'Fortnite' Free V-Bucks Scam: How to Spot Fake Websites Pushing Hacks, Cheats, In-Game Money

Fortnite players are being targeted by social media scammers who are using websites claiming to offer free in-game currency, known as V-Bucks, to hijack accounts and pilfer personal data.

British authorities said on Monday that they had received 35 reports of Fortnite-related fraud between April 1 and March 31, with up to $6,800 (£5,120) being stolen in total. Complaints were lodged by dozens of angry parents who discovered their kids had been exploited by the scams.

In the majority of cases, players are directed to follow links spread across social media platforms like Facebook which claim to offer free in-game money, used to purchase cosmetic items for their character. In reality, fraudsters set up "phishing" websites to log personal information and account details.

According to Action Fraud, which revealed the scale of the issue, culprits have asked for phone numbers in return for fake V-Bucks which could then be used to sign the victim up to premium rate subscription services. In other cases, scammers sold access to the stolen Fortnite accounts. On Tuesday, Newsweek found one such site and followed the links to document the short path to fraud.

A quick Google search resulted in multiple websites flogging "100% Safe Free V-Bucks," some claiming to be working in partnership with the legitimate Fortnite developer, Epic Games. Behind one link, a slick website using Fortnite branding states: "I have V-Bucks to give you! What's your Username?" Following through the victim is offered three options, for V-Bucks packs of 2,800, 7,500, and 13,500.

Fortnite phishing step one: Asking for the player's Username Newsweek/Screenshot

Clicking add, the website claims to be connecting to Epic Games and Fortnite severs but eventually stops for further verification. "To be sure that you are not a bot it's necessary that you complete a security verification," a pop-up box states. "After you complete the verification it will be credited 7,500 V-Bucks in your account." Continuing on leads to three separate phishing websites.

This stage in the phishing scam asks for 'verification' from the victim. Newsweek/Screenshot

The first is a questionnaire for the U.K. retailer Primark offering £200 and the other two are scam surveys touting ways to win Apple phones, including the iPhone 7 and iPhone X. In each case, the URL is largely gibberish. In the next stage, it asks for personal details including name, email address, date of birth, postcode, city, address number, street number, mobile phone number and financial details.

Anything from this point on will be sent the whoever created the info-stealing website.

A fake landing page posing as an Apple survey attempts to hijack personal details from the victim. Newsweek/Screenshot

The same scam is present on YouTube, where videos are pushing Fortnite hacks and cheats. On Twitter, a slew of accounts are spreading links to suspicious sites promoting fake V-Bucks.

"It is vital that both parents and those playing games online are able to spot the signs of fraud, as fraudsters will go to great lengths to try to steal your money," said fraud expert Pauline Smith.

"It is important that parents make their children aware of the threat of fraud online. If you are downloading or purchasing game add-ons, make sure you use the official website. You should never reveal your password or banking details to someone you don't know."

Action Fraud officials revealed that Steam Card fraud—when scammers pose as a business to dupe victims into handing over serial code numbers on the back of the physical card—was also on the rise and had resulted in losses of $58,871 (£44,455) over the same April 1 and March 31 period.

But Fortnite, with its millions of players, remains a popular lure online. Earlier in June, it emerged that fake downloads posing as an Android version of the game were in circulation online, despite the title not yet being released for that platform. Links were being spread using YouTube, experts said.

In early June, Epic Games published a security bulletin warning of recent account compromises from "well-known hacking techniques." It advised against ever sharing sensitive data while online.

It said: "We've seen several instances of account theft and fraud related to websites that claim to provide you free V-Bucks or the ability to share or buy accounts. Please never share your Epic account details with anyone. Epic will never ask you for your password through email, social media, or a non-Epic website. Groups claiming to provide special Fortnite deals this way are fraudulent."

V-Bucks can be earned in Fortnite by completing daily in-game challenges or purchased online.