Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Scams and Social Gaming

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the sign-up-now-for-fifteen-free-slashbucks dept.

Social Networks 95

TechCrunch is running a story about the prevalence of scams and shady monetization techniques in popular social games on Facebook and MySpace. As an alternative to buying in-game currency with real money, many games make use of lead-generation offers — letting players sign up for a trial service or take a survey in exchange for the currency. The system is rife with scams, and many game developers turn a blind eye to them, much to the detriment of the players and the legitimate advertisers — not to mention the games that rightly disallow these offers and fall behind in profits. The article asserts that Facebook and MySpace themselves are complicit in this, failing to crack down on the abuses they see because they make so much money from advertising for the most popular games.

cancel ×

95 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Rightfully disallowed? (3, Insightful)

introspekt.i (1233118) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942099)

Rightfully disallow? Surely you mean the scam offers. There's nothing inherently wrong with monetizing lead generation, as long as you do it in a legitimate and safe ways. As a matter of fact, it's probably best to keep 3rd parties out of the process, but that's just MHO.

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (1, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942658)

In the context of game mechanics I can't think of very many ways in which lead-generation is not trying to scam people.

The most scammy of course is the one here, where people end up getting signed up for some crappy $10/mo service with little/no warning of it. But even if it's a legitimately free one-month trial, which they then have to cancel, it still seems shady with most of the services: they're generally products nobody sane would actually pay for, so it's very transparent that the entire point is hoping that some people will forget to cancel, i.e. trick people into accidentally paying for something that they wouldn't have actually bought.

Maybe free trials for products that someone might plausibly actually buy of their own free will would be acceptable, but I rarely see that in these flash-game types of things. It also still seems out of place as part of game mechanics: just asking people outright to buy your virtual gold is more honest than these roundabout ways of tricking them into paying for your virtual gold.

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942736)

But even if it's a legitimately free one-month trial, which they then have to cancel, it still seems shady with most of the services: they're generally products nobody sane would actually pay for, so it's very transparent that the entire point is hoping that some people will forget to cancel, i.e. trick people into accidentally paying for something that they wouldn't have actually bought.

Lots of mobile phone operators have those subscription-based ringtone etc services which you pay $19+ a month and they start occasionally sending you random chiptunes. I have no idea why any sane person would like to subscribe for that, but since people know the terms, price and subscribe to it themself it's obviously legal. Providing stupid sounding service isn't illegal, it's just stupidness and ignorance from the people who sign up for it.

Old saying goes "He who asks is not a fool, he who pays is"

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942746)

I think a lot of those are scams too. I've twice been subscribed, without my consent, to junk like that, one a cell-phone dating thing (these doods [fonmatch.com] ), and one some ring-tones. I finally got Sprint to lock my account so no subscriptions can be added without me explicitly calling up Sprint to request they authorize it---which should be the default.

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (1)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950288)

I finally got Sprint to lock my account so no subscriptions can be added without me explicitly calling up Sprint to request they authorize it---which should be the default.

I agree 100%. It kills me to see how many scam "services" are predicated on automatically-billed monthly charges to your cell phone. Especially if you have kids, e.g. "cool! I get a free* ringtone just for sending a text to 55555?"

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942796)

A few of them (at least, ones that I've heard of in the UK) are scams. The SMS premium rate system is set up so that, once you've sent a message to a premium rate service it can send you messages that you are charged for. People send a message to get the crazy frog ringtone, thinking it's a one-off, and then it periodically sends them new ones. They don't notice that they've been charged £3 each unless they carefully check their bills, by which time the company has vanished.

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942962)

It's the same way in Finland too, but they have to write in tv/magazine ads that users are signing up for a subscription service, how much it will cost and how to unsubscribe. However they're run by the large operators have been for years, and I dont have a such a problem with them since users are still clearly told what they're subscribing for. Never the less its still a pretty stupid service.

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951742)

In the US, you can register other people for SMS premium service without their consent, and you can do it remotely.

http://privacylog.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29943474)

I'd rather see Flash games done by the tried and true way where ID software ascended:

Have a free game that people can play to their heart's content which does one level. Then, with a $5 to $10 fee, offer the full flash game.

Everyone wins here. The player knows exactly what he or she is buying. The game publisher is honest about what is being sold, and there can be no cries of "foul" on either side, unless the registered version doesn't live up to expectations.

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (0, Flamebait)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942694)

This just seems like crying from those who don't have other options in their games than to directly pay with money. It's good to offer another options for people.

And so what if they get more back and have more to spend on advertising in turn? It just means their game is more successful (in terms of monetization) than the alternatives.

This has nothing to do with Facebook. There are laws that the lead-generation offers have to follow like showing the terms and price of the offer. If they aren't following them, you report them to police or FCC.

(btw, Facebook does allow lead-generation offers [facebook.com] and also has pretty strict rules about advertisement [facebook.com] )

Re:Rightfully disallowed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29945064)

Rightfully disallow? Surely you mean the scam offers. There's nothing inherently wrong with monetizing lead generation, as long as you do it in a legitimate and safe ways. As a matter of fact, it's probably best to keep 3rd parties out of the process, but that's just MHO.

The problem seems to be that companies interested in advertising themselves are idiots, and they give out free stuff which players abuse by registering and canceling back and forth. Then when the companies notice that their quality is lowering they also lower advertisement prices for everyone, and now the "legit game publishers" are bitching and moaning.
 
So here's my thought. If you have a product to offer which is a "scam", this is very gray zone so let's not get ahead of ourselves, and you manage to sell this so well to companies such as Netflix with no data other than your word, then fucking cudos because B2B deals are scams and unless there's some legal issue (which should have been reviewed by legal departments) in that contract you both signed then welcome to reality. Check-fucking-mate. If you are a "legit game publisher" and instead of bitching and moaning use that argument and show some results, give some statistics to your newcoming clients of how much your previous clients could benefit on your product (the ad spot), then you'll end up drawing the longer straw. Business is quite easy -- really, always look for maximum profit and always get everything on the contract. Honest to "god" it's not more difficult than that.

