Pop-up ads are annoying; in-game ads are no better, but when in-game ads are pop-up ads, they can create a lot of mischief. Last week a Chinese gamer in Sichuan province was scammed by a pop-up ad within a popular online racing game.
The victim, surnamed Li, works in the garment industry in a small town in Sichuan. According to an article by Southern Daily, Li spends his downtime playing the popular online kart racing game, QQ Kart Racing. On the evening of May 5, Li logged onto QQ Kart Racing and proceeded to getting his game on. During that time, he was hit with a very legitimate-looking pop-up that looked it was part of the game. The message on the pop-up read that Li had won second place in a random internet contest.
Ecstatic that he won something, Li clicked the pop-up it bought him to an "official" looking website where he filled out a form with his personal information. After submitting the form, Li was informed by the website that he had won an iPhone 4s valued at $9437, but in order to receive his prize he needed mail insurance and taxes.
At this point, Li didn't feel that anything was fishy. It's common to pay taxes on prizes with monetary values in China (I've had my own award money taxed). He proceeded to call customer service to find out exactly how much money he needed to front up before he could receive his new iPhone — he needed to front up $704.
Only able to come up with $244, Li called the company. He was informed that if he didn't pay up in time, he would lose his prize. Unable to come up with all that cash, Li turned to borrowing money from family. According to the article, when Li's uncle learned why he needed the money he immediately took him to the nearest public security bureau. Li had been scammed.
It's unknown if Li will ever get his money back or if the company running the scam will get in any trouble but I can't really fault Li for his naiveté. How was he to know an iPhone 4s isn't worth $9000?
[玩网游中“大奖” 先交保险和税费] [People's Daily]
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