You were just getting used to your kid’s obsession with Fortnite, and now, all you hear about is V-Bucks. V-Bucks, like Robux on Roblox, are Fortnite’s in-game currency. Players use them to buy the fun “skins” (characters and outfits) and “emotes” (those hilarious dances like “Flossing” and “Take the L”) that kids say they totally need to make Fortnite even cooler. For the record: You don’t need V-Bucks to play Fortnite, and if you do spring for them, they cost real money. Also, online scammers are all over V-Bucks.
Fortnite’s incredible popularity among kids has made it an easy target for rip-off artists trying to make some actual bucks while the game is hot. A recent study from online security company ZeroFox discovered more than 4,700 fake Fortnite websites, and the company sent out more than 50,000 security alerts about Fortnite scams in a single month. Kids are particularly vulnerable to requests to turn over personal information, including names and email addresses or even credit card numbers. Here’s how you can spot the scam and protect your kids.
What to watch out for
V-Bucks generators. “V-Bucks generators” are one of the biggest online Fortnite scams. These are often websites that offer people points for watching or clicking on ads, and these points can supposedly be traded in for free V-Bucks within Fortnite. Not only do these free V-Bucks never appear, these sites often try to collect people’s Fortnite usernames and passwords or have them take surveys where they submit personal data under the pretense of verifying that they’re human.
Fake domains. Similar to V-Bucks generators, there are also tons of sites that claim to offer free V-Bucks or trick people into buying fake ones. These fake domains mimic developer Epic Games’ and Fortnite’s real styles, colours, and fonts to fool people. Some even put “Fortnite” in the URL. These sites also collect personal information, but they often go a step further — directly charging a credit card or bank account.
Social media scams. One of the most popular ways that scams are spread is through social media. Fake sites and V-Bucks generators often encourage people to share their links to get more points, which helps expose the scam to more people. Plus, these links often direct users to suspicious apps and malware that can also target your kid’s personal information.
YouTube video scams. Similar to link-sharing scams on social media, there are tons of YouTube videos offering free V-Bucks and more. These fake videos and accounts have millions of views and send gamers to other sketchy sites.
Fake Android apps. After Epic Games made the controversial decision not to offer their Android app in the Google Play Store, scammers took advantage by putting up fake Fortnite apps. Although they’re designed to look like Fortnite, they’re really data theft and malware distributors in disguise.
Tips to avoid getting scammed
Talk to your kids about how to spot and avoid Fortnite scams and other scams online. Here are some tips to keep your kid’s information private and your money safe:
Be cautious when you give out private information. Tell kids to check with you before filling out forms, quizzes, registration pages, and the like on a website or app. For older kids, teach them to think carefully about why a site or app might want your data.
Only spend real money through official platforms. PlayStation, Xbox, Epic Games’ official website, and the official Fortnite app are the only places to buy V-Bucks. Anything else is a scam.
Double-check URLs and domain names. Talk to kids about scams and how some sites or apps look very similar to the official ones but are designed to trick you into giving up money or information. Domain names and URLs might have only one letter or symbol that’s different from the original, so look carefully.
Fortnite: boys are targets for sexual extortion
In November, police near Montreal were warning teenagers about the dangers of sharing explicit photos online after some boys were targeted through Instagram and told they would be offered access to a higher level in Fortnite in exchange for images. Police say the suspects used fake avatars to infiltrate groups of friends. The targeted boys were then told the images would be shared if they didn’t send even more explicit photos. The Richelieu-St. Laurent police force reported four such cases and said they believe there could be more and cautioned youngsters about sharing any personal information or sexually explicit images over the Internet. – by Kelly Wilton