More Accurate Title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942115)

Scams and the Imbeciles Who Fall for Them, Making Everyone Else Have to Put Up with Spam

Ok... so I'm too old to understand (2, Interesting)

faffod (905810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942137)

I just don't get facebook apps. They all need to be given access to my personal data. Why does a survey need to access my personal data? Why do people allow this? Given the cavalier attitude towards protecting privacy and personal data, I'm not surprised to hear that scammers are finding fertile grounds. I wouldn't be surprised to find out (eventually) that some apps are deep data mining for phishers to profile targets better.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (4, Insightful)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942310)

A survey doesn't need to access your personal data, but the developers/publishers of those surveys may want to access your personal data (for whatever reason, nefarious or mundane). I suspect that it's just much more convenient and less labour-intensive for Facebook to have the same policies for personal data disclosure for all apps than to have different types of disclosure for different apps. Even if we assume the technical/programming aspect of it is easy enough, there would need to be a screening process for each individual app to ensure that it actually needs the data it's requesting, or complies with certain conditions, etc. A lot of policing would have to be done, and I'm not sure it's entirely fair to ask Facebook to hire more people to essentially protect its ignorant users from themselves.

As to why people allow this, they just don't see the harm in it. Whether they should see the harm in it or not is a different question altogether, but the fact is that they're just ignorant to the risks. And we're so conditioned with "OK click-throughs" that most people probably click the allow button without even realizing that they're giving permission for the app to access their data.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

faffod (905810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942754)

I'm not asking facebook to individually vet each app/survey. We've seen what the Apple App store is like... However, it wouldn't take faceboook that much effort to publish two APIs and let all the dumb surveys only have the ability to post on your wall once. Apps that wanted to be more sophisticated and do clever things with your personal data are few and far between, why are they the default access model?

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942858)

It's difficult to design a system like that well. If you do it badly, then malicious apps will just request the maximum privilege level and users will have been conditioned to granting it so you've gained nothing. If you just make two APIs, then you'll end up with most apps being able to do 99% of what they want with the simpler API, but still need just one extra feature beyond that (a different feature, of course, for each app) and so they'll request the higher privilege.

Take a look at the Java sandbox, for example. A Java applet is not allowed to store things locally, which dramatically reduced their usefulness (and is one of the reasons, I suspect, why Flash became more popular for client-side things). You can request this privilege, but few applets do that and so users just say 'no' because it's unusual. In contrast, every ActiveX widget needed full access to your system and so users just clicked 'yes'. Two very different approaches to security, and neither makes it easy for an applet to get just the privileges that it needs. On OS X, the sandbox API comes with a few default profiles, but isn't exposed in the GUI. It's a nice idea though, and giving users a choice of a few default sandboxing profiles for any downloaded apps (e.g. game, online game, document editor, network client) would be a nice model, if the sandbox profiles are designed well enough that developers can actually write code that works within them.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

faffod (905810) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943514)

I disagree, we're not talking about the complexities of a language. We're talking about specifying a small subset of the facebook API that would be deemed "safe" and allow apps to run against that with low trust levels. And the full set of facebook APIs that would require an app to get users permission. They already have the API. They only need to segregate them into two piles. As for checking for exploits, they need to be doing that any way.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

scot4875 (542869) | more than 4 years ago | (#30076330)

Even if two APIs are offered, the stupid surveys will *still* use the privileged one with access to your personal information.

Why? Those surveys only exist so that the company that writes them can data-mine your profile. Personally, I don't see a lot of value in knowing what my network of friends is and my relationship status, but apparently there's enough monetary demand for that information that they can stay in business.

Nothing comes for free, ever, in a commercialized environment. There are no home modder enthusiasts who take great personal satisfaction in writing up a 10-question 80s movie quiz or a viral vampire vs. werewolf game. (If I'm wrong, I my heart goes out to the sad people who enjoy building those inane apps.) It's all just data mining and ad revenue generating BS.

--Jeremy

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

mrshermanoaks (921067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942380)

Problem is that you don't need to give them your info. All your "friends" who take dumb-ass surveys like "Which Star Wars character are you?" are giving away your info for you. http://apps.facebook.com/aclunc_privacy_quiz/ [facebook.com]

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942714)

Problem is that you don't need to give them your info. All your "friends" who take dumb-ass surveys like "Which Star Wars character are you?" are giving away your info for you.

Which is why I never let any app/quiz/anything have that access.

I know that all my contacts allow the access wily-nilly so their info is already pretty much "out there", and I know that there is nothing on there (including no links to people I don't want to be publicly linked to) I care about being made completely public (so I don't mind my contacts taking part). But I'm old fashioned enough to think that I have no right to give someone access to someone else's information despite the above.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

mrshermanoaks (921067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942808)

You can deny access from your account all you want, but when your friends click that "grant access" it's almost the same as if you've done it. Try that ACLU quiz and they will show you what kind of information they can gather about your friends without their permission.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942940)

Oh, I know that. But even if they give out that access to their information I still don't feel I have the right to grant that access. Maybe one of these days some fool will put something sensitive there - f they do it won't be me that give access to the world at large.

And for my part, I'm paranoid enough not to have anything at all sensitive there. The only thing I have reservations about is the word "friend" linking me and one or two of my acquaintances (friends of friends and wayward family members) that I'm linked to on there!

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

mrshermanoaks (921067) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943186)

And for my part, I'm paranoid enough not to have anything at all sensitive there.

The best strategy of all - Never post anything in a massively public system that you don't want to be public. :-)

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943284)

And for my part, I'm paranoid enough not to have anything at all sensitive there.

The best strategy of all - Never post anything in a massively public system that you don't want to be public. :-)

"Not at all sensitive" == "I'm happy for it to be publicly known"

I actually have virtually nothing on there - I use it mainly for IM (as there are more people I know on there than any other system) and small offline messages (as I find email to be less reliable in some cases), and even then I'm careful what I send.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943926)

I started using FB the same reason I created accounts on MySpace and Twitter. Prospective employers want that info, and think that you are behind the times or a Luddite if you don't have it. This was told to my face in a couple interviews I've had.

