What Is Online Gaming Fraud?
Online gaming fraud refers to a series of scams affecting the gaming community to extort and exploit personal information for monetary gain. When a person’s identity or personal information, such as credit card or social security numbers, is compromised, scammers could profit from this data reveal and cause damage to the scamming victim.
Scammers have always been targeting the gaming community, but a significant increase in online gaming fraud occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of gamers spiked due to isolation and lockdowns. The substantial increase in gamers during this period has drawn more scammers to the community, causing gaming scams to proliferate and affect a larger group of people.
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Online gamers are a common scamming target because many games involve in-app purchases, requiring players to provide financial information, such as their credit card numbers. In addition to that, some scammers use social-engineering techniques to extort personal data from the victims or trick them into falling victim to other cyber attacks.
What Types of Online Gaming Fraud Are the Most Prevalent?
We can separate online gaming fraud into multiple categories. Still, it’s safe to say that most scams targeting the gaming community are simply reused and recycled versions of social engineering and phishing attacks. That said, here are the most common online gaming scams to beware of the next time you or your child log into a game.
Gamers’ account information has considerable market value, which is the primary reason this cyber account occurs. Those who fall victim to an online gaming phishing scam usually get an email telling them they need to confirm login credentials. The email also contains a link taking them to a fake sign-in page which requires a username and password confirmation. If the victim follows through with the scammer’s plan, the fake web page will log their login credentials, making them visible to scammers, who will then sell this information or use it in any other way for their gain.
Fake mobile games
The mobile gaming industry is expanding rapidly, and scammers are sure to follow. However, these scams work differently compared to previously mentioned phishing attacks. To prepare for an attack, cyber criminals would build a fake mobile game, usually a replica of a popular online game. Then when a cyber victim downloads it, this software installs malware on their device. This could be a mobile phone, tablet, or, on rare occasions, a desktop computer. The malware in question targets details of gamers’ online accounts, which usually include personal user information.
Unfortunately, this type of online gaming fraud could lead to devastating consequences for the victims. Once installed, malware can log credit card information, phone numbers, or even addresses, which could be exploited in numerous ways.
Grooming of children
The gaming community could pose a great threat to children, especially if they love to hang out in chatrooms. Chatrooms are often a nest for predators and scammers targeting children for several reasons. Still, this online gaming fraud refers to cyber criminals grooming children and persuading them to share their parents’ credit card details or make in-game purchases for them.
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Additionally, scammers may spam children with links, and all it takes is a little convincing to obtain information from a clueless youngster. And if the child falling victim to this attack has an online wallet for gaming purposes set up by their parents, scammers could empty it in the blink of an eye. But sometimes, this effort isn’t always necessary. Scammers may try to befriend children and ask them to share their account details in the chat. Being oftentimes clueless or naive, it’s easy to see why children are a common target.
Scamming attacks targeting IP addresses
IP addresses are essential for online communication, as they allow us to send and receive information. So, if a fraudster gets hold of a victim’s IP address, they could compromise their security and seize valuable information, usually related to a person’s identity, location, or finances. With these details, hackers could carry out a range of attacks, depending on what data they’ve collected, by targeting your IP address. But, as a rule of thumb, they’re almost always going after financial information.
Another online gaming fraud type to beware of is scammers trying to redirect gamers to third-party web pages that appear credible and trustworthy. These websites work perfectly- gamers can access them to buy in-game weapons, add-ons, outfits, or exchange money for currency used in that specific game. However, these websites are far from trustworthy. The websites are fake, and they exist to trick users into initiating transactions for counterfeit in-game items they’d never really get.
How To Mitigate the Risk of Online Gaming Fraud?
Many gamers play against each other on the internet, and since most of them use an assumed identity, you don’t know who the person behind a specific username most of the time is. That said, playing games and hanging out in chatrooms is in itself dangerous, as you don’t know who you’re bonding with. And while most of the gaming community members are not scammers or predators, it’s challenging to filter out bad seeds.
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Phishing and social engineering techniques are the backbone of online gaming fraud, which is why it’s essential to take precautions and learn how to avoid falling victim to cyber crime when playing with other gamers online. Luckily, you can prevent online gaming fraud by introducing new cyber hygiene habits into your life and learning about the most popular methods used to target victims, including:
- Interacting with credible sources only: Downloading apps, purchasing game add-ons, and sharing your information should only be done on trustworthy websites that won’t try to log or extort your personal information. If you aren’t sure how to recognize fake websites, you can always check the domain name, as it will differ from the original one.
- Considering VPN: VPNs can ensure extra safety, especially if cyber attackers try to carry out an attack against you hoping to reveal your IP address. Not only that, but VPN makes it impossible to track you, meaning it shields you from a variety of cyber dangers that lurk around the internet.
- Installing reputable antivirus software: Using good antivirus software and initiating updates and system scans regularly would improve the chances of blocking infected files or detecting malware on an already infected computer. And similarly to VPNs, antivirus software can protect you from a range of attacks, so it’s good to have it on your side when browsing the internet and playing games.
- Don’t share your personal information with strangers: People you game with don’t have to know anything about you and your life to be your online friends. Try to avoid sharing personal information, such as your full name, address, or information about other people in your household.
- Avoid clicking on suspicious links: If someone sends you a link in a private message, ignore it, and report it to chat moderators if possible. Clinking on these links will bring you nothing but trouble, even if the sender promises a good deal or reward for your compliance. Similarly, if you see an ad or a pop-up window with a call-to-action message or an alluring promise, remember that it’s likely phishing, hiding behind attractive clickbait.
How to Protect Children from Online Gaming Fraud?
Children are the most susceptible to online gaming fraud for several reasons. They’re either too young to understand the dangers of the internet or too gullible to recognize manipulation and social engineering techniques. With that in mind, VPN and up-to-date antivirus software aren’t enough. Instead, parents should monitor their children’s online interactions and behavior and actively teach them how to ward off unwanted people from their online environment.
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Teaching your children how to practice cyber hygiene will help them avoid all sorts of scams and attacks, so begin by teaching them the importance of using strong passwords and keeping login credentials to yourself. Of course, if they’re young, you should still be able to log into your child’s account and check what’s going on when they join the game.