Gameplay.net – internet scam and a case of mistaken identity?

gameplay.net ripoffreports scamRecently downloaded a ‘free’ game or app? Entered your card details to activate a ‘trial’ service? Are you now seeing strange charges on your credit card or bank account with the reference ‘WWW.GAMEPLAY.NET’?

Then you’re sadly not alone!

NetSafe has been receiving reports of strange transaction charges from internet users around the world since the start of this year all connected to the  WWW.GAMEPLAY.NET merchant account details.

We’ve taken gameplay.net scam reports from people from as far afield as Australia, Denmark, Sweden, the UK and France about credit card charges of up to $60 a month all with odd bank charges connected to a website that seems to have disappeared.

A quick check of the website whois record reveals it was registered all the way back on 1 November 1996, almost 20 years ago, but now lives behind a shady hidden registration service in San Francisco that masks the true identity of the gameplay.net owners.

UNAUTHORISED CREDIT CARD CHARGES:

15 Feb, ref 86817195 WWW.GAMEPLAY.NET T 18777173330GBR £11.95

05 Mar 99456579 WWW.GAMEPLAY.NET T18777173330GBR £11.95

These examples above are just two of the charges reported by a British internet user who found MasterCard transactions linked to gameplay.net and with no clear understanding of what they’d signed up for. If you’re seeing similar charges on your accounts please leave a comment below.

NetSafe is working with an unfortunate New Zealand based firm with a similar sounding name but absolutely no connection to this internet scam operation. Gameplay NZ has been flooded by reports of free accounts being set up by people around the world who then see strange charges on their accounts. We even issued a media release warning of the danger of using a credit card to activate a free app trial. NOTE: This genuine company sells gaming machines and has nothing to do with the charges on your account.

If you’re seeing WWW.GAMEPLAY.NET T 18777173330GBR on your UK accounts or other variations of this charge elsewhere in the world, leave us a comment below.

We intend to aggregate reports of this free app scam charge and pass the information on to merchant providers Visa and Mastercard to get this operation stopped. Leave your name, country and details of the amount you have been charged and the transaction name below. Funkplay seems to be another name connected to this operation.

What we know so far:

  • Users sign up for a free online service or app that requires a credit card to activate the trial. This may be for a game or ebook unlocker. Others have reported charges after signing up for a free movie streaming service.
  • In France, gameplay.net is charging 38,50€
  • In Denmark, people affected are being charged USD 53.95
  • In New Zealand, people have been charged $49.66 a month for a so called FREE service
  • In the UK the amount is £11.95 monthly

What you need to do now:

  1. If your credit card has been charged after installing a free app, speak with your bank about a chargeback.
  2. If your bank will not refund the charges on the basis that you agreed to the terms and conditions, we advise you close the account ASAP to stop further charges being made.
  3. You can also review and query transactions made on your account in the Google Play and Apple iTunes stores.
  4. Leave us a comment on this post with information about the charges so we can pass this information on to Visa and Mastercard.
  5. Do not contact the New Zealand company Gameplay, they are not scamming you!

We will read every comment left below so please let us know how you ended up with gameplay.net charges on your credit card account.

10 Years at NetSafe: Q & A with Lee Chisholm

NetSafe’s Operations Manager Lee Chisholm celebrated a milestone this April, clocking up 10 years service with NetSafe.

Lee recently spoke with Andrew Dickens on Newstalk ZB about the evolution of internet challenges and how widely Kiwis have adopted technology into every aspect of their lives.

Can you imagine a world without YouTube, without smartphones and always on internet connectivity? That was the New Zealand digital landscape in 2005 – read on for Lee’s thoughts on where the next decade will take us.

You’ve worked at NetSafe for 10 years, how have things changed in that time when it comes to the challenges New Zealanders face and the general internet landscape?

When I started with NetSafe, young people were on Bebo or MySpace and sharing everything with their friends. It was a competition to collect as many friends as they could and there was a tendency to not think beyond using this great technology as avidly as possible.

Our cyber safety advice to parents was for them to put the family computer (usually a bulky beige desktop) in a family area like the kitchen or dining room and to walk past it often to see what their children were doing. And to put filtering software on so the children could not enter undesirable sites.

Now of course there are more social media sites than we will ever keep up with, young people get all their entertainment online, they have multiple devices and there is a different new app gaining popularity (and losing it) every 5 minutes. Many parents feel out of touch and often unable to set digital boundaries.

When it came to cyber security and cyber crime, people bought security software to try to protect their computers from viruses and we hardly heard about scams.

In 2005, we launched a high profile ‘Warrant of Fitness’ style campaign for computers called ‘Do the Net Basics’ and a lot of that security advice is still relevant today. Back then, before the global financial crisis, NetSafe had more access to resources through partnerships and sponsorship and we could deliver materials more widely.

