The FBI has warned consumers about a newly-detected, fake “play-to-earn” mobile and online game that tricks victims into depositing cryptocurrency, only to later steal it.
In a public service announcement, the FBI said the elaborate scheme sees scammers first contact the potential victim and try to build a relationship with them.
After a little back-and-forth, the scammers would invite the victim to play an online or mobile game, in which players purportedly earn cryptocurrency rewards in exchange for some activity, “such as growing ‘crops’ on an animated farm” the FBI said.
But getting into the “game” isn’t free – the victims must first create a cryptocurrency wallet and deposit some money, which is where the real scam begins. The fraudsters would later also tell the victims that the more funds they deposit, the higher the gains will be.
However, as soon as the victim stops depositing additional funds, the scammers drain the wallet, never to be seen or heard from, again.
In some cases, the FBI said, crooks will tell the victims that they can withdraw the deposited cryptocurrency, if they pay an additional fee, or taxes. However, all of this is just part of the scam, with the victims ending up losing even those extra deposits.
Play-to-earn is an up-and-coming gaming model that is showing real promise in the democratization of earning through gaming. There are multiple games, all built on blockchain technology, that allow players to earn significant sums of money, often by generating valuable in-game assets, which can later be either sold, or leased.
Until now, the only way to earn money through gaming was to either stream it, or become a professional player, both of which are major projects that require expensive equipment and countless hours invested in the game.
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