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'Absolutely the most useless Beta key in history'

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Gamers anxious to try out DC Universe Online ahead of its official release have become the targets of a scam designed to trick them into completing bogus surveys.

DC Universe Online, a multiplayer online game for Playstation 3 and PCs, will allow gamers to take out bad guys alongside the likes of Batman, Superman and other DC Comics superheroes. Fraudsters have latched onto interest in the game as a theme for fake survey scams that earn them affiliate revenues from unscrupulous web firms.

Numerous fraudulent YouTube videos and blogs have sprung up over recent days touting fake key generation tools for the eagerly-anticipated comic book themed game. Most of these videos or blog posts point to the same spamblog, which invites users to download the “DC Universe Online Beta Registration” package.

Users who attempt to download the software are obliged to complete one of a range of surveys that falsely offer iPads and the like as a potential prize for answering a few questions. In reality, the surveys attempt to hoodwink marks into handing over personal information for later spamming or worse.

Gamers taken in by the scam who progress far enough to download the supposed key generation tool will be left disappointed. The tool is not malicious, but neither does it work.

"Hitting 'Generate Code' gives you a Beta key that is absolutely the most useless Beta key in the history of anything," reports Chris Boyd (paperghost), a security researcher at Sunbelt Software and experienced gamer.

"All the program does is display the same short list of non random codes over and over again, every time you fire it up. Predictably, this doesn’t help very much when trying to join the Beta."

Survey scams have become a popular way to trick gamers into wasting their time in order to rake in disreputable affiliate incomes over recent months. Previous cons, for example, have targeted Doctor Who fans.

"Anything that takes place after you’ve filled in the survey is just filler – the story ends once you’ve filled in a survey and the scammer has generated affiliate cash," Boyd explains. "All you’re left with is a (non infectious) fake application, a bunch of non working Beta keys and a grumpy Activation Code page telling you off for repeatedly entering fake codes."

Boyd has published a full write-up of the scam, complete with screenshots, in a blog post here. ®

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