The free V-Bucks hoax: Fortnite scammers are using YouTube and phishing tricks to steal logins and private data
It was only a matter of time before internet criminals and chancers took advantage of the hugely popular Fortnite game, targeting its largely youthful audience and exploiting their desire for free V-Bucks.
In recent weeks, YouTube has become littered with videos aimed at tricking players into handing over their personal details in return for free V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency. Some videos direct players to phishing sites, demanding usernames and passwords, while others promise free V-Bucks in return for filling out surveys.
The former has the potential to give hackers your Xbox or PS4 login details, and, if you have a credit card or similar attached to your account, puts you at risk of fraud. The latter won’t, necessarily, expose your login details or private information but it could see you sharing data unwittingly, generating ad revenue for the hackers, or simply be a waste of your time.
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“There’s no such thing as a free V-Buck,” Epic wrote. “We’ve seen the sites online, just like you. Click here, put in your username, maybe answer a survey question or two, and you’ll get as many free V-Bucks as you’d like. Those sites aren’t real.
“They want you to enter your account credentials into their page (enabling them to log in as you and create fraudulent charges) or else encourage you to click down a chain of advertising referrals, getting click-through advertising money for the person running the site. Under no circumstances are those sites able to actually grant V-Bucks.” Epic added that it’s now in the process of shutting down the sites in question.
It’s been a difficult week for Fortnite after rival title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) accused Epic of copying its format. The studio behind PUBG has instructed a court in South Korea to determine whether Epic Games breached intellectual copyright.
PUBG launched in March 2017 and its format is based on Japanese film Battle Royale, in which a group of students fights to the death. Up to 100 players parachute onto an island, hunt for weapons and kill each other until only one player remains, earning them a “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” reward. The game’s format is also reminiscent of Hunger Games. Fortnite was released in July 2017 and, despite being initially designed as a zombie-hunting title, Epic Games added a Battle Royale mode in September.
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This also isn’t the first time cybercriminals have used a popular game to spread malware. In April, a piece of malware called “PUBG ransomware” was found to be locking the files of infected computers until its victims played a round of PUBG.
The malware was discovered by MalwareHunterTeam and reported by Bleeping Computer. Like other types of ransomware, it works by encrypting a user’s files to make them inaccessible until the user does something that will decrypt them. Unlike other types of ransomware, though, this doesn’t involve the exchange of money or sexual imagery, just some time with a video game.
“Your files is encrypted [sic] by PUBG Ransomware!” the ransom note reads. “But don’t worry! It is not hard to unlock it. I don’t want money! Just play PUBG 1Hours [sic]!”