The world of online scams is increasingly sophisticated and the types of queries that come in to our call centre are both fascinating and disturbing. People are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to scams and we know that NetSafe only sees the tip of the iceberg.

In 2014 you delivered 90 face to face presentations around the country to almost 4000 people. Do New Zealanders share common concerns about the internet no matter where you visit?

Yes, there is a great deal of similarity, though some of the concerns have changed over the last 10 years.

Schools continue to grapple with cyberbullying and online abuse that often happens out of school and continues in school. Encouraging parental involvement in educating children about online responsibilities is not easy.

Some of this comes from an age and use divide, some from the easy babysitting aspect of devices. Schools also worry about digital literacy in terms of students learning to evaluate the information they receive online.

Many people struggle to keep up with the ever-changing technological landscape and the idea that their devices also need protecting in the same way as traditional computers.

Parents almost always have privacy concerns – their children sharing too much information and creating a possibly adverse digital ‘tattoo’ or footprint. They worry about time management issues and ‘addiction’ and the easy access to inappropriate content.

I believe that young people have become more resilient and aware of risks, although often they may choose to take risks that their parents would rather they avoided.

Older people are often very surprised by the creativity of scammers and disappointed and frustrated to find there are limited resources to deal with the majority of online issues. They talk about needing to adopt an untrusting approach to everything online.

What do you enjoy the most about working at NetSafe? 

I enjoy helping people – even when we can’t always deliver a positive resolution. We can at least explain some of the complexities of the online space and the difficulty of investigating online activities especially when people believe they’ve been a victim of internet crime.

I have had the opportunity to learn from many other organisations and people, attending conferences and workshops on various issues. I am ever grateful for the trust and flexibility offered at NetSafe – we’re a small team and my work has evolved more times than I can count and given me the opportunity to learn and keep learning. 

What life skills or previous job experience helps in your day-to-day role?

I have a counseling and mediation background and an interest in child protection so I like talking and communicating with people.

As I now have grandchildren, I bring some understanding of the challenges of 21st Century parenting and my learning at NetSafe translates this to the online space.

‘Txt bullying’ was another campaign that NetSafe launched in 2005. Is this still an issue for people? Has the growth of anonymous apps changed the safety equation for parents and young people?

Text bullying is less of an issue for young people, but online bullying in many forms is unfortunately rife. Anonymity has changed bullying, but the results of bullying can still be the same. It is the constant connectedness that has changed the equation I think.

Young people are engaged in the important developmental task of becoming socialised and autonomous people and they do this in the context of their peers – this hasn’t changed. The need to be as connected as possible has always been front of mind for young people, but they were not able to be as connected as they are now. This reliance on connection brings challenges like dealing with unpleasantness, harassment and abuse.

I grew up in a different environment where even living in the central city we were able to wander the neighbourhood, go into “town”, disappear down to the creek at a very young age.

Now the equivalent freedom is found online with different types of decision-making skills needed. An example we often encounter would be “Do I send a nude photo because lots of my peers are doing it?” At NetSafe, we know that many times this can lead to heartbreak or serious distress.

Use of the internet has grown enormously over the last decade with new online services and opportunities to share and connect being widely adopted. Do you think technology has had a positive influence on young people’s lives since 2005?

I think undoubtedly positive, despite these new challenges that young people can face.

I love that we can find information instantly and have it visually presented. I love that young people can learn, research and teach themselves to follow their interests.  This can be a challenge for parents, but how marvelous to be able to follow your passion and have access to an entire world of resources.

Celebrating 10 years of keeping the net safe and secure!

netsafe-team-2015NetSafe’s Operations Manager Lee Chisholm celebrates a milestone this week, clocking up 10 years service with us.

Lee started work at NetSafe in April 2005 – the week before YouTube was ‘born’! – when only one in three Kiwi households had a broadband internet connection and only 6% of people could go online via their mobile phone.

Over the last 10 years, New Zealanders have rapidly made the internet part of their daily lives. The average home internet connection is now 200 times faster than it was in 2005 and most families are using multiple devices to access online services 24/7.

The ubiquity of internet access and cheap smartphones for all – it’s believed 4 out of 5 Kiwis now have one – has even lead to the concept of FoMO or Fear of Missing Out.

A network for learning

NetSafe receives the majority of its funding from the Ministry of Education and the technology landscape in New Zealand schools has also changed enormously over the last 10 years.

In 2005, all schools had an internet connection but 1 in 4 were using dial-up and only 5% of schools used a handheld device or tablet as part of lesson delivery.

Many students now bring their own device to school or use a school owned tablet in classes. With the average school internet connection now 2000 times faster, students have access to unparalleled learning opportunities.

2005 – 2015: How digital challenges have evolved

To mark Lee’s lengthy service at NetSafe, we’ll be publishing a Q&A style interview with her next week.