So, I created a dummy MySpace account that has nothing on it, and only bother logging on to check out bands. My Twitter account has no tweets from me, and it follows a lot of major brands in the industry (IBM, EMC, Microsoft, SOE, Cisco, etc.) FB, I actually use and have some friends there and use it as a messaging source, as well as a way to keep up on a couple events going on.

Maybe this is a pipe dream, but I'd like to see a social networking website where every object (post, movie, file) was considered an object, and each object had security ACLs, similar to how every filesystem object. So, if I want to allow everyone to view something, I'd add the everyone ACL which adds their public key to the object. I'd also have ACLs that are for denying access, so I can explicitly prevent people (or groups) from seeing an entry regardless if they are a friend or not.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944016)

Maybe this is a pipe dream, but I'd like to see a social networking website where every object (post, movie, file) was considered an object, and each object had security ACLs, similar to how every filesystem object.

That would never get implemented as it would confuse the hell out of the common denominator. And you can't just ask the common denominator to not mess with it because if it is there they'll click around even if they don't know what it is, and then file an angry support mail asking why the system won't let Aunt Mable see their latest bady pictures.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29943748)

I really wish FB had a better app architecture based on the model of least privileges. Why do require access to everything a FB user has including access to friends data? Maybe an app needs some details on what it splats onto status updates, but that is something handled by FB itself.

OS designers have a responsibility for security and a workable privilege model. Why shouldn't Web framework companies have a similar onus put upon them? People think that having all their FB details be read by one bad app doesn't mean much, but that information can be chucked in a database to build a nice profile on that user and their friends. Does someone really want a potential employer to be able to be able to have all that stuff without authorization? What about someone looking to sue for some money like an ex? How about if someone has some skeletons in their closet that would get them arrested? What about an insurance company looking to not cover something?

If the designers of FB were smart, they would make a FB framework that didn't just have "well, we think this app might be trusted", but an actual priv model. If an app could run just knowing that it ran under Joe Sixpack, that is all the info it should get.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

harl (84412) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950724)

They want your friend list. With that they can target advertise them using your info and pictures.

Re:Ok... so I'm too old to understand (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#29953852)

I just don't get facebook apps. They all need to be given access to my personal data.

Facebook PROTIP:

Just make shit up.

been happening forever in other forms (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942189)

When I was a youth in the 1960's the same kinds of scams were around, just not involving online computer games. Then, they were about subscriptions to get "10 records for $1" or similar. In all cases, they just take advantage of (not to put too fine a point on it) dumb people who don't bother to look into what they're really subscribing to.

If you give your CC or bank numbers to _anyone_ without understanding the transaction, well, a fool and his money are soon parted.

From TFA:

A typical scam: users are offered in game currency in exchange for filling out an IQ survey. Four simple questions are asked. The answers are irrelevant. When the user gets to the last question they are told their results will be text messaged to them. They are asked to enter in their mobile phone number, and are texted a pin code to enter on the quiz. Once they've done that, they've just subscribed to a $9.99/month subscription.

I've always maintained that being careless with one's information online (personal details, phone numbers, CC numbers, addresses) means it's only a matter of time until you get ripped off. Scams have been around forever, probably since humanity invented money. How long does it take for people to wise up? We've had thousands of years now. At some point, I think we have to acknowledge that people do have some responsibility to act in responsible ways, yes, even on Da Interwebs. The way to eliminate this problem is for people to act in their own self interest. If they refuse to do that, maybe we need to say, "hey, we're sorry you got scammed, but YOU chose to give them your CC number / sign up for a $10/month subscription / give away all your personal details. Now you get to experience the consequences of your actions."

Re:been happening forever in other forms (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942242)

(Replying to my own post here) - also, why on earth would anyone let arbitrary scripts run when they don't have any idea what those scripts are doing? Maybe it's different for me; I grew up in the mainframe era, but my philosophy is, "I'll whitelist what *I* say is acceptable to run on my system. Nothing else gets to run."

Websites with 20 different cross site scripts? Sorry, but no thanks - my computer is my computer, not your computer, and unless there's a reason *I* agree with, you don't get to run *your* software on it. It boggles my mind that today's youth operate under the principle of, "Hey, sure! I'll run anything from anywhere without having the foggiest idea what it actually does, and I'll put all my personal details online for scripts to harvest". Maybe it's just a generational culture clash, I'm not sure, but I honestly don't understand the mentality behind their approach, and I suspect they also don't understand the mentality behind mine either.

On the other hand, I'm not the one with my computer in a botnet and having college kegstand photos turn up during job searches.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942878)

"Hey, sure! I'll run anything from anywhere without having the foggiest idea what it actually does, and I'll put all my personal details online for scripts to harvest"

It's the second one of these that is the real problem. Client-side vulnerabilities aside, there isn't much danger in running arbitrary JavaScript because it's sandboxed and your browser doesn't give it access to anything that didn't come from the server (or, with HTML 5, wasn't previously stored locally by scripts from that site). Running untrusted code is fine as long as it's isolated. Giving untrusted code arbitrary access to your data and network connection is a terrible idea.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943952)

Running isolated untrusted code is problematic, because there are always new undiscovered ways for it to become unisolated.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944366)

"Running isolated untrusted code is problematic, because there are always new undiscovered ways for it to become unisolated."

Which in itself should give us pause.

Programming is applied logic. Logic is a rigorously provable formal system. A rigorously provable formal system DOES NOT lose its properties merely through some vague process of exposure to an environment. It can't.

Why the heck do we allow languages to be released which don't have any kind of formal proof of their properties? Isn't that a bit like building with sand? 'Shove this iron bar here... well I think it's iron, it might be plastic... or corn syrup... heck, I dunno, it's a new formula, not been tested, but it looks pretty. Hey it's only structural, it'll get replaced with something in three years anyway. Don't you know all buildings fall down eventually? For goodness sakes don't lean on it!!!'

