The Brief: Phishing scams have been targeting children by offering them free Fortnite V-Bucks in exchange for their personal information. Here's what you need to know about the scam and how to stop your children from falling for it.
What Are V-Bucks?
Although the video game Fortnite can be downloaded and played for free, players can purchase skins, emotes, and special weapons within the game. These purchases are made via V-Bucks: Fortnite’s currency which can be bought with real money or earned through a certain amount of gameplay. While Fortnite is making hundreds of millions of dollars a month through these purchases, scammers are taking advantage of the system as well.
On October 29, the social media protection company ZeroFOX reported rampant Fortnite scams involving V-Bucks. Over a one month period, ZeroFox’s team generated over 53,000 alerts and found over 4,770 live domains related to Fortnite scams.
Official V-Bucks are only available for through Fortnite directly, either through purchase or gameplay, but thousands of sites have been popping up, offering ways to get “free” V-Bucks. These “V-Buck Generators” comprise mostly of phishing scams in which scam sites offer free V-Bucks in exchange for personal information including names, addresses, Fortnite usernames and passwords, and credit card information. The sites often gather user information under the guise of “verifying that they are human.”
These “V-Buck Generators” are designed trick people by looking similar to Fortnite’s official site. Their domain names may have “Fortnite” in them, with some variations or misspellings. Other so-called V-Bucks generators ask visitors to click on ads in exchange for a promise of V-Bucks. Not only do these sites not actually generate any V-Bucks, but they are also scam sites looking to steal people’s information.
Along the same vein, there is a growing number of YouTube videos offering ways to obtain V-Bucks for free. Although some of these videos may have thousands of views, they are usually scams, directing people to unauthorized phishing sites in the video and/or comments section.
ZeroFOX found that 86% of the alerts reporting Fotrnite scams came from social media posts. These posts direct people to scam sites, often with positive reviews that rave about how effective they are.
As Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite does not offer an Android Mobile App, scammers have created fake Fortnite or V-Bucks apps on the Google Play store. These unofficial apps typically steal data and/or distribute malware. Google makes efforts to take down these malicious apps, but many can still be found with a search for V-Bucks. Reviews of these apps quickly reveal that they are scams.
V-Bucks scams mostly target young Fortnite players who may be more likely to believe that scam sites and apps are credible, and who may be desperate for ways to access V-Bucks for free.
Awareness of the different kinds of scams that exist and the fact that no one offering “free V-Bucks” is credible is the first step in avoiding Fortnite scams. It is important to talk to your children about these scams, as well as basic internet safety and privacy measures. Checking to make sure a website is legit, not readily giving out personal information, not believing every offer you see online, and only buying V-Bucks on official websites (Epic Games, Fortnite, Microsoft) are essential precautions to take.