How mobile games are also a playground for scammers

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May 28, 2024
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4 min read
Call of duty mobile CODM

Mobile games are gaining popularity in Africa, from Call of Duty: Mobile (CODM) to Fortnite to PlayerUnknown's BattleGrounds (PUBG), and even Candy Crush, Africa has the second-highest number of mobile gamers (253 million) in the world after Southeast Asia (323 million).

Some of these African gamers have gone from being just hobbyists trying to pass the time to pro players and content creators, turning it into a full-time job.

We also have people using the games to scout targets for their scam activities.

I knew there was a possibility of this happening, but I never gave it much thought until I saw this post by X user, Abazz.

"One day we will talk about how yâhoo boys use PUBG and CODM to scäm people."

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Scamming in multiplayer games is not that different from social media as you're able to meet new people and communicate with them. A CODM gamer who knows how it works gave some insight into gaming scams.

How scams are carried out on CODM

Like romance scams on social media, scammers forge a relationship with their targets.

"They'll add you as a friend in the game and call you from time to time to join matches,"says the player who goes by the name *Captain Lenny.

Though it is just a game it's is easy to build trust in CODM. Helping out a friend in a heated battle often goes a long way in forging relationships. And like social media, people use the game as an outlet to catch up and discuss with friends.

The scammer strikes once a relationship has been established.

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"After like a month or two, he could say, 'There's this new gun that's out, and I'd really love to buy it.'"

Buying weapons on CODM is a status symbol and they can sometimes be expensive. These weapons set a player apart with cool kill animations and once the target sends the money, which is usually between ₦30,000 and ₦50,000, the scammer could end the friendship or squeeze some more money from the target.

Beyond the weapon purchase approach, there's another scam called the COD Points (CP) scam.

CP is the virtual money or in-game currency used within the game to get shiny new guns and character skins. You can buy CP directly on CODM, but with naira cards unable to do this, players purchase through third parties like Carry1st.

Some individuals also sell CP and, like Carry1st, they sometimes sell to players at a discount.

The CP scam involves posing as a third-party CP seller. The scammers find their mark through the game, gain their trust, and inform them that he sells CP. Once they send money to purchase CP, he bolts.

Gaming scams are also a thing outside Nigeria

Gaming scams aren't unique to Nigeria or CODM. Research by Lloyds Bank between 2021 and 2022 showed that 20% of gamers in the UK have fallen victim to gaming scams.

These scams also have different variations. For example, this Forbes article about gaming scams shows that some fraudsters target children who play Roblox or Fortnite. Like CODM, these games are multiplayer survival games that allow players to chat with teammates for a more immersive experience.

Fraudsters communicate with young players and trick them into sharing passwords and usernames to their game accounts linked to debit or credit cards used to purchase in-game currencies.

Some fraudsters also trick these young players with promises to reward them with in-game currencies if they click on ads. These ads typically contain malware that can track login information.

Another one similar to the CP scam Captain Lenny spoke about is the creation of a fake website that sells in-game currencies. These fake websites can track a gamer's login information and account details.

How not to be a victim of gaming scams

Captain Lenny's first advice is not to trust easily. Although there isn't data on how many Nigerians have fallen victim to gaming scams, he reveals that he has encountered a number of scammers during games.

The red flags for a possible scammer are when they start by asking for mobile data or even send you data without you asking. And when it comes to buying CP from a third party, he recommends using a middleman, especially a well-known gaming creator.

These middlemen will serve as an escrow that will hold onto the payment until both parties are done with the deal. This is also where he emphasises the need to join gaming communities on WhatsApp and TikTok to stay in the loop of who the trusted CP sellers are and who to use as a middleman for CP transactions.

Buying CP or any other in-game currency could also be done directly in the game or on any other trusted third-party platform.

However, the red flags for other sophisticated scams might not be as obvious.

For example, clicking ads on a website for money might seem harmless and a way to make a quick buck, but if you fall for them, added securities such as two-factor authentication could come in handy.

Parents whose children play these games should not allow their kids to carry unsupervised confirmation of transactions.

Multiplayer games have created an opportunity to compete and have fun with people all over the globe; however, there will be bad actors who'll use them for the wrong things, so when you put on bulletproof to wipe squads with your legendary gun, make sure your bank account is scam proof.


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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.
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He's a geek, a sucker for Blockchain and an all-round tech lover. Find me on Twitter @BoluAbiodun1.

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