I had been thinking long and hard about what to do for a blog for April 1st but I couldn’t think of anything constructive. I thought about claiming to rage quit WOW but I factored in that I may lose too many readers before I could post the retraction (what is a prank without some time). So I opted not to do that…instead I went with a subtle route. I posted my favorite prank for the year and decided to blog about something that isn’t a joke; it isn’t funny in any way…gold selling & the consequences.
I have suggested this as a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic to help raise awareness that when you buy gold…the gold doesn’t come from thin air. It comes from players just like you; it could come from your significant other, your guild mate, your best friend, your raid group…anyone.
To illustrate the severity of gold buying, I want to share with you some of my very own experiences with hackers and compromised accounts. Maybe it will make you think twice before buying into the scams. I share with you now the story of three friends; victimized at different times by a variety of experienced hackers…all of whom were devastated by the experience.
Yes, I am sad to say that I have been a victim. My boyfriend and I were sitting in our office, playing online like we always do together (we’re not discussing how lame we are here). Typically we have some internet problems and lag at the same time. It is no big deal, it tells us that it is just the internet. But one night it was very different. Rather than lagging into a D/C, I was immediately disconnected and recieved an email (on the gmail notifier) that my World of Warcraft account password had been changed. I was immediately disturbed and went to log back in. My password didn’t work. I got more emails stating of password changes and my boyfriend (again, he was in the same room) saw me come back online.
Tarinae…Aralas…Chakae…Yukami…Corelon…whoever had my account was cycling through my characters one by one. I had full GM access to 3 guild banks (one being <Age of the Phoenix>) and lots of gear that I had been saving to level other characters as this was the time before BOAs. After cycling through and getting everything of value from my personal and guild banks, the hacker logged back into Tarinae. By this point, Paul (my boyfriend) had a ticket open with capped keywords like “ACCOUNT BEING HACKED RIGHT NOW! NEED HELP!” He decided to try to talk to the hacker, to stall them. Most people who try to talk to hackers get nothing back other than an AFK notice; but not me. The hacker started to talk to Paul and other guild mates that were talking to him. He begin to hang around Undercity taunting my friends, offering them the password (Anecdote: he had a bot changing the password roughly every 30 seconds til lock-out) if they would pay him an ungodly amount of gold none of us had.
He held my account hostage as I sat there and watched for almost two hours. But my story has a happy ending you see. The GM responded to Paul’s ticket in a quick manner and was able to ping the IP of the hacker in question…he got caught. He had been had by his own pride; he even took the time to tell them all good-bye. I was able to reset the password and log on to find that my characters still had the gear they were wearing but banks were empty and I only had 12g to my name. I hear horror stories about character/gear restoration but I got everything back but about 900g I believe. He took that money from the guild bank so I doubt it was registered on my income but I can’t be for sure I didn’t get it back either. I was lucky…I had a horrific situation with a happy ending. But the stories get worse from here…
Other stories behind the cut…
Meala is an officer in <Age of the Phoenix>, I met him in an run through Zul Farrak and it blossomed into a great relationship with him and his wife. I have met them in real life and have intentions to have them in my wedding, these are great people. Knowing them for as long as I have, I know they always respond to whispers and don’t usually play at 4AM on a Thursday morning, yet there he was. He refused to respond to tells and even though it would say [Meala] has went offline, there he was, online & accepting tells. After a while of contemplation, they were going to be traveling to see us that day 3 hours away…there is no way they would be online at this point. I spammed his phone and capped open a ticket…Meala was being hacked. This was a VERY experienced and skilled hacker.
Upon realization of what was happening, I went to the guild bank. Even as an officer, his withdrawals are limited. This hacker completely manipulated the guild systems and withdrew almost EVERY item on EVERY tab that was in the guild bank. The only thing left was money. We saw that he was in the Storm Peaks now and Paul went on the hunt to find him. The search revealed that the hacker was using Meala as a farm tool. They had implemented a speed hack into the game and were farming herbs to sell in order to fill their order.
His characters were stripped naked with nothing but the herbs left to his name. It took a while for such a mass restoration to go through and in the mean time, he leveled a new character to 80 and got mildly geared before Meala had clothes again. He now blogs over at Bear Bomb (see Blogroll) and Meala is an after thought to this new character he found he loved. We got a full guild bank restoration as well. I am unsure if his hacker was ever caught but his horrific story had a happy ending too; he re-developed a new love for wow and his tank bear. But the other story…doesn’t have such a happy ending.
This is a tragic story for my youngest nephew. He had realized he had been hacked after he received an email about account suspension. He was able to log on and he found that someone had created an orc rogue on an empty character slot. He found that all his gear except PVP gear had been deleted,his other toons stripped, and again, no money to his name. His hacker used every available withdrawal from the guild bank that each of his toons had but that was the extent of the damage there. To prevent further disruption, he removed all of his characters from <Age of the Phoenix>. This was the best thing he could have done because even though he changed his password, the hacker came back…
I saw that Allexant was online and was not speaking to anyone. He was online AFK when I left for work and was online AFK when I came home from work. I called him up on the phone and asked if he was playing and in fact he was not. He attempted to log on to the account only to find that AN AUTHENTICATOR had been added to the account. I had opened a ticket for him recently and had the number to Blizzard Billing. He called the next day (it was already after closing) and had the situation handled. He worked with them to remove the authenticator and change both the email and password attached to the account. He ran virus scans that revealed nothing. He thought he was good to go.
He logged on to see that my assumptions about farming had been correct. The hacker had farmed somewhere close to 500 saronite stacks and 100 or so titanium from WG & IC and had dumped them into his personal guild bank. He thought he could be rich coming out of this…only to find the next day that the hacker was back with another authenticator. Something was definitly amiss. Blizzard was constantly busy this time and he hadn’t shared his new information. The hacker was on the account 24 hours a day for almost 4 whole days. After a while, Allexant was directed to a high powered virus scan to find out that there were several trojans hot linking him to another computer. He was able to delete the connection and remove the virus scans from the computer. I do not know yet if he has regained control of the account or not but he is trying.
There is no happy ending to this story but there is a moral…virus protection is very important but as hackers become more sophisticated, obviously the situation becomes more and more dangerous. If you buy gold, please remember the plight of these three players. We are doing all we can to keep our computers safe but even with the man-in-the-middle attack with authenticators, things are still going wrong and your acts are hurting your fellow players. Remember that when you buy gold, it comes from somewhereone.