Social Networking Games Scam Players

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It turns out that well known, and often trusted, games like Farmville, Mobsters and Mafia Wars actually often make money through what amounts to a kind of competent sleight of hand, scamming their own users.

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While we’ve long wondered just how games set up on social networking platforms make enough money to make the investment in development time worthwhile, the folks over at TechCrunch have a very interesting look at just how some of these apps manage to eke the most out of every user… in the words of TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, “Those that scam the most, win.”

Of course, it’s clear that there are honest Facebook apps out there, but there’s a certain difficulty in actually figuring out which apps are nasty and which aren’t. It’s certainly not the case that not all users are being scammed by these kinds of unscrupulous apps, but there wouldn’t be so big a market for scamming via apps if some users didn’t fall for it.

The example that TechCrunch gives is of an app offering in-game currency or bonuses to users who take the time to fill out an IQ test. While you’d imagine that the company could sell the results of an actual quiz to market research firms (which seems like a fairly valid revenue stream) instead, users are apparently asked for their phone number to confirm details… those users are then signed up to a $9.99 a month “service.”

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but given the fact that we’re living in a world where social media-based apps are seeing so much positive coverage (with many seeming to believe it’s the next big platform), it’s interesting to see someone come out against the negative practices.

For now, TechCrunch notes that while it did ask one of the alleged prime offenders, Offerpal, the response was to basically rubbish the whole argument in the most colourful of language.

Anyone at all interested would do well to check out the TechCrunch post on social media scams. It’s interesting, to say the least.

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