“So many companies, especially game companies, think there’s no reason they’d get attacked, and they just don’t realize how vulnerable they are,” says Scott Adams, CEO of FraudPvP.com, and former director of fraud and risk at Riot Games. The company had nobody in house dealing with fraud, and hacking, cheating, and financial fraud was a serious issue. He worked to build teams across the world to combat fraud and risk issues at Riot. How is the fraudster making money? “Most game companies go into this field to create a game — they’re not payments and fraud people,” he says. “Almost no engineer starts at a game company and says, ‘Hey, I want to work on fraud.’ They want to build a game.” Because of that, especially in games, these companies are at risk. How could there be profit for a fraudster in this thing we’re building? “It’s so simple to use bots to create fake accounts,” Adams says. Some game companies will see something like a chargeback, or catch an account that seems to have been taken over, but won’t fight them, or close the account, or take away the stolen items. “They want to keep gamers playing — they don’t want to create a bad experience for the gamer,” Adams says.
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“So many companies, especially game companies, think there’s no reason they’d get attacked, and they just don’t realize how vulnerable they are,” says Scott Adams, CEO of FraudPvP.com, and former director of fraud and risk at Riot Games. “There are so many issues around hacking and cheating, all the way down to payments.”
Initially brought in as a contractor by Riot Games to just fix their chargeback problems, Adams saw that those issues were only the beginning of the problem. The company had nobody in house dealing with fraud, and hacking, cheating, and financial fraud was a serious issue. He worked to build teams across the world to combat fraud and risk issues at Riot.
His fraud teams even went after and shut down some of the multi-million dollar cheating and hacking companies — ones that created services to help people cheat, from in-game item hoarding to in-game resource stealing, using brute force to hack APIs to steal codes.
Games have a particularly unique set of challenges in fraud detection Adam explains. If this were a merchant, an online digital or physical goods company, you can almost always predict the fraud by thinking about profit. How is the fraudster making money? It’s always simple: they put in a stolen card, test it, and then go sell the card. Or they use the card to buy merchandise and drop-ship it to different places, pick it up, and resell those goods, or use them if that’s what they want.
But with a game, there’s a number of other factors that a lot of people forget about, he says.
“For instance, just ego — the profit doesn’t have to be money,” he says. “It could be that these are people who like to play games. Fraud can be looked at as a game. Can I beat the big game companies? That alone could be the motivation.”
Just as common, and not as obvious to a non-gamer, is the question of in-game items and status and money. Gamers covet the big items of power, the fancy armor, the spectacular mounts and upgraded weapons. They want more in-game currency to buy the things that seem out of reach.
“To a non-gamer it means nothing, but to the gamer it means everything,” Adams says. “The fraudsters take advantage of that.” And it works so often, he says, because there is a huge demographic of kids and young adults in the gaming world.
For instance, fraudsters will offer a discount on in-game currency, which they gain by using stolen credit cards, and then players are asked to log in to a site that looks exactly like the game site, to download their new cash, which they’ll do without a thought. And of…