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Halo scams

Halo Reach has been doing rather well since the game was launched last week. Of course, this means scammers have marked it as a target for shenanigans. I thought it would be a good idea to have a quick look at some of the most common pitfalls to avoid. I haven’t touched phishing, as Bungie (the Halo developers) have covered that one nicely here so we’ll leave it at that. Here comes the list of woe:

1) Free generators. It doesn’t matter whether they’re offering up free armour downloads, extra weaponry or, er, “flaming helmets” – you can bet hard cash that whatever they’re pimping will not work. Many of these sites lurk on free blog hosting, advertised via Youtube:

Halo tube vids
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Regardless of how convincing the site looks, or whether the Youtube clip has lots of comments saying “Thanks” for the download (those comments are fake) all you’ll get for the time wasted on sites such as these will be a fake application that doesn’t do anything and lots of surveys to fill in.

Halo generator
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Fake Halo site
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Fake application
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2) Something else gamers should be wary of is stumbling onto infected sites that through accident or design (in the form of Blackhat SEO) are touting all manner of Malware. Below is a search for a game changing Halo Skull that has been mistyped (it should actually be “IWHBYD”). One little letter missing, and the end-user would be stumbling onto a URL flagged with the “This site may harm your computer” warning from Google Search.

Halo search results
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The last time the above site was doing strange things was on the 23rd of this month – the infection domains serving the malware are all giving 404 errors at the moment. Gamers should always be careful when searching for hints and tips on games – they’re quite a popular target for SEO poisoning.

3) Modding / hacking XBox accounts for cash, buying high level profiles, giving control of your account to strangers to let them increase your score.

All of the above are bad ideas – modding accounts can easily be detected, and the banhammer is probably going to fall on your head shortly afterwards. Here’s someone selling a “high level account” on Ebay whose main selling point is “a Legit account that has 294,624 gamerscore. Offline, it is a Lt in Halo Reach, with everything unlocked, and with 2 million credits.”

Selling some accounts
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Purchasing random accounts on Ebay? Bad idea. Many scammers phish accounts, mod them to artificially increase the Gamerscore then sell them on. If your new account gets busted, too bad – both your cash and your account are gone.

You’ll probably want to avoid deals such as the below on Ebay too:

Gamerscore mods
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Finally, it goes without saying that you should never hand over login details to “helpful” gamers who want to increase your score – things will go wrong in a hurry.

There will probably be many more scams related to Halo Reach over the coming months, but the above list hopefully gives you an idea of what the most common ones will be.

Also, the last level of Halo 3 was terrible.

Christopher Boyd