Point stealing bots and trolls: how can I tell the difference?
November 3, 2012 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Malware steals bonus points from rightful winners. True or False? My SO has been harassed and de-be-friended on Facebook for stealong bonus points. She didn't do it. Or did she?

Someone amid the circle of my SO's (RedBud) friends on Facebook claims to have a program that can tell if any given user is stealing bonus points accrued in a game on Playdom, called Gardens of Time. My SO has enjoyed this game over the past few months, and is linked to her mother, sister, some grandkids, and so on.

Recently a member of her (geometrically expanding) circle of friends has been sending her and her contacts nasty, nasty notes about some sort of malware that a person can pick up by clicking on a "United" (no other info) link.

SO wouldn't steal a coin off the devil's eyes, so I know she's not doing it on purpose. We are unable to find out what this progam's name is, or any other info about a bonus point (or coin) scam. She has a MAC, so I can't figure out how to ask it if there's a trojan or other type of malware on her computer.

Q 1: Has anyone in the Metamind ever heard of this scam?
Q 2: Do you know the name of the program that steals bonus points, so that I can ask her search engine to see if it's installed on her machine?

I suspect that the person who's doing this is a troll, on account of how the messages evolved. She claims to have a "Screen Shot" of RedBud's computer as it steals points, but she won't send it. She's de-linked from RedBud, so we can't ask her any further questions.
posted by mule98J to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
As a guy who does infosec for a living, this sounds like a whole lot of BS. Ignore the complainer and move along. Screenshot of your SOs computer? Look, if there was evidence, it would be a network trace showing an IP address and some web traffic, not a screenshot.

Do these bonus points cost money? If so, rest assured the game producers are monitoring for cheating.

Also, your SO does have antivirus installed, right? If not, do so.
posted by bfranklin at 12:52 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have never heard of this and it sounds like your SO's former friend is a loon. Your