With internet-literacy rates improving all the time you'd hope that the majority of the millions of scams out there rarely prove successful. Everyone should know not to give their bank and other personal information to that one Nigerian prince who wants to deposit millions into their account, right?
Unfortunately, it seems that a good number of people still attempt to download "a mobile version" of Grand Theft Auto 5 to their Android phones with an APK, or an iOS version, as crazy as that may sound.
At this point it's probably a good idea to confirm: there is no mobile version of GTA 5. The game is available on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4 only. There is no way you can play it on your cell phone, tablet or other mobile device.
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Search terms related to mobile versions of Rockstar's latest major release are numerous, and only so many of those searches can be attributed to bots. Thing is, it's pretty easy to find out just how popular these searches are, and the kinds of folks who create internet scams base their deeds on such data.
Where there are popular search terms, there will always be scams. You'd be surprised how many sites advertise downloadable copies of GTA 5 for Android systems as an APK, the platform's standard application format. The sheer number of such sites also indicate that there is a sizeable demographic which falls for this con.
The reason this trap works so well is rooted in the success of GTA Online. The game has become highly popular among mainstream audiences and is attracting new players by the droves. The side effect of such a wide reach in terms of customers is that, inevitably, people who aren't as well-versed in the pitfalls of the internet have their interest piqued, and are at greater risk.
The immense popularity of GTA 5, and the hype leading up to the game's release, resulted in these scams not only being more common but also more successful. With popularity, GTA 5 related search terms began scoring really well and hordes of new players swarmed. Scammers took advantage of this and churned out as many fake sites as possible to cash in on the fame.
Children, primarily, are easy targets here. In spite of the game's restricted age rating, GTA 5 has become increasingly popular among younger players. When kids see or hear about GTA 5 from their friends, obviously they become interested, and you can hardly expect a ten-year-old to do enough research into a game so as to learn exactly what platforms it's available on, before being enticed by a flashing download button on a (comparatively) well-disguised scam site.
Many of these websites offering free downloads of GTA 5, either for your PC, Android or iOS, the latter two being platforms on which the game has never been released for obvious reasons, are made to fool people who aren't tech-savvy enough to know not to trust sites like that anyway. Of course, those of us who are more familiar with the pitfalls of the internet would call them for what they are, but we're not the intended victims in the first place.
Obviously, the first key to avoiding scams is not trusting any download sites which offer the game for platforms that GTA 5 hasn't actually been released on. The official platforms the game is available for are the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC. If you see an offer for a mobile version or for Android, then the download will straddle you with more malware than a spam email about hot singles in your area.
Many unsuspecting would-be victims are convinced by so much as a semblance of professionalism. The scammers need only drop terms like APK, which is the standard Android file extension for applications, and they've bagged the victims.
Another pretty easy way to spot a scam is when the game is being offered for free. Rockstar Games has never held a promotion where GTA 5 was available for free, and as a commercial product, it isn't available for free. Downloading the game after purchasing it through official channels is possible, but never free.
Giveaways are a mixed bag of legitimacy and should be scrutinized before entering, especially if any personal information is required. Free stuff is always enticing, so fake giveaways are very often used for phishing purposes.
Unfortunately, even jumping in with your mind set on purchasing a legitimate copy of the game can also lead to shady sources and scams. With the rise of digital distribution, gamers often go on the hunt for the best deal and low prices often win out over security. This most often leads to third party key resellers (like G2A), which are a nightmare of legal issues and consumer protection.
When it comes to digital distribution, the safest bet is to stick to the big names. Go for official console manufacturer webstores, the Rockstar Warehouse or Steam. Other, less safe and legal sources include the popular, yet harmful, G2A. It came under fire recently for selling stolen game keys on multiple occasions, resulting in developers not seeing so much as a penny from those sales. "Buyer protection" on such sites also costs extra, even though it's largely ineffective, and very often you can fall into the problem of paying for a key you'll never get.
These scams most often will leave victims laden with malware, keyloggers or other tasty little viruses. In recent years, ransomware has become increasingly common and these scams are a prime way of experiencing the inconvenience of getting your files taken hostage. Ransomware makes files on your computer inaccessible unless you pay a certain amount. The ransom always increases periodically until time runs out, at which point the files will be deleted or locked permanently. WannaCry was a recent (May 2017) example of this.
Preying on the unknowing and vulnerable is a typical trait of these scammers, and hopefully some wayward people about to walk into such a trap happen upon this article first.