/ Scams

Scam watch: £800 lost on virtual gifts

We were contacted when a gaming account was used by hackers to spend £800 on in-game purchases. Here’s how it happened.

Laura got in touch with us when her daughter’s gaming account was hacked and her saved debit card details were used to spend £800 on in-game items that were immediately ‘gifted’ to other users.

The games platform claimed that it wasn’t fraud and would not refund her because the right username and password were used to access the account at the time of the transactions. The bank then said that it would not compensate Laura as she had given her daughter access to her payment details.

Leaks and data breaches

It’s likely scammers accessed the account using details leaked in a data breach. We advised Laura to get her daughter to change the password for any accounts that use the same details.

Laura can complain to her bank, as the fact her card details are stored on her account shouldn’t necessarily stop her from getting compensation. In this case her card was used without permission, so the transaction was technically unauthorised.

The Payment Services Regulations require card providers to compensate customers for money lost in unauthorised transactions. This also applies when any online account with stored payment details is hacked and used fraudulently.

However, a provider is only responsible for reimbursing victims when it didn’t effectively protect their money. It might be hard to prove this where purchases were made using a third-party platform and then given away.

Laura could also try making a chargeback claim, considering she hasn’t received anything for her money. If she’s turned down, or doesn’t get anywhere after eight weeks, she can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service – its helpline can be called on 0800 023 4567.

Have you ever had one of your accounts hacked? Were criminals then able to use your stored card details to purchase items? Let us know in the comments.

Maria says:
28 November 2021

I had fraudulent payments taken from my bank card details which I had stored on Amazon. The fraudsters bought free games a couple of times in quick succession, then got bolder and bought Amazon coins, which are non-traceable and non-refundable. Amazon contacted me by text to say there was some suspicious activity on my account and asked me to verify it was me. I told them it wasn’t me. They suggested I change my password quickly, which I did. This stopped any more money being taken. Despite Amazon notifying me of the fraudulent activity, it still took almost 6 months for me to get my money back from them!