With thousands of World of Warcraft fans gearing up for BlizzCon in Anaheim this weekend, scammers have been licking their chops at the prospect of a surge in Warcraft mania to feed their online traps.
SiteJabber, a consumer-protection site funded by the National Science Foundation, on Monday posted an infographic capturing the scope of questionable activity involving the popular online game, which is played by about 11.5 million people worldwide.
Though Blizzard Entertainment, the Irvine company that develops World of Warcraft, bans the sale of virtual items for its games through third parties, players desperate to advance in the game pay hundreds of millions of dollars for such goods, according to SiteJabber. Among the virtual items that have been listed for sale on various online auction sites: “leggings of dubious charms” for $69.99. Check out an excerpt from SiteJabber’s chart to the right for a list of other items.
Many receive the items they paid for, but some don’t. Worse, their accounts can get hijacked and sold to another unsuspecting buyer.
The graphic lists some common scams. Our favorite: The fake beta invite. Warcraft players are fanatic about the game, and nothing gets them more revved up than being able to lay their hands on new content.
The crooks know this. They send out fake invitations for players to “test” a beta version of an upcoming game that hasn’t yet been released to the public, a so-called beta invite. Once players give up their account name and password, it’s game over. The account is immediately hijacked and drained of valuables or sold off wholesale.
Another scam involves selling software programs that purport to help players “level up” their game characters faster, making them more powerful, without having to play hundreds of hours to get there. The victim buys the program, for $30 or so, and installs it, and then the program starts to relay account and password information, not just for the game but for just about everything the user accesses on the infected computer.
– Alex Pham
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Chart credit: SiteJabber