The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning over a new gaming email phishing scam that targets video game players and takes advantage of their love of the games to get them to divulge their account information.

Gamers invest considerable time and money into buying add-ons and developing gaming characters; however, the fear of loss of their gaming account is seeing many fall for the latest scam.

Cyber Criminals Opt for Gaming Phishing Email Scam

Hardcore gamers are not difficult to find, having registered on forums and gaming websites, providing their email addresses and other information about their gaming habits. Once criminals obtain email addresses of gamers, they are sent fake emails from gaming companies suggesting they have been discovered to have sold gaming items or characters for real money, and by doing so have violated the rules of the game.

Consequently, the users are threatened with account suspensions, or in some cases, legal action. A number of emails have been received by gamers with threats that they will be sued for amounts up to $2,700 for repeated violations of gaming rules and regulations. The intention is not to get the users to part with that money, but to get them to reveal details of their bank accounts or credit cards used to make purchases.

Users are often fooled into responding out of fear of losing their accounts or being suspended or banned from their favorite games. The email campaigns can also be highly convincing, using templates that appear legitimate, often including company logos and names the users may be familiar with.

The scammers have been targeting users of some of the most popular online games, such as World of Warcraft and Diablo III, both produced by Blizzard Entertainment, although the scam is not restricted to players of these games. The volume of emails sent to gamers, and complaints received, has resulted in Blizzard emailing users to tip them off to what it called “rampant scams.”

The FTC has also got involved, issuing a warning of its own. According to the FTC warning, targets are advised that they should check the status of their accounts and challenge the suspension if they have done no wrong. They are supplied a link for this purpose and are required to fill in a ‘verification’ form.

They are then asked to enter information in order to confirm their accounts and identities, and must reveal account and financial information. The perpetrators of the scam then empty their accounts.

This is not the only technique used by online fraudsters to get users to reveal their credentials. Gamers are being sent spam emails asking them to login in order to receive free gifts and exclusive game add-ons, with users requested to click a link in the email to login in order to claim their prize.

It is not always essential that account details are entered in the online forms to which the users are directed to. The links contained in the emails can direct the users to malware-infected websites. Malicious software is automatically downloaded to the users’ computers, allowing the perpetrators to gain access to the device and trawl files looking for personal information such as bank account details, login names and passwords.

Gamers have been warned to always try to verify any such emails, and not to click on links, open attachments or use the contact details provided. All requests that are out of the ordinary should be independently verified with the company concerned, using the gaming website’s contact information.