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Scammers exploit wannabe demon-slayers hyped by Diablo III

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Cybercrooks latched onto the release of Diablo III on Monday with a run of scams themed around the widely anticipated video game.

Blizzard's games systems collapsed due to the higher than expected demand for the demon-slaying game, The Guardian reports.

The software company is attempting to stop pirates from nicking the new game by forcing wannabe warriors to log into its servers before they can start playing the role-playing game, even if they only want to try a single-player offline campaign.

This has created a bottleneck centered around log-in systems at Blizzard, which has struggled to service demand.

Technical glitches at Blizzard were an unexpected bonus for scammers, who have launched a raft of scams featuring the promotion of bogus crack and keygen sites. These fake sites might potentially be more attractive than they normally would be as gamers struggle to get their hands on legitimate content through regular channels.

Some of the scam sites that GFI Software has identified include supposed online key purchasing websites, that actually install dodgy software on the users' PC. Other spammy Diablo 3-themed links collated by the security firm actually lead to unrelated flash games, spam linkdumps and a “donation experiment” where installs of the software on offer enter marks into a supposed prize draw giveaway. Other shenanigans on show include links to survey scams and YouTube videos offering "expert tips" on the hours-old video game.

These various scams are being promoted through the web at large and social media websites, including Facebook and Pinterest.

More details of these scams can be found in a blog post by GFI Software here.

Chris Boyd, senior threat researcher at GFI Software, and an expert in gaming security, told El Reg that the scams coinciding with the release of Diablo 3 are similar to those that have accompanied a succession of major gaming releases over recent months.

"Major releases have been an excellent target of scammers for some time now, from Fake AV [anti-virus] to SEO poisonings. There have been a number of scams targeting those stuck on Red Dead Redemption's treasure map hunts in 2010 and malware links posted to Twitter aimed at fans of Portal 2 in 2011. The most recent example of scammers looking to profit comes from Mass Effect 3, where scammers utilised surveys that promised an alternative ending to the game."

More scams accompanying future high-profile video game releases are almost inevitable, Boyd warned.

"Diablo 3 is one of the most anticipated titles of the last few years and it's only natural that dubious downloads are now in circulation. Games are now a huge draw for anybody looking to turn a fast profit," he concluded. ®

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