ACCC Warns About Kids Being Scammed Through Video Games

ACCC Warns About Kids Being Scammed Through Video Games
Image: Riot Games

Australia’s competition watchdog Tuesday morning issued a warning for parents and guardians to protect kids against being scammed in online games like Fortnite. The call was part of a broader missive warning that Aussies under the age of 25 are getting scammed more often.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission warned that around 12,000, or 7.15 percent of reports to Scamwatch last year came from Aussies under the age of 25. The figure was 11 percent up from last year, with Instagram and Facebook the most common platforms for scams for the age group, generally relating around “fake online stores or the sale of fake tickets to events”.

But the ACCC is also warning about games like Fortnite, saying kids could be targeted in-game by those selling fake items or “unlocked achievements”.

“Scammers can also target children who play online video games, such as Fortnite, by offering unlocked achievements or special items in exchange for money or gift card codes without ever transferring the item,” the regulator warned. “By targeting children, scammers could obtain personal and banking information from the individual’s parents,” Delia Rickard, deputy chair of the ACCC, said.

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Scams through video games aren’t new. Players have run into all sorts of issues trying to pick up special skins in games like Counter-Strike. There’s a wealth of fake versions of games like Fortnite that appear on the Play Store from time to time. League players have been spammed with phishing attacks in the past, and the problem came around often enough that Riot made an animated video about account security.

It’s all a good lesson and warning for parents: pay attention to what your kids are doing online. Also, disabling global chat isn’t a half bad idea, although since the majority of the gaming community lives on Discord now, so keep a close eye on that too since there’s all sorts of scams there.

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  • “Under the age of 25” feels like an unconscious attempt to extend the range of the classic “won’t someone please think of the children” fallacy. Or perhaps, more likely, it’s just a statistical blip that seemed worthy of a quick press release to make it feel as if the ACCC is actually doing something instead of just tabulating scam reports in an Excel spreadsheet.

    I think in this case I’m willing to give the ACCC the benefit of the doubt, because they’ve also called out pensioners getting scammed in the past, but the age of 25 seems a particularly odd line to draw, and conflating under 25s with ‘children’ in the second half of the press release is not a line I’m entirely comfortable with.

    The moral of this story those of you who are kids under the age of 25, and your responsible adult guardians, is that the internet is a dangerous place. Be afraid!

    Obviously, none of which should be taken to imply I have anything but sympathy for those being scammed. People who scam all age groups should die a horrible death with prejudice, not just those scamming under 25s.

    • 25 sounds about right, because there are “adults” dumb enough to fall for it.

      I’ve caught a few scams in progress and after identity verification (in the form of them sending their personal info to the scammers and a one-on-one video call), were actually young adults (between 18 and 25). Oh boy, the stupidity.

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