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BBB Tip of the Week: Dangers in MMOs

Sun., March 23, 2014

Millions of people play massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) every year. So it is no surprise that scammers look for targets to exploit. They attempt to gain access to player accounts to steal virtual items and real money.

Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or new to online games, the Better Business Bureau warns of the following dangers:

Malware: For many MMO games, players can download add-on applications that can enhance game play. However, some add-ons are malicious and may be keyloggers, software that records your keystrokes — capturing logins, passwords and potentially other personal information.

Phishing: When MMOs announce upcoming changes, scammers often setup phishing websites, offering free in-game items by requiring account information but delivering nothing in return. Phishing emails pretending to be from game companies often threaten game suspension unless the player logs into a bogus website to clear it up. Within the online games, customer service representatives, called game masters, handle complaints and issues. Scammers pretending to be GMs will attempt to extract account information from players.

Scams involving virtual items: Both in and out of game, scammers will attempt to sell virtual items, sometimes of little or no value, for in-game currency or real money. Gold farmers are those who gather up as much virtual currency, usually gold coins, to sell for real dollars.

Romance scams: Scammers will use virtual friendships and even cultivate in-game romance to extract real money from their targets, similar to scammers on online dating services. Never wire money or give bank account information to virtual friends in MMOs.

Scammers approach MMOs in order to exploit players when they are relaxed and not thinking about real world problems.

If you or someone you know has been scammed while playing an MMO, contact the game’s customer service department for possible remedies. If you’ve been defrauded of real money, contact your credit card or bank, and file a complaint with the BBB at and the Internet Crime Complaint Center at

By Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor


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