Name something popular, and you can almost always find a way scammers are using it to steal from others. In this instance, the popular thing in question is Fortnite, a free-to-play third-person shooter made by Epic Games.
And the scams? Well, they vary. But the vast majority of them revolve around offering something for nothing. And with a game like Fortnite, which offers a lot of cosmetics for sale, a lot of players are very interested in getting things for free. The bad news is, they can't.
Below, you'll find a host of Fortnite scams employed by seedy individuals online. They may look like great deals up front - sometimes costing you nothing at all. But in reality, they're a front for something more sinister. They're schemes meant to separate you from your Fortnite account, steal your financial information, hack your phone, and more.
Read through them, take notes, and make sure you don't ever fall for them. You'll be glad you did.
Fake Android versions of Fortnite
Fortnite was already extremely popular before it released a mobile version. So you can imagine how many million rushed to download the game when it became available in the iOS App Store. The game's free-to-play nature meant that anyone with a working iPhone or iPad could jump in, and naturally, those on Android also began frantically searching the Google Play Store to see if a version was ready for them.
It wasn't, and still isn't. But that hasn't stopped some clever scammers from taking advantage of the situation.
Fake apps claiming to be the Android version of Fortnite have shown up both in the Play Store and on third-party app repositories. And unfortunately, they don't do anything in the way of gaming. Instead, they conceal malicious programs that operate in the background, doing everything from mining cryptocurrency to stealing personal information.
You absolutely want to avoid these apps. Instead of searching for something that doesn't exist, keep an eye on Epic's website for information on the Android version of Fortnite. The studio will undoubtedly post links to the official Play Store page when the Android version is published and ready to be downloaded.
Any scam involving free V-Bucks
Many games are offering goodies in the form of microtransactions these days, and Fortnite is one of them. Because the game doesn't cost anything to download and play, it has to drive revenue elsewhere. That elsewhere is through the sales of player outfits, emotes, and other cosmetics, which can be purchased with a currency called V-Bucks.
In Fortnite, V-Bucks are precious. Having them means you can buy things that help customize your character. And some have discovered that there are players who are desperate for V-Bucks - players willing to sign into websites that promise V-Bucks for free.
They don't. There is no such thing as free V-Bucks, and if you've logged into a third-party site to get them, you've been scammed out of your account details.
Why is this so dangerous? Because if you've ever made a Fortnite purchase in the past, there's a good chance your payment information is attached to your Epic account. Someone with your account information can then rack up tons of unauthorized charges in the game, and can later sell your account - along with all of the fraudulently purchased cosmetics - to someone else.
Save yourself the heartache. Don't go looking for free V-Bucks. Also, make sure to set up two-factor authentication.
"Help" from online players who really just want your account
Scammy websites aren't the only vehicles used to swindle Fortnite players. There are other players in the game, too, who are looking to take advantage of those who want to obtain more cosmetics, or simply want to get better at the game. In each of these situations, it's important to follow the golden rule of the internet: never, ever hand your personal information over to another individual.
As one teen discovered, his desire to get more stuff in Fortnite wound up creating a lot of problems for him, both inside the game and out.
Jake Bates, a 13-year-old from Ohio thought he'd hit the jackpot when another Fortnite player contacted him and offered him free skins. All Jake had to do, the player said, was provide the login and password to his Epic account. But the free skins never came. Instead, the player signed into Jake's account and promptly deleted his character.
Not only that, but the player who took over Jake's Fortnite account also accessed Jake's email account. Once he signed into that, he changed the password, locking Jake out.
Jake and his mother contacted Epic with a complaint about the scam, but the simple truth is, the issue could have been avoided entirely had Jake simply followed the golden rule.
Don't give your info out.
Players who are a little too chatty with children
As you learned in the story above, younger kids - and perhaps, maybe even some naive adults - can get taken by scammers who promise them free stuff. And it's not surprising to see these things pop up in a game that's extremely popular with a younger audience. But kids in Fortnite face an even greater threat than those looking to hack into their accounts.
According to The Telegraph, pedophiles have discovered that Fortnite is played by a lot of young children. And the UK's National Crime Agency is warning parents to stay on the lookout, citing an instance where a parent had to cut her child off from Fortnite after she discovered a man had offered the child £50 to "perform sex acts."
The danger here cannot be understated. If you have a child who regularly plays Fortnite, it's important to monitor their communications with other players to ensure someone older isn't stepping out of bounds.
Anyone who wants to know your phone number and wireless carrier
Here's an outrageous scam that, for the time being, only seems to affect Fortnite players on the Xbox One. And it can cost you a whole lot of money. The worst part? The scammer doesn't even need your Fortnite account information, or even your credit card, for that matter. All they need is your phone number, the name of your wireless carrier, and your cooperation.
Scammers in Fortnite often want to obtain things like Battle Passes and cosmetics for free. And some have discovered a way to get them by using the "carrier billing" option on the Xbox One. This allows Xbox Live charges to be billed to your wireless provider, bypassing a credit card entirely. These scammers will contact another player offering a way to get free stuff and will ask for a phone number and the name of the player's wireless carrier.
Once they add the phone number to their Xbox One, scammers then ask for the text message confirmation sent to the individual's phone. If they get it, carrier billing is all set up. And the worst part is, the items they charge might not even be noticed until the next phone bill rolls around.
Remember: free anything in Fortnite is almost certainly a scam. Don't fall for it.
Accounts being sold in exchange for Xbox Live or PSN codes
Fortnite scammers make use of many different channels, including the game itself and online services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. But recently, those who are out to scam other players have been showing up in local marketplaces, offering deals that are way too good to be true.
Elijah Imani, a 12-year-old from California, fell victim to one of these scams when someone offered to sell him a tricked-out Fortnite account. Elijah's scammer wanted a $50 PSN card in exchange for the account. But after Elijah sent him the code for the card, the scammer simply vanished.
Two things here. First, you don't want to provide anything of monetary value to anyone online without some rock-solid assurance that you're getting what you paid for. This usually takes the form of buyer protection policies - like on eBay - or escrow services like on other sites.
Secondly, there's a very good chance that any Fortnite account you purchase online has been stolen from someone else. Which means Epic could shut it down at any time. Save yourself the trouble: don't buy anything that Epic isn't selling you directly.
Any app or website claiming to provide free skins
Outside of Fortnite's main objective, which is to stay alive longer than everyone else, the game has a secondary mission that most players take up. It's the loot chase: the grind to level up a Battle Pass and obtain exclusive skins and V-Bucks, which can, in turn, be used to purchase more skins. Players, if they so choose, can buy all the Battle Pass tiers, but that can get expensive. So most look for cheaper shortcuts. If you haven't figured it out by now, there aren't any. Anything "free" is almost certainly fake.
But that hasn't stopped players from downloading apps and visiting websites that promise "free" Fortnite skins. One such website is called free skins. When players visit the site in search of their free skins, they're asked to input an email address, after which they're sent links to apps that they have to download. Those who take part are supposed to get their free skins after downloading the apps. But the skins never arrive. Instead, the website likely made some affiliate revenue for driving an app download, and the player gets nothing in return.
There are lots of sites like IFreeSkins out there. Not one of them is legitimate, even though bots have made their social media channels look official. Do yourself a favor and avoid these websites altogether.