The FBI warns of criminals creating fake gaming applications (apps) to steal millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. Criminals advertise the apps as play-to-earn games offering financial incentives to players.
Criminals contact victims online and build a relationship with victims over time. Criminals then introduce victims to 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.
To participate in the game, criminals direct victims to create a cryptocurrency wallet, purchase cryptocurrency, and join a specific game app. The more money victims store in their wallet, the more rewards they will purportedly earn in the game. Victims play the game and see fake rewards accumulating in the app. When victims stop depositing funds into the wallet, criminals drain victim wallets using a malicious program victims unknowingly activated upon joining the game. Criminals tell victims they may reclaim funds by paying additional taxes or fees, but victims are unable to get their money back even if they pay the extra fees.
Tips to Protect Yourself:
- If you wish to participate in cryptocurrency-based gaming, create a unique wallet to use. This isolates your primary cryptocurrency holdings should you unknowingly grant illicit actors access to your gaming wallet.
- Use a third-party blockchain explorer to independently check the balances of the addresses in your gaming wallet.
- Periodically use a third-party token allowance checker to help you see which sites or apps you have inadvertently permitted to access funds in your wallet and revoke those permissions.
The FBI requests victims report these types of fraudulent or suspicious activities to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.