Unauthorized in-app purchases and shady games are always hazards to be wary of when exploring the App Store or Google Play Store. The FBI just released a warning to anybody trying play-to-earn games. The publishers may use nefarious tactics to steal tons of cash from you.
These games should be avoided at all costs. Read on to see if you risk being duped by one of your favorite ways to pass the time.
FBI: never play these mobile play-to-earn games
The FBI warns of criminals creating fake gaming apps to steal millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. Criminals advertise the apps as play-to-earn games offering financial incentives to players.
Here’s how the scam works. Criminals contact victims online and build a relationship over time. The crooks then introduce victims to an online or mobile game, in which you supposedly can earn cryptocurrency rewards in exchange for some activity, such as growing “crops” on an animated farm.
To participate in the game, criminals tell you to create a cryptocurrency wallet, purchase cryptocurrency, and join a specific game app. The more money victims store in their wallets, the more rewards they can earn in the game.
But here’s the rub. You play the game and see fake rewards accumulating in the app. When you stop depositing funds into the crypto wallet, criminals drain your wallet using a malicious program you unknowingly activated upon joining the game.
The thieves say you may reclaim funds by paying additional taxes or fees, but you cannot get your money back even if you pay them.
How to stay protected from fake game apps
Around 2.7 billion people worldwide play mobile games. If you count yourself among them, this is a lesson to remember.
Here are some suggestions from the FBI to stay protected:
- If you wish to participate in cryptocurrency-based gaming, create a unique wallet. This isolates your primary cryptocurrency holdings should you unknowingly grant thieves access to your gaming wallet.
- Use a third-party blockchain explorer to independently check the balances of the addresses in your gaming wallet.
- Periodically use a third-party token allowance checker to help you see which sites or apps you have inadvertently permitted to access funds in your wallet and revoke those permissions.
The FBI requests victims report these fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.
PSA: If you win ‘free’ electronics online, watch for this sign it’s a scam
Before you panic, it might be an AI voice on the phone and not a relative in danger