Programming: wer doin it rong.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29945126)

The language is irrelevant. Isolating programs from each other and resources is the job of the operating system. You can argue that operating systems should be formally verified, but if an operating system is dependent on properties of the source language for protection then it is fundamentally flawed, because attackers will just use a different language. If you add a VM, like Java does, then you're just adding another layer of complexity which can contain exploits and you need to formally verify the VM as well as the OS...

you are the same, in different fields (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949108)

Everyone is the same, in a different field.
You know about PCs, so you are very careful what code you run.
How careful are you about what you eat?
Do you check t see what additives and colorants have been added to every ingredient? Do you check that the food meets the guideline daily amounts of salt, sugar, fat?
Do you check the calories?

Or do you just go "hey that looks nice" and eat it?

Poor choice of code might get your machine slowed or even added to a bot net. A poor diet can kill you.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950528)

It boggles my mind that today's youth operate under the principle of, "Hey, sure! I'll run anything from anywhere without having the foggiest idea what it actually does, and I'll put all my personal details online for scripts to harvest".

I think you just about summed it up right there. Not just "youth", but consider the total number of people who own computers, then consider the proportion of these people who really know *anything about computers.

Let me demonstrate for you the average person on Facebook:
User: "A survey that will tell me which Muppet Baby I would be if I was a Muppet Baby? Yes, please."
Facebook: "Do you want to allow this application access to your personal information?"
User: "Yes, I do want to find out which Muppet Baby I would be if I was a Muppet Baby. Allow."
Survey says: You are Fozzie Bear: you display a clear disregard for the security of your personal data with an untrusted third-party. Wocka wocka!"

Re:been happening forever in other forms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942460)

This is a complex world, and for one I didn't know before reading this that receiving a pin in a text message and typing it on a website could start a $10/month subscription (through my phone provider?) If there was just one way to pay for something (cc number) it would be easy to avoid scams, but when large companies you give your cc number to create payment systems with other rules, how do you keep track?

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

baKanale (830108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942684)

Yeah, that doesn't make sense. Since when does giving your phone number to someone constitute agreement to a financial transaction? Be careful, gents! Don't give your digits to that hot girl at the bar. The fine print on her shirt commits you to a 2 year Playboy subscription for $19.97 plus $7.92 delivery!

Re:been happening forever in other forms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942800)

other way around: they ask for your phone number to, they say, send your test results, then they send you a text message to that number asking to reply to the text with the pin number given in the web part.
and this texted reply is your consent to receive the tests results....with 10$/month subscription.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942898)

I suspect it's the other way around. For most premium rate services you need to send an SMS to a special number. You are then opted in, and it's very difficult to opt back out. Once you've sent a message to one of these numbers, that number is allowed to send premium SMS messages to you that cost a certain amount to receive. This was put in place for things like buying ringtones over the network. It's a terrible idea, but it makes money for the network providers so it was implemented.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 4 years ago | (#29946688)

There are a number of services that are or can be activated by being texted a pin and entering it in to a website. Yes, most of the opt-ins are a result of sending an SMS to another number, but that is not the only way for it to happen.

Re:10 for $1 (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942934)

I signed up for one of these.

I am fairly clever, so I knew the terms. 10 for ($1+S&H) contracted to buy 4 more at regular+S&H.

No big deal.

The truly scary thing is a slew of the Dotters really are doing okay, we're not deciding whether to eat half or a quarter of the Ramen Noodles for that morning. We make a lot of fuss over principles of $5.

So ... I never bothered to cancel the subscription. I actually got more amusement seeing one random CD a month (per the terms) wander into my mailbox. It took the very edge of the grind out of life. I overpaid some $6 per month... but ... who... cares? I treated it as $6 of entertainment surprise.

Finally they closed the program division itself so it went away.

Re:10 for $1 (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943012)

Exactly so. And then the persons who make a fuss over $5 happily spend $50+ for one night out at bars, which always isn't really even that nice night out.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943036)

Except you are ignoring the fact that in many of those cases, the users are getting hit with charges that were either obfuscated or not even mentioned. The 'hidden charges' might just qualify as fraud (ianal), but the unstated charges most certainly are fraud.

Additionally, in this day and age, all kinds of information that in the past would never have been divulged or even asked for are now a requirement for almost everything, especially on the internet. How often do businesses 'require' you social security number? How about your job interview where they run a credit check?

In short, it is a scam that normal people fall for, and not because they are stupid or careless. (Though that happens as well.) And as long as we're on the subject, thank you for agreeing to join our rant/anti-rant discussion system, you will be automatically billed one hundred and forty nine dollars annually, if you wish to dispute these charges please call 785-786-2968.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943174)

A typical scam: users are offered in game currency in exchange for filling out an IQ survey. Four simple questions are asked. The answers are irrelevant. When the user gets to the last question they are told their results will be text messaged to them. They are asked to enter in their mobile phone number, and are texted a pin code to enter on the quiz. Once they've done that, they've just subscribed to a $9.99/month subscription.

- isn't this the best IQ test ever? If you get fooled and start paying the fee, you lose the test.

Re:been happening forever in other forms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29945056)

What? My actions have consequences! What an anti-Generation Y thing to say!

Re:been happening forever in other forms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29975776)

An interesting IQ survey. The only way to win is not to take it.

Well, DUH! (1)

Dorsai65 (804760) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942209)

TANSTAAFL [wikipedia.org]

P.T. Barnum was very much the optimist when he observed "There's a sucker born every minute." -- it has to be a couple dozen of them, at least. Until/unless Facebook and MySpace are held accountable for their lack of ethics and accountability for what they allow on their sites, users are going to get hosed -- which is just ONE of the reasons I refuse to join either of those over-hyped operations.

