In a stern advisory issued by the anti-cybercrime department of the Philippine national police force, citizens were cautioned about the rising threat of “cryptocurrency gaming schemes” and play-to-earn games. The department’s notice emphasized the prevalence of scams within this niche, citing the lack of compliance with crucial standards like anti-money laundering as a major risk factor for potential fraud.
Highlighting a specific case of deception, the statement detailed instances where unsuspecting victims were enticed by fraudulent “custom-created gaming apps” promising enticing rewards. Perpetrators of these schemes, often referred to as confidence tricksters, meticulously build trust with their targets over time in online interactions. Subsequently, they direct the victims to participate in online games purportedly offering cryptocurrency rewards for routine gaming activities.
The seemingly alluring rewards showcased within these games often turn out to be fraudulent, and the funds that players invest to enhance their in-game characters become vulnerable to theft. The modus operandi involves the deployment of covertly activated malware, which becomes active when the victim joins the game, leading to unauthorized withdrawals from the player’s account.
Notably, the cautionary advisory also brought attention to a specific instance involving Axie Infinity, a play-to-earn game that gained substantial popularity. Although Axie Infinity itself is not implicated as a scam, the advisory highlighted that its business model remains susceptible to the volatile market forces affecting the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Interestingly, the advisory harked back to a significant incident last year, underscoring the financial devastation faced by Filipino players who ventured into cryptocurrency gaming for income generation. At one point, the Philippines was estimated to contribute to approximately 40% of the game’s total player base.
Axie Infinity, a notable example within the play-to-earn genre, faced a substantial setback in March with a major security breach. Hackers managed to pilfer a staggering $622 million worth of user funds, exploiting vulnerabilities in the blockchain infrastructure connecting the game’s sidechain Ronin and the Ethereum mainnet.
As the cryptocurrency gaming landscape continues to evolve, the warning issued by the Philippine anti-cybercrime department serves as a vital reminder for citizens to exercise utmost caution and due diligence before engaging in such ventures, in order to safeguard their assets and financial well-being.