Players do not have to pay to jump into the battle royale mode of “Fortnite,” an aspect of the online game that has helped it become a phenomenon. But publisher Epic Games constantly adds new costumes, or “skins,” and character animations called “emotes” that players can purchase to accessorize their game. The company also posts warnings in the game about not sharing your login information.
“I would say there is a pretty good chance that if you are trying to get V-bucks outside of that ecosystem you are probably going to get scammed,” said Sierra Filucci, editorial director at Common Sense Media, where she tracks parental issues for games and multimedia.
A massive player audience of more than 200 million – across multiple platforms including smartphones, computers, and game systems such as PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and most recently, Nintendo Switch – and its young demographic makes “Fortnite” a target for criminals. Epic sells official V-bucks and upgrades free v bucks no verification within the game, as does Microsoft and Sony within its Xbox Live and PlayStation Network online game services.
But other unofficial vendors can be found on social media, on websites and in chat sessions on the popular Twitch streaming service, where you can watch seasoned players compete. These unauthorized sellers bring with them an element of danger, cybersecurity experts say.
“Buying V-bucks outside the official stores doesn’t necessarily mean the user will get scammed,” said Benjamin Preminger, cyber-threat intelligence specialist with Sixgill, a cybersecurity firm in Netanya, Israel. “A more serious side of it is that you’re potentially party to a crime,” such as buying a stolen account or unknowingly contributing to money laundering, he said.
The amount of risk of being ensnared in other scams depends on the type of scam, Preminger said. “The damage to the victim could be anything from a simple case of losing access to your ‘Fortnite’ account to the criminal use of any credit cards attached to the account to commit carding fraud,” he said.
It’s not unusual that “Fortnite,” launched in September 2017, would draw a criminal element. The game is a cash-generating enterprise that produced as much as $3 billion in profit last year for privately-held publisher Epic Games, as reported recently by TechCrunch.