This Sunday, Lee will be on Newstalk ZB’s morning show at 10am to discuss this decade of rapid technological change and the impact that widespread internet adoption has had on New Zealanders.

View the image below to discover just how far we’ve come since 2005 – from a single beige box in most homes to a whole new world of connectivity. Here’s to Lee’s second decade at NetSafe as we welcome the era of the Internet of Things!

Internet-Adoption-in-New-Zealand-2005-to-2015
Click to view full size: Internet Adoption in New Zealand, 2005 to 2015

Safer Internet Day partners work to combat rising internet harms in New Zealand

New Zealand kicks off Safer Internet Day 2015 - 10th February
New Zealand kicks off Safer Internet Day 2015 – 10th February

19 organisations are joining forces to mark 2015’s Safer Internet Day (10th February 2015) in New Zealand as Kiwis report an increasing array of internet harms.

Safer Internet Day is celebrated worldwide to encourage the safe and positive use of the internet and digital technologies, especially among families and young people. New Zealand’s Safer Internet Day is being coordinated by NetSafe, the online safety and security organisation.

In 2015, 19 organisations that work with Kiwi internet users across the country are coming together to celebrate the day, promoting digital safety and security messages to customers, staff and stakeholders. The full list of supporting organisations can be viewed online and are included below.

“Safer Internet Day is about pausing to celebrate the positive work that is going on every day all around New Zealand. This global initiative highlights how creating a safer internet is a shared responsibility and we’re pleased to have so many organisations supporting the event in New Zealand,” said Martin Cocker, NetSafe’s Executive Director.

Digital Challenges Report

To mark Safer Internet Day, NetSafe has published a report on the full range of online challenges that New Zealanders faced in 2014 (PDF). The report can be downloaded from http://www.netsafe.org.nz/safer-internet-day/.

The Auckland-based non-profit handled over 8000 incidents in 2014 and recorded almost $8m lost to a wide variety of online scams and computer security issues. The report also looks at other harms that Kiwi internet users can suffer including the emotional impact of online harassment and bullying and privacy concerns around the loss of data and identity information.

Highlights from the report include:

  • More than one in ten of the incidents that NetSafe handled in 2014 involved bullying or online harassment and reports were received from young people and adults alike;
  • NetSafe recorded over 1000 privacy related reports during the year;
  • The average financial loss reached $9300 and more than 30 losses greater than $50,000 were recorded.

NZ Partners working towards a safer internet

Examples of activities that participants have planned for Safer Internet Day 2015 include:

Education sector:

Ministry of Education
The Ministry of Education is promoting Safer Internet Day on its websites

The Online Safety Advisory Group
This cross-sector group is releasing guidance for schools on how to prevent and respond to incidents involving digital technology including mobile phones. This will published on NetSafe and Ministry of Education websites.

CORE Education
CORE Education has developed a resource that will help teachers focus their professional conversations about internet safety. CORE is also planning to use their web channels to promote this and other resources across their educator networks.

Post Primary Teachers’ Association
The PPTA has developed resources designed to support teachers model positive online behaviours and the teaching of digital citizenship concepts. These will be made available to its 17,000 members.

Enabling e-Learning
The Enabling e-Learning website is an information hub for teachers developing the use of digital technology in the classroom. The Enabling e-Learning team are delivering a range of different professional development activities for teachers to mark SID 2015. Enabling e-Learning is managed by CORE Education on behalf of the Ministry of Education.

New Zealand Catholic Education Office
The NZCEO is marking the day by writing to all 244 of New Zealand’s Catholic schools to highlight key messages about online safety.

Network for Learning
N4L are writing a themed blog post which will look at issues related to content filtering.

Te Toi Tupu
Te Toi Tupu provides professional development to schools across New Zealand about using digital technology for learning. For SID 2015 they have planned a special focus on internet safety issues for schools including online professional discussions about issues schools are managing. Te Toi Tupu will be promoting SID 2015 via its website and social media.

Industry:

Google
Google NZ is launching a phishing awareness initiative asking users if they can spot the tell-tale signs of an online scam.

Trade Me
Trade Me will be using a special SID 2015 Kevin the Kiwi logo for the day that connects members back to the Safer Internet Day website.

Vodafone
Vodafone is bringing The Parenting Place in to their offices to provide training for staff.

Facebook
Facebook is promoting the day through its New Zealand pages.

Twitter
Twitter will be promoting the day by amplifying tweets related to Safer Internet Day (@netsafeNZ #SID2015))

Co-operative Bank
Co-operative Bank will be encouraging customers and staff to do a ‘sense check’ on how they use digital banking technology to keep their money and their personal information safe.

Other government agencies:

Department of Internal Affairs
The RealMe programme will be promoting the day on their website, via social media and to all DIA staff.

