Virtual World Phishing

Though many MMORPGs have "fishing" as a profession, I recently received the first phishing email related to VWs. Yes, it seems that your game account may be as valuable and vulnerable as your bank account.

The full message is provided under the fold, along with some commentary about it.

From: Eve Team ""

Date: September 3, 2005 10:20:26 PM EDT


Subject: Limited Account Access - Eve-online

We are contacting you because on 2 Sep 2005 our Account Review Team
identified some unusual activity in your account. In accordance
with Eve's User Agreement and to ensure that your account has not
been compromised, access to your account was limited. Your account
access will remain limited until this issue has been resolved.

To secure your account and quickly restore full access, we require
you to login in you account .This process is mandatory, and if not
completed within the nearest time your account may be subject for
suspension or will be banned

To securely confirm your Eve-Online information please click on the
link bellow:

[Redacted to avoid mistaken logins]

We encourage you to log in and perform the steps necessary to
restore your account access as soon as possible. Allowing your
account access to remain limited for an extended period of time may
result in further limitations on the use of your account and
possible account closure.

Thank you for using Eve-online!
The Eve Team

As you can see, the href for the link actually takes you to "" a domain that the whois record indicates is owned by "Juan de Diego" of Madrid. Of course whois records are notoriously flaky, so it's anyone's guess who is running this scam.

The mechanics of the phishing attempt are no more sophsticated than usual, but I'm struck by the fact that the scammers are now phishing for login details for virtual worlds. Presumably they empty the account as soon as they get the password, by transferring the assets to their accounts, and then they sell the virtual assets on eBay. It's an indication of how significant the asset holdings are in some of these worlds, that it's worth setting up a scam like this for the account details. And it can hardly be an accident that the first one targets EVE--a world known mostly for its trade.

Expect more attempts in other MMORPGs in time.

Comments on Virtual World Phishing:

Steve says:

Ebay? IGE, more likely.

Posted Sep 8, 2005 1:52:33 PM | link

Scott Jennings says:

This isn't new by any means. Usually scams like these will direct users to a website that appears to be run by the MMORPG company in question and presented with a login screen. Accounts who are collected then are cleaned out of any liquid assets.

Variations on this theme include "You have been selected for our new beta!" and "You've been given a free account! Click here to set up."

Our always amusing Internet Relations Manager has at times made a game out of warning our users of these:

Posted Sep 8, 2005 2:26:34 PM | link

Scott Jennings says:

Hm, links should really auto-HTML themselves. :)

Posted Sep 8, 2005 2:27:10 PM | link

Grax says:

"To secure your account and quickly restore full access, we require you to login in you account .This process is mandatory, and if not completed within the nearest time your account may be subject for suspension or will be banned"

I love how these scamming nerds can go out of their way to punctuate and spell correctly for the first few paragraphs, and then you inevitably see lapses such as the paragraph I just quoted. There's about 5 serious errors in it, and even though EVE's team is from Iceland (which results in the occasional typo in its game), the scammers are losing a fair portion of their targeted fishies by not investing 60 more seconds of their time in some proofreading.

Posted Sep 8, 2005 2:33:49 PM | link

LK says:

No surprise that phishers are looking for other lucrative markets, but thanks for posting the info so that these scams don't take people off-guard. Worth an update to the recent post we did on our blog about worms and other malware that attempt to steal such account info -- thanks!!

Posted Sep 8, 2005 3:51:28 PM | link

Paul says:

What about phishing while in game?

Posted Sep 8, 2005 6:50:06 PM | link

Michael Chui says:

Since I don't have an EVE account, I felt safe clicking on the link. Doesn't work; you get a 404

Posted Sep 8, 2005 9:37:44 PM | link

Brent Parker says:

On a completely unrelated note (I wish I could submit stuff to TN): Ex -WoW devs form a new company and are looking for talent.

Posted Sep 9, 2005 1:38:04 AM | link

Loredena says:

This type of phishing email showed up rather frequently in Everquest as well. Like DaoC, the Community Rep would generally post a sample and remind everyone that this sort of email would never be sent out.

Posted Sep 9, 2005 12:12:23 PM | link

Carnildo says:

This is nothing new. I remember various phishing techniques (in-game, on the forums, and email) being used in the early Runescape beta. This would have been about four years ago.

Posted Sep 9, 2005 12:13:43 PM | link

Daniel S. Holder says:

In Diablo 2, phishers tell noobs to check their stats by whispering their account name and passord to a third-party member (someone with a registered name of like "BlizzTech" or "BlizzStats"). While this is common, it is interesting the lengths to which some phishers will go. It seems as if the one who wanted your account is very devious. I expect means of phishing will only get more subtle.

Posted Sep 9, 2005 1:24:58 PM | link

Ray says:

Man, you think that's bad? The other day, someone attempted the first scam in a VW on me. It was unreal. I guess it goes to show how valuable in-game items are to some people!

Posted Sep 14, 2005 2:44:44 PM | link

R.Borra says:

"Expect more attempts in other MMORPGs in time."

In fact, this has been going on for year(s) already and is not really new. But yes, it is increasingly becomming problematic. In south korea,,2000061744,20277029,00.htm>over 50% of the cybercrimes involve games and the selling game money to launder the ill gotten money.

And why would we be surprised? With all the impressive quotes about the total value going on in what's called the secondary market of MMORPG's, something like this could only be expected.

Posted Sep 14, 2005 5:00:31 PM | link

Paul says:

Runescape is plagued with these scammers. Every time there is a game update people will start saying something like "the new update blocks your password when you typre it. Look! ******" And with fansites like Rune Tips people are always sending out e-mails to players with spoofed e-mail adresses from "". Also some people have been puting keyloggers in image files and putting them in there signatures on fansite forums.

Posted Jan 15, 2006 10:54:55 PM | link