Fortnite ChargebacksScammers Leave Gamers Trying To Recoup Losses

May 10, 2024 | 7 min read

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An ominous fortnite character holding v-buck coins, he is selling them illegally to commit fraud, in the style of fortnite video game, in the style of red and teal - combined with - screenshot from fortnite, female character wearing red holding coin with "V" on it, teal background, detailed, in the style of red and teal.

Fortnite Chargebacks

In a Nutshell

Game developer Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, are removing the tons of the in-game currency, V-Bucks, from users’ accounts. This is happening because scammers posing as third-party sellers engage in triangulation fraud, leaving customers out in the cold.

Epic Games is Removing V-Bucks From Users’ Accounts in Response to Fraud & Chargebacks

One of the main appeals of the smash-success Fortnite game franchise is the chance to switch up your character's look.

The game lets players add some swag to their characters, or even slip on a skin to change their character entirely. V-Bucks — Fornite’s in-game currency — are what you need to style your avatar. They come at a price, though; you need to buy them with real money.

Now, let’s say you see an ad promising V-Bucks at a steep discount compared to the prices charged by game developer Epic Games. Sounds too good to pass up, right? In fact, it sounds too good to be true… because it probably is.

Fortnite Chargebacks

What’s Happening?

Game developer Epic Games, the creators of Fornite, are removing V-Bucks from users’ accounts. As the developer notes on their site:

If you receive a message in Fortnite that an item or some V-Bucks were removed from your account, this is because a refund or payment reversal was processed on your account. This usually happens when a refund request has been made or a chargeback has been issued with your payment provider. When this happens, our system automatically removes items that have been purchased within 30 days to cover the cost of the total V-Bucks refunded. Epic Games Player Support cannot restore these items.

This is increasingly due to scammers posing as third-party V-Buck sellers. They’re using stolen cardholder information to buy V-Bucks, then resell them at a discounted price and pocket the difference. This leaves players out in the cold once the scam is discovered.

Social media platforms are prime real estate for spreading these scams. Fraudulent sites often incentivize sharing their links with promises of extra points, which only serves to spread the scam further through your network, as seen in the example below:

Fortnite Chargebacks

YouTube is another hotspot, hosting thousands of dubious videos that direct you to questionable websites. These videos are watched by thousands of players looking for free or discounted V-Bucks. It doesn't stop there; the market is now even riddled with fake Fortnite Android apps designed to capture victims’ information.

How the Scam Works

The most direct route to purchase V-Bucks is through Fortnite’s official shop, though it's admittedly the costliest option. As a result, some players look to third-party sellers for better deals. This is where the scammers come in.

V-Buck scammers are involved in a practice known as triangulation fraud. They use stolen cardholder info to buy V-Bucks through the official store. They then list them on a third-party site at a discount, hoping to resell them to hapless, bargain-hunting gamers.

The triangulation scam isn’t the end of the issue, though. Eventually, the individual who owns the card used to initially purchase the V-Bucks from the official site will notice the unauthorized charges. When this happens, they’ll naturally turn to their bank to resolve the issue and recoup their losses by filing a chargeback. 

Epic Games gets hit with the chargeback. In response, they delete the V-Bucks purchased by the scammer. So, in the end, the gamer who purchased the V-Bucks from the third-party site is left holding the bag when the V-Bucks they bought disappear.

What Can Victims Do?

You might consider filing chargebacks against a third-party site, but there's no surefire success with this route. Technically, you initially received your V-Bucks, even if they vanish later. Moreover, if too much time has passed before you spot the fraud, you might not even be eligible for a chargeback anymore.

To avoid falling prey to these scams, always buy V-Bucks and other in-game items directly from the developer’s official site. Double-check to make sure the website is legitimate, as scammers have become quite adept at mimicking the real thing. Using a VPN or a private browser can also help protect your data when you're online.

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Beyond these ideas, the rest comes down to avoiding scams more broadly. On that note, here are five smart moves to protect your card and personal info while gaming:

#1 Stick To Secure Payment Options

Always use payment methods with strong buyer protections, like credit cards or established online payment platforms.

#2 Set Up Transaction Alerts

Get real-time updates by signing up for email or text notifications from your bank whenever there's a charge so you can spot and report any fishy activity ASAP.

#3 Keep Everything Updated

Make sure your gaming platform and all security software are up to date. This is the best way to fend off new and developing cyber threats.

#4 Learn The Scammer’s Playbook

Educate yourself about the common tricks and tactics that scammers use. This will help you to better dodge their attempts.

#5 Guard Your Game & Personal Data

Never share your account details or personal information online. Promises of in-game bonuses or free V-Bucks aren't worth the risk.

At the end of the day, the point we’re trying to get across here is that it’s a lot easier to avoid a scam than it is to recover from one. Also, remember that chargebacks aren’t a miracle cure. You will end up waiting weeks to get your money back… if you get any back at all. Even in the best-case scenario, you eventually get your money back, but your V-Bucks are withdrawn from your account anyway. 

We said it before, and we’ll say it again: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Fortnite Chargebacks

What Can Game Developers Do?

It’s no one’s fault that scammers have begun to target Epic and other gaming sites. That doesn’t mean that the company is off the hook from public scrutiny, though.

Existing payment processes are insufficient to protect victims from today’s sophisticated, contemporary scammers. Frankly, more is needed to ensure the gaming environment is as safe as it is profitable. 

Developers and publishers like Epic can take several steps to protect customers from scams and enhance payment security, all while keeping chargebacks in check. Here's how they can pull it off:

#1 Enhanced Account Security

Implement two-factor authentication (2FA), and offer players additional security options to safeguard their accounts. This added layer of protection makes it harder for scammers to gain unauthorized access to user accounts.

#2 Anti-Fraud Monitoring

Use advanced fraud detection tools to track suspicious activities. These tools can spot unusual transactions and patterns that indicate fraud, allowing operators to step in before damage is done.

#3 Secure Payment Gateways

Partner with trusted payment processors that offer robust security features. Using encrypted gateways ensures that customer payment information stays safe by reducing the risk of data breaches.

#4 Clear Purchase Policies

Communicate refund and chargeback policies clearly to users, setting expectations and reducing confusion. When players know the rules, they're less likely to initiate unnecessary chargebacks.

#5 Educate Players About Scams

Provide information and warnings about common scams, including fake websites, phishing attempts, and underhanded third-party sellers. By keeping players informed, publishers can help players avoid traps that could lead to fraudulent transactions.

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