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – Connect Smart
The Connect Smart programme will be promoting the day to its partners and on its website.

NZ Police
Police are developing a sample cybersafety intervention plan that schools can use to support their work.

Office of the Children’s Commissioner
The Children’s Commissioner is promoting discussion about SID 2015 and internet safety issues throughout the day.

2015 Safer Internet Day Supporters:

  • Co-operative Bank
  • CORE Education
  • Department of Internal Affairs – RealMe programme
  • Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet – Connect Smart programme
  • Enabling e-Learning programme
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Ministry of Education
  • NetSafe
  • Network for Learning (N4L)
  • NZ Police
  • NZ Catholic Education Office
  • NZ Principals’ Federation
  • Office of the Children’s Commissioner
  • Post Primary Teachers’ Association
  • Te Toi Tupu
  • Trade Me
  • Twitter
  • Vodafone

NetSafe warns New Zealand charity websites are being targeted by credit card fraudsters

NetSafe is warning New Zealand charities taking online donations to be on the alert after receiving two reports this week of cyber criminals launching automated attacks that attempt to validate large numbers of stolen credit cards.

In the first incident, almost 50,000 attempts were made to rapidly submit fake donations through a website form with the aim being to test which credit cards could be used for subsequent online fraud or sold on to other internet scammers.

More than 2000 successful donations were made resulting in the charity having to enlist the help of their bank and merchant account provider to refund the fraudulent payments. They also spent time dealing with enquiries from cardholders around the world questioning the transactions.

A second incident yesterday saw another charity website hit with 11,000 payment requests resulting in more than 250 donations to their bank account.

In both cases, the automated attacks had been launched from a Brazilian IP address and NetSafe is encouraging charities and other small businesses that take payments online to take steps to secure their websites and contact their bank or payment provider about ways to prevent online fraud.

Online fraud a global problem

“Credit card fraud is an ongoing issue for any organisation that takes payments over the internet,” said NetSafe’s Digital Project Manager Chris Hails.

“The American security company PhishLabs warned that charity websites were being targeted by cyber criminals to validate stolen cards in November last year[1] and they believe that these smaller organisations have fewer internet defenses in place than larger retailers and are thus an easy target.”

“Being the target of such an attack can mean hours of staff time cleaning up afterwards and could potentially cost your organisation money or find you blocked from taking future donations online,” said Hails.

The warning comes just a week after New Zealand’s Banking Ombudsman predicted that complaints to her office about scams would increase in 2015[2]. Auckland-based NetSafe recorded more than 8000 incidents in 2014 including a wide range of cyber security issues ranging from phishing attempts to ransomware.

Protect your business online

NetSafe offers the following advice for charities and website owners:

  • Talk to your bank or merchant provider about how their payment systems can be used to protect against online fraud
    Enquire about options for monitoring payments and blocking such large scale automated attacks. If you can, consider using third party card verification services from Visa and MasterCard to add a second layer of protection.
  • Talk to your website developer, IT staff or a security specialist about ways to protect your site and any payment forms you host
    Using SSL to encrypt information submitted is essential so that forms operate at an https:// address. Discuss testing your systems for signs of common vulnerabilities and your options for fixing them.
  • Use a CAPTCHA on your web form or require an account be created
    Technical solutions like these can potentially slow down automated software ‘bots’ that are designed to validate card numbers in quick succession.
  • Limit transaction volumes or website sessions by IP address or pre-screen payments from high risk countries if you are seeing fraudulent attempts to donate
    Many New Zealand charities may only wish to accept donations from Kiwis using credit cards issued by NZ banks. Ask if you can filter payments by Bank Identification Number (BIN) to prevent overseas cards being accepted.
  • Consider monitoring traffic volumes to your website
    Talk with your website host about establishing an alerts services so that you’re aware if you receive a sudden unexpected spike in visitors.
  • Investigate using a specialist online fraud management service
    Sift Science offer an online service to assess transactions before handing them on to your merchant provider and may be an additional way to reduce fake donations.
  • Weigh up the benefits of outsourcing your online donation process
    Explore options from third parties with secure systems and dedicated resources to manage fraud such as PayPal or Givealittle. Givealittle.co.nz allows NZ charities and schools to register for a free fundraising page.

“Monitoring any payments received is an important way to detect fraud on your website. Be on the lookout for a series of small donations for odd values or random amounts. Real people tend to donate whole dollars – $20 rather than $4.73,” said Hails.

If your website has been targeted by credit card fraudsters speak with your bank or merchant provider. You can also contact NetSafe via their freephone telephone number 0508 NETSAFE or report an incident online at www.theorb.org.nz.

Notes:

[1] Cybercriminals abuse charities to verify stolen credit card data

[2] Scam-related bank complaints on the upBanking Ombudsman

Advice and guidance for dealing with digital challenges