Re:Well, DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942792)

Heh, don't bother blaming facebook or myspace people will find a way to get scammed without it. As you seem to believe you're smart enough not to get scammed, there's no reason for you not to join.
Not that I really care, just pointing out that your boycott of facebook does nothing.

ya no wut sounds nice: gov regs (1)

Emesee (1155401) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942215)

yep; laws and penalties. snooch.

Re:ya no wut sounds nice: gov regs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29943132)

yep; laws and penalties.

snooch.

Holy shit, is Slashdot channeling YouTube comments now?

This is news? (2, Insightful)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942221)

As others have posted, scams have been around for as long as there's been commerce. All this is, really, is more proof that P.T. Barnum was right: there's a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.

Facebook has but one agenda.... (5, Insightful)

tardis owner (1668757) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942230)

Facebook is a tool specifically geared to produce profit and be a platform for allowing others to profit. Social interaction and networking are but secondary interests at best. Yes it is free to use, free to join but in the end, it is all to get ads in front of you and get you to spend money. One can profit so many different ways. Serious (business, organizational) networking is but one way one can profit. Data Mining is probably one of the biggest sources of profit and potential profit. Project Gaydar is an example of just one data mining project and a bit on the scary/dark side of things.

Re:Facebook has but one agenda.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942486)

Data Mining is probably one of the biggest sources of profit and potential profit. Project Gaydar is an example of just one data mining project and a bit on the scary/dark side of things.

Precisely! Notice how every time you add an app or click on something, you're basically letting yet another company have full access to your information? That information is incredibly valuable to some companies (that's why credit cards have no problem "giving you" $100 or free airline tickets for signing up -- your information is worth far more than that to them).

Re:Facebook has but one agenda.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942740)

Just a quick note, a "free" companion airline ticket costs about $6. So it is cheaper to these ppl than it seems. You are dead on regarding the value of your information.

Re:Facebook has but one agenda.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942886)

Have you ever used facebook? Your personal information goes as far as your name, what state you live in, and your favorite movie spelled wrong.

Re:Facebook has but one agenda.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29943384)

Have you ever used facebook? Your personal information goes as far as your name, what state you live in, and your favorite movie spelled wrong.

Yes I have used Facebook, and I've read the terms of service. Have you? For instance, when you (or one of your friends) click on one of those links from a 3rd party developer, you've basically just added BigCorp, Ltd. as your friend. From the developer page: "Unless you change your privacy settings, an application or website that you connect with can generally access the same information that you can see about yourself and your friends, and an application or website that your friend connects with can access the same information about you that the friend can see." Yes, you can limit what they see, but by default, they have the same level as access as other "friends" you've added. Which again is quite valuable to these guys.

Re:Facebook has but one agenda.... (1)

Aeron65432 (805385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944356)

Facebook is a tool specifically geared to produce profit Isn't that the point of a business? I'm not defending the spam practices here, but it should be pretty obvious that just about every company, be it Walmart, Facebook, or Slashdot, exists to produce profit.

Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942320)

Why are FarmVille etc. even enjoyable? I can't see what would make someone so enthralled in planting virtual seeds as to abandon common sense (not to mention waste time) giving away their personal information online.

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (2, Interesting)

SpeedyDX (1014595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942352)

Why is getting high or gambling enjoyable? These are all addictions of some sort, they can't be explained purely by giving an account of perceived entertainment value versus other perceived life values.

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

tardis owner (1668757) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942438)

Sadly enough, most people are just too lazy to think. they would rather hand over their hard earned cash and waste time than pursue excellence or meaning in life. They truly are just cattle and they have a herd mentally. Frankly, most people are just waiting to die, not having any meaning in their lives other than to suffer and be a means of exploit for others. Why do they not snap out of it? 6000 years of history says they ain't going to. 6000 years of history tells them they can win, they can't break even and they can't even get out of the game. (theromdynamic principle applied to life)

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

tardis owner (1668757) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942462)

er... can't win (sorry)

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942548)

... says the guy posting on ./

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942748)

And why should they if they enjoy that? Why they should do something for their whole life that they don't enjoy?

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

tardis owner (1668757) | more than 4 years ago | (#29956864)

They have every right to do as they wish. they have every right to hand their cash away to the sellers of today's pet rock. I think of it as mindless but hey, what ever. :)

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942586)

The human brain is wired to experience pleasure when you learn or become better at a task, but isn't as well wired to discriminate on the usefulness of the task or knowledge(since it can be hard to know "usefullness" beforehand).

Since people like to feel good and the brain will reward them regardless, they find it is easiest to become good at something trivial than something hard.

I can't really look down on farmville players too much, as I've wasted entire nights on tvtropes.org

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (3, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942598)

I play Farmville, and don't buy any in-game cash, just work the available free mechanisms. I spend about twenty minutes once or twice a day.

First, I find it relaxing to just click away on my farm. In-game, a small amount of simple effort has tangible results (coins, not the cash they're selling) that I can convert to improving my farm, which leads to...

Second, there's a nice lego aspect of it, where building up coins lets you buy trees and buildings and decorations, so you can arrange your farm. The loading screen is a snapshot of someone's farm, and some people do quite impressive things, like making a farm-sized pumpkin out of coloured hay bales.

The first aspect is the basic mechanism of all games (effort->reward->advancement), and it works fine in Farmville. The second aspect is an explicit bonus, a sandbox part of gameplay that provides more reason to enjoy the game. I'll get bored of it sooner or later and stop playing, but I don't see Farmville as being a more profound waste of time than earning points in Battlefield 2142 so I can unlock the Ganz heavy machine gun.

As for giving away my personal information, I have nothing on my Facebook profile that I wouldn't share with a stranger at a party, so I don't care if it goes in a database somewhere. Zynga gets the my public profile (which is all I put on Facebook anyway), and that seems a low price to pay for some relaxing gameplay.

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

demachina (71715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944182)

That seems like a reasonable attitude towards a game, especially if its not a competitive game, its a just a time wasting affirmation of Skinner's theories on reinforcement and yes you are operating at about the same level as a pigeon.

