American government agency the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released a new PSA warning consumers of a new scam, where fake “play-to-earn” mobile and online games are being used to steal cryptocurrency, reports Techcrunch.
The scam sees criminals contact victims and introduce them to a new game, which requires them to set up a cryptocurrency wallet, purchase cryptocurrency, and join a specific game app. Players will see fake rewards accumulate in the app based on the money stored in their wallet. However, when players stop depositing money into their wallets, criminals use a malicious program unknowingly installed with the game to drain the accumulated currency.
In some cases, the perpetrators then contact victims, instructing them to make additional payments in the form of taxes or fees to reclaim their funds in an attempt to extort further funds.
Staying safe online
While play-to-earn is a valid business model, with any number of legitimate titles allowing players to earn cryptocurrency through play, it appears that the relative inaccessibility of blockchain technology compared to other forms of gaming makes it a prime candidate for abuse by criminals.
Although the PSA doesn’t name any specific games being used as part of the scam, it does offer some tips for consumers to protect themselves from this scam.
The FBI advises that players participating in cryptocurrency-based gaming create a unique wallet, isolating their primary cryptocurrency holdings in the event that they’re targeted by the scam. Players can also use a third-party blockchain explorer to check the balances of the addresses in their gaming wallets, and are advised to use a third party token allowance checker to see whether any sites or apps have been inadvertently given permission to access their funds.
We maintain a list of blockchain games available on mobile devices here. Earlier this month, Social First CEO Kim Soares wrote a guest article discussing the potential of player-driven economies.