If you play Fortnite, you're undoubtedly craving V-Bucks, the in-game currency that allows players to purchase outfits, tools, and passes that unlock additional items for your characters. The problem is that obtaining V-Bucks requires either time or money: you can purchase them directly from Epic Games, the game's developer, or you can collect them by completing time-consuming tasks within the game.
Do you know how you CAN’T get V-Bucks? For free from 3rd parties.
It’s not uncommon to see offers for free V-Bucks from fellow online players or users on message boards. These sources typically guide you to YouTube videos with instructions on obtaining that free in-game currency. All you need to do is go to another website and provide some information about your account so they know where to send the currency.
Beware: If someone offers you free V-Bucks — or any other in-game currency — you've most likely been targeted by a scammer who wants access to your gaming account and credit card, or who wants to mine Bitcoin through your computer.
The main takeaway? If someone is offering you free V-Bucks, it isn’t because they’re trying to be a nice person.
The Allure of In-Game Currency
In-game currency is available in most popular online games, such as Fortnite and Minecraft, an online game allowing the creation of virtual worlds. Players use this currency, V-Bucks in Fortnite and Minecraft Coins in Minecraft to buy items in-game or improve their player’s abilities. Many businesses that provide free-to-download games make money from in-game purchases. Just how much are players spending? Nearly 90% of respondents in a 2020 Top Dollar survey admitted to spending money on in-game purchases. The survey found that players spent an average of $229 on in-game purchases. But that’s not all. About a third of respondents said they’ve spent more than $500 on in-game purchases. The top 5%, though, spent a whopping $1,000 or more on in-game purchases.
When you look at a list of the most popular mobile games, you'll see that the majority of them offer in-game currency. Fortnite called them V-Bucks; Minecraft has Minecraft Coins; Roblox offers Robux; Call of Duty Warzone has COD Points; FIFA offers FUT Coins, etc. These in-game currencies can be earned by completing tasks in games (though these tasks are often repetitive and time-consuming) or purchased in online shops.
However, if anyone offers you these currencies for free in exchange for including your online gaming account log-in details or clicking on online ads, run the other way. You're dealing with a scam attempt.
Scams involving in-game currency
How can cybercriminals deceive you with free in-game currency offers? They might promise you free Robux, Shards, or V-Bucks if you just give them your account details. That way, they can deposit the currency into your account. For someone who doesn't know better, or for a child who doesn't understand the dangers of the Internet, it makes perfect sense.
But what happens after they have this information? They never give you free in-game currency. Instead, they use your gaming account to steal your personal and financial information. This may include your credit card number, allowing scammers to make fake online purchases using your card.
But that's just one example of an in-game currency scam. Other scam artists may sell you a package that you must download onto your device. These scam artists can claim that the bundle includes a mix of in-game currencies, uniform updates, cheat codes, and other goodies. But what happens when you download the pack? It's full of malware.
Scammers use the malware to gain control of your computer, spy on your internet browsing activities, gain access to your emails and online financial records, and even monitor the keystrokes you make when surfing the web. This malware can sometimes be programmed to perform a particular mission.
Scammers claiming to provide free V-Bucks to Fortnite players often conceal malicious code in the V-Bucks they claim to be giving away. This malware attacks gamers' Bitcoin wallets, which are online wallets that carry the Bitcoin virtual currency, as they click on a link to get the free currency. The scammers will then take this money from the victims' pockets and use it to make online transactions of their own.
Scams on YouTube are also popular. Scam artists post videos on YouTube offering fans free in-game money by using cheats. The explanations of the videos have links to third-party websites. As victims click on these links, they are brought to websites that ask for their gaming account login information. If you give up this information, you've just given a scammer your account's payment information.
How to avoid in-game currency scams
Fortunately, avoiding these scam artists is easy. What is the key? Never trust someone who claims to be able to give you free in-game currency.
Use browser protection.
When you use browser protection, websites containing scams (like phishing scams trying to get your gaming account login information) and those that contain malicious downloads are automatically blocked. This allows you to take the guesswork out of determining if an offer is legit or if it’s a scam.
Ignore offers that sound too good to be true.
It's important to maintain a healthy level of cynicism. If anyone you meet online offers you free in-game currency in exchange for clicking a link or visiting a website, ignore them. Nobody is going to give you in-game currency for free. The value of V-Bucks, Robux, Radianite Points, and other gaming currency is just too high. What do they truly have to gain? Nothing, unless there's an ulterior motive at play.
Don’t click on links promising free in-game currency.
Clicking on the wrong link can result in malware downloads or visits to websites that contain phishing scams. You may also land on a page that appears so similar to that of your gaming platform that you don’t realize you’re on a different website altogether. Scam artists are very skilled at what they do and aren’t in the business of scamming because it isn’t profitable.
Keep your private information private.
You should never, ever share your login credentials with another person for any reason. All it takes is one time for a scammer to wipe your account of your in-game currency and loot. They can also steal the payment details saved to your account to make purchases for themselves or them share with others. If you’re ever asked for your login information, know with 100% certainty that you’re dealing with a scam artist.
Buy in-game currency only from trusted sources.
You can earn in-game currency during gameplay. Game publishers make this option available for anyone who doesn’t want to spend their real-life money on in-game currency. But, they make this option time-consuming as a way to encourage players to fund the game by purchasing in-game currency. If you choose to spend your real-life money on in-game currency, make sure that you do it through the game publisher directly and not through an unauthorized third party.
There's a very valid reason why so many game publishers rely on in-game sales for revenue: Players get impatient. They can level up faster by purchasing power-ups, cheat codes, and in-game money.
But don't let your impatience drive you to make poor choices: someone who gives you free in-game currency isn't doing it out of kindness. Scam artists have turned gaming dollars into lucrative scams. Always buy your in-game money from reputable sources, and never fall for a deal that seems too good to be true.