Me personally I simply will never play a competitive game like Evony where some players gain competitive advantage either by pouring cash in to the game, or falling for scams. If a competitive game developer doesn't make a reasonable effort to maintain a level playing field they are an epic fail and aren't worth playing. Eve and WoW are almost as bad because once a clan, guild or even individual player becomes big, wealthy and entrenched that unlevels the playing field.

Re:Why is FarmVille fun? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944568)

yes you are operating at about the same level as a pigeon.

That's exactly why it's relaxing :)

I half agree with you about competitive games and allowing players to pour money in to make them more competitive. Where that's a screw job for the non-paying players is the speed of advancement. But where it's not a screw-job is if you play just to play. I bought Battlefield 2142 for $10 of EA's download site, and have been enjoying the hell out of it without worrying about advancing; moreover, I've become aware of how much advancement is the Skinnerian mechanism that keeps players playing, not enjoyment of the gameplay itself.

To put it another way, when you go into a WoW battleground with the toon you've carefully, lovingly advanced and equipped over months of play, and someone else shows up who bought their gear and toon, it's actually no skin off my nose to play with/against them, except insofar as I'm the far better player because I didn't vault into the position I'm in. Awareness of that Skinner mechanism at play actually makes it easier to enjoy a game because you realize that advancement is a fake metric.

Except in the case of a steaming pile of shit like Evony, where a 14 year old with his Dad's credit card can wipe you out in an overnight attack. But that's really an issue of bad balance and crappy gameplay, not allowing people to buy advancement.

Why I feel no guilt for stealing megacorps money (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942374)

Corporations are assholes. Thieves. Degenerates. Scammers. (Yes even the so-called good ones occasionally scam the citizens. See amazon and the erased Kindles.) I've reached the conclusion that as of this year 2009, individuals may still be good (they have morals), and single-owner companies might still be good (again, constrained by morality), but corporations absolutely can not be trusted.

Corporations are almost as bad as governments.

Re:Why I feel no guilt for stealing megacorps mone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942692)

Capitalist swine.

Microtransactions and casual, social gaming (1)

kyliaar (192847) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942420)

Over the last few months, I have heard a lot about what is causing microtransaction games such a hard time and what is preventing them from being profitable; either through the lack of a solid microtransaction method, such as with mobile app based games to things like this where it is scammers that are affecting the market. My experiences playing Evony pointed out something to me. In order for a microtransaction game to succeed, it has to have #1) enjoyable game play regardless of whether someone chooses to engage in microtransactions and #2) not implement microtransactions so that it just over-balances the gameplay in favor of those willing to spend money.

This can be extended out to any game that has in-game currency that can be potentially traded for real life currency, including WoW, even though Blizzard strictly frowns upon it. In WoW, you can make your character stronger with less effort but not in a way that changes the game for you or for others other than you will have to spend less time 'farming' for stuff yourself.

In Evony, there was a ranking system that controlled how many cities you could control. You were able to move up the ranks by finding medals and turning them in to complete quests to get the next ranks. You can get these medals in game but they were extremely rare. There were other things you could buy to speed up various aspects of the game or do other minor things, like changing your name but the main draw were the medals. So, finally I put some money into it and stopped playing the game all together shortly after because I discovered that having more cities didn't fix the aspect of the game that was disappointing me. It was a PvP game that heavily favored defense over offense so the best strategy was to just build up your defenses and appear strong enough to not get attacked. You would need to be roughly 5x - 10x stronger than an enemy to be able to knock out their defenses, assuming equal knowledge in what to build... not a fun system and not one fixed by microtransactions.

Many people continue to make massive amounts of profit through selling gold in WoW despite many games trying to monetize off similar transactions as part of their systems. Problems with microtransactions aren't what is killing them... it is the lack of a compelling game in the first place.

Re:Microtransactions and casual, social gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942502)

Re:evony's issues. The guy who made it is a chinese gold farm manager. Hence why the entire game is based around spend-spend-spend, and its extremely shady advertising.

Re:Microtransactions and casual, social gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29947006)

some call gold farms mines.

Time will help (3, Insightful)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942538)

A friend of mine recently posted this to her Facebook wall with a comment about people invading privacy and "stealing" her information:

So I asked in the nicest way possible "Did you think the people writing those quizzes were volunteers or worked for some kind of charity? What would you think if this stuff showed up in your inbox? Would you click on it?". Her reply was amazing. She TRUSTED facebook!

How is this even news? It's news because it's a new medium and people seem to need to learn all the old rules over again. There would be zero story here if these quiz offers and games were showing up in people's snail mail boxes. Just recently we've all gotten bored and thoroughly "experienced" with the same phenomenon arriving via email (w1n F1Fty d0llar$! Click here!). I don't know why people need to learn the same lessons over and over again, but they will, and then stories like this will be as dull and "back page" as stories about the mailman bringing junkmail, or nigerians wanting help in your inbox. Kind of sad but I guess that's (most) humans and there's not much to be done about it.

Re:Time will help (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943662)

So I asked in the nicest way possible "Did you think the people writing those quizzes were volunteers or worked for some kind of charity? What would you think if this stuff showed up in your inbox? Would you click on it?". Her reply was amazing. She TRUSTED facebook!

How is this even news? It's news because it's a new medium and people seem to need to learn all the old rules over again.

Facebook is a walled garden. That's why people trust it.
The old rules wouldn't have to apply if Facebook said "We frown upon your shenanigans. Fix it or get bant."

Re:Time will help (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944408)

Beware Greeks bearing gifts. Thousands of years, same lessons. Sigh.

