- Online scammers are targeting “Fortnite: Battle Royale” players with fake offers for free v-bucks, the game’s digital currency.
- Players use v-bucks to purchase cosmetic items and skins; the currency can be earned through playing or purchased outright in the game’s store.
- More than 4,700 websites are fraudulently offering free v-bucks as a front for phishing and information collection.
- Though “Fortnite” is a free game, players spend more than $US200 million each month on v-bucks. The best way to avoid being scammed is to buy them from in the game directly.
The popularity of “Fortnite: Battle Royale” continues to surge and the free game is raking in more than $US200 a month in revenue for its creator, Epic Games. While “Fortnite” is free-to-play, players can purchase a digital currency, v-bucks, to unlock cosmetic items and other content within the game. Players can also earn v-bucks over time by playing the game, though the rate of return is rather slow.
Items purchased with v-bucks don’t impact the game directly, but the coolest looking cosmetics come with a high price tag. There are those willing to pay $US50 or more to buy a certain outfit, while others need to play for hours to unlock the same skin. As a result, some “Fortnite” players resort to seeking out free v-bucks offers online, in an effort to avoid investing their own time and money.
Unfortunately, offers for free v-bucks are largely predatory, providing a front for phishing websites and other scams. These free v-bucks offers are primarily shared through social media and redirect the user to a separate website. These websites often ask users to provide their “Fortnite” account login, email, or other personal information. In some cases, they request the user to prove they are human by completing other “free offers” or surveys for things like iPhones and gift cards. Other sites require users to share specific links or invite friends to earn points towards v-bucks.
While most adults should be familiar with these sorts of phishing scams, “Fortnite” has a large audience of young children. Based on its terms of service, “Fortnite” requires players to be 12-years-old or older to make an account, but younger players have no problem accessing the free game on their own. But when parents aren’t willing to fund their child’s gaming, offers for free v-bucks immediately become appealing.
ZeroFOX Research confirmed more than 53,000 alerts for “Fortnite”-related scams in a one-month period between September and October. The vast majority, 86 per cent, came from social media posts while specific web domains and YouTube videos made up the rest. ZeroFox reports that more than 4,770 domains are currently offering v-bucks scams, and roughly 1,400 different YouTube videos have combined for more than a million views. Scammers have also targeted “Fortnite” players on mobile phones by offering fake “Fortnite” apps and downloads for Android devices.
Demand for v-bucks will persist so long as “Fortnite” remains popular, but players and parents should be careful about trying to cut corners with third-party offers. The best way to avoid scams is to only purchase v-bucks directly from the “Fortnite” store – and never share your account information online.
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