I love the way they call it "monetizing" (2, Insightful)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29942668)

...not so long ago we called it Pimping, Prostitution and Pandering. Its that familiar stench of a french whore house and television network. Venereal "infectious" media and other social networking diseases are spreading like swine flu over every exploitable piece of social media channeled to the consumerist public. Social Networking today replaces the "soap opera" of the last generation. Only now, we're not just watching the soap while folding laundry - instead we are the soap opera, on Facebook. Now, while we're at work, we can't watch "The Hung and The Breastless" but we can kill a fifteen minute break on Myspace - and bingo! that's where they get busy with that ad budget. But the advertising is over the top on tv with hours of infomercials on half of the pay cable and satellite channels we pay to view. And the internet and social networking are going to get even worse than that. The fact is that squeezing the consumer wallet with annoying ads and phishing scams and products like enzyte is the only "monetizing" opportunity in this mass media slut fest. The fatal flaw is that "they" are diluting the effectiveness of advertising because there is too much of it, and we all resent it. And we're broke. Identity theft is the only career opportunity that's left for RONCO and Chia Pet moguls, because nobody is buying their crap. They can data mine us to death, it won't matter if we are all jobless because this is our only revenue stream. Can't we pay people to actually do something besides "slice and dice" the public in nice bite sized nuggets? Would you like the honey or mustard dipping sauce with your culture today?

FailzOr5! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29942794)

YUO FAIL IT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29943274)

The wind ap4ea3red

Google Wave....... (1)

schlick (73861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943354)

So, I wonder what this kinda stuff will look like on Google wave. I haven't received my invite yet, but I've watched their 80min video and been following several discussions about it. It seems like anyone can add anyone to a wave, so all it will take is a robot to add everyone on a server to a spam/phishing/scam wave. I wonder if you can just leave the wave? New technologies can have interesting new exploits. I don't remember Google ever addressing spam or other forms of abuse in the presentation.

Re:Google Wave....... (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943816)

You're right, it seems pretty likely the largest technology company on the planet wouldn't have anybody working for them who might just have the silly idea one day that there are one or two naughty people out there who might abuse their lovely new technology. You should pass your insights on to them, I bet they'd be really grateful.

This is no different from the trialpay and free (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29943372)

offers that give you things for signing up for trial offers or applying for credit cards, etc.

A lot of software companies use trialpay for buying the full version of Anti-virus programs or other software. Trialpay asks the user to sign up for trial offers or apply for credit cards or buy things in order to get the software for free.

When this thing first appeared it was iPods and Mac Books for free for completing a list of offers that would have been more than the iPod or Mac Book would cost.

Facebook and MySpace games require more friends to play the game better, you cannot get beyond certain levels without enough friends, and in order to get more advantage in the game using Paypal or the Offers they get virtual money to buy things in the games (like robots that stand in for friends because they don't have enough friends to play the game with them), gold/credits in the game, resetting their energy, and other stuff. One can buy their way to a better game.

You can play the game without making the trial offers, but you won't have the advantages that the people who buy virtual currency or do trial offers will get.

Facebook and MySpace games use Shockwave or Flash but are buggy and some games are still in beta test like Knighthood, etc.

Yes Facebook and Myspace should crack down on the scams but in doing so they would be upsetting their advertisers and thus their income. The advertisers collect the user's email via the applications and games and quizzes and then spam the users for products as well. That is why I don't play very many games or take very many quizzes at Facebook anymore.

Re:This is no different from the trialpay and free (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29944018)

Maybe FB and Myspace need to move to a different business model, perhaps something up front.

Here is something I'd like to see. A social network that would cost up front something a month. I pay $3 a month to last.fm just so I don't have to bother with ads, so perhaps something around that. A small fee also will slow down spammers who create dummy accounts, because they either have to cough up cash, or start committing credit card fraud in order to continue.

Then, a chunk of the incoming revenue is given to the app writers. If a lot of people play a certain program, the app writer gets a fatter check from the social network. This way, a good programmer could write something and get paid for it without having to resort to trying to sneak $10/month shenanigans into their app.

Of course, advertising revenue can come in too, perhaps offer a two tiered system, free accounts with the usual crapola Flash ads, and paid accounts which don't inflict such stuff on their users.

Re:This is no different from the trialpay and free (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#29946712)

If FB and MySpace go to pay only, they will lose a lot of customers. The Internet is supposed to be free to access, and optional to pay.

I can get rid of every Facebook or MySpace ad by using Firefox and Adblock Plus. I don't have to pay to get rid of them.

Spammers will use throw away gift cards that work as a credit card to create the "dummy" accounts to spam people with. You can buy those at Walgreens or almost any other store. $1.99 to charge it up, and then $X for how much you want to put on the Credit Card, and it is 100% anonymous.

Actually Facebook application writers get money from the companies that pay to put advertising in their programs for the "trial offers" and other things for virtual currency. They wouldn't want to change their model because Facebook nor MySpace would want to pay for traffic or else they won't make a profit. Facebook and Myspace are used so much that if they change their business model to pay app developers for traffic that they would go broke in six months. The advertisement based business model pays more, and the "trail offers" and other stuff for virtual currencies pays more as well. Just that the average social network user is stupid enough to use those "trial offers" for virtual currency in the games and get ripped off or forced into expensive memberships or magazine subscriptions or high interest credit cards or some other thing that balloons after the trial offer is over.

Profit priority? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29944392)

Welcome to capitalism.

Other examples (1)

s-whs (959229) | more than 4 years ago | (#29945812)

> The article asserts that Facebook and MySpace themselves are complicit in this,
> failing to crack down on the abuses they see because they make so much money from
> advertising for the most popular games.

I don't know about this case but I can give information on something quite similar in a very different field.

In Nl there's a website for 2nd hand stuff (that's how it started out anyway) called marktplaats. New stuff is also sold, and there's even a section on meeting people, finding people you lost contact with etc. I didn't notice that until last year, and I read some comments about people being ripped off. This was in the dating section. I thought it might be interesting to have a look see what happened when I sent a message. So, I did, and invariably those messages resulted in replies which asked me to send an SMS to a certain pay number. Which I didn't do because I don't like mobile phones (so I don't even have one...), and why should I? I know many people do like to use mobile phones for message in preference to emails, but something wasn't right. I checked the SMS numbers and it turns out if you send a message a company gets money + the person using that number. There are some legitimate possiblities for this, but all the references were for scams of women asking men (actually, vice versa too sometimes, yes it happens) to SMS, then breaking of contact when the men want to meet or something like that.

So, I examined the structure (use of language) and titles of the contact ads, and more. I concluded that most of the ads were fake.

Some more information:
  - The website did remove the relevant ads when I mentioned the SMS stuff
  - I mentioned this on the forum section of the website and after that, the number of ads dropped enormously (i.e. others complained about the offending listings).
  - No structural solution was implemented even though I suggested and easy one, which was to state on the page for each contact ad, not to use pay-SMS numbers because these are usually from scammers. That should keep replies down to scammers to want you to SMS.
  - The website makes money from the scammers as these pay to get the ad back up in front of the lists of ads regularly (so it gets visited more times). This is also of course why they don't take further actions. It also shows what kind of people run this website, they don't care about you.

Please don't say people deserve to ripped off by such scammers. That someone is stupid is not a valid reason for feeling he/she deserves to be ripped off. Assholes deserve to be ripped off, not people who may not be smart. In fact, it's not about being smart, smart people also fall for (confidence) tricks.
   

Have you ever... (1)

GastronomicalEvent (1401141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29946112)

Wanted to be a Scammer? In my new Facebook game, YOU CAN! For a small fee you can access thousands of other profiles and try to scam them. Sign up today and play with all of your Facebook friends!! Become the Nigerian Prince you've always wanted to be. Be sure to tell all of you friends so you can become the "Ultimate Scammer". Best idea I've ever had..

Foolish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948392)

Techcrunh implying this is how the games make their money when in fact it's a very small piece of their profit, at least the top 3. Then you to assume most of that is legit, the offers. There may be a few that sneak in that aren't. This article is hogwash and is attempting to make a non-story. This person is either angry about an offer they choose or more likely its a gambit to affect players like myofferpal and superrewards with some negative advertising. I'd check into the real source of this article.

the second plague from myspace to facebook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29948498)

And we thought Myspace was a zestpool. Facebook is a zestpool with a prettier exterior.

Increasing sophistication in MMO scams (2, Informative)

RogueyWon (735973) | more than 4 years ago | (#29948660)

As an MMO player, I've seen a dramatic rise in the frequency and sophistication of tricks designed to get access to players' accounts over the last few years.

As a bit of background for those who don't play these games; even though most games technically forbid it, the trade of in-game currency for real-life money is big business. A quick look around a few of the well-known sites that are used for this purpose show that, for example, 1,000 World of Warcraft gold will sell for around $10.

Now, those selling the in-game currency need to obtain it from somewhere to sell it. Traditionally, they've obtained their money via "legitimate" means, usually a sweat shop full of part-time students working shifts to keep characters earning money through fairly mechanical processes 24/7/365. I say this is legitimate, but this is only true in so far as it does not violate any game mechanics; it can have a fairly crippling effect on a game's economy and can make life much worse for genuine players. In some cases, this was augmented by 3rd-party automation software (usually called bots) which took away the requirement to have somebody at each keyboard and allowed one person to supervise a dozen or so clients.

However, in recent times, many of those involved in the in-game currency trade have decided to cut out this part of their operations. Rather than earning the cash on their own characters, they rather steal it from the accounts of other players, by gaining access to their account and stripping it bare. This has the twin benefits of not requiring anything like the human effort that earning the money directly via in-game means has and of not driving inflation (reducing the real-world value of the game's currency - unless the game's operator has a policy of refunding stolen currency).

Now, back when this first started to appear, I was still playing Final Fantasy XI, a game whose highly sophisticated and relatively unrestrained in-game economy rendered it highly vulnerable to the advances of real-currency traders (WoW, by comparison, has a pretty basic economy where players never really need much gold to get by, rendering it less fertile ground). Back then, there were three basic ways to lose your account. The first was greed; you sign up for a scam power-levelling service, or a currency trade website that requires you to register your account details. Surprise, surprise, the nice people offering this wonderful service really just empty out your account. Obviously, only the truly atupid are going to fall for something like this (though I can name one or two who did).

The second method relied on fear; you'd get an official looking e-mail, purporting to be from Square-Enix (or Blizzard - this still happens in WoW), claiming that your account was believed to be inactive/in violation or something and you needed to reply to them, stating all of your account details, to prevent it from being locked. Again, fairly basic stuff, though with a convincing enoug e-mail, you will probably always get a few suckers.

The third was pure bad-luck and not really relevant to the currency trade. I remember two FFXI players who broke up with their real-life partners and forgot that said partner had their login details - which they promptly used to trash their account.

However, just as I was making the transition from FFXI to WoW (about 2.5 years ago), more sophisticated attacks started showing up. These generally revolve around the use of keyloggers, to caputre the player's login details. The really big one that I remember, which hit a lot of FFXI players I knew at the time, involved allakhazam - a previously legitimate community site - which accidentally carried a number of malware-laden banner ads. By all accounts, the creeps behind it harvested logins for a few weeks, then struck quickly at as many accounts as they could before people wised up.

Over in World of Warcraft, the situation is even worse, largely due to the requirement that anybody who wants to play in any kind of vaguely serious raid requires 3rd party interface addons. Compromised versions of these addons, containing keyloggers, in wide circulation and, due to inadequate quality control procedures, are often hosted on legitimate, mainstream sites. Of course, you can protect yourself by getting an authenticator from Blizzard (I got one after 3 of my guild-mates were hit in the course of a single week), but it still seems to be only a minority who have done this.

To be honest, the situation in WoW is getting so serious that I honestly don't think Blizzard will have much choice but to put an authenticator in the box of every copy of the next expansion they sell.

games on facebook too annoying.... (1)

stoned_hamster (1531291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30007520)

its just so annoying when you just wanna play for fun and someone comes along in lets say, Battle Stations and just sinks your ship using paid-for weapons. I think that there should be limits on what they can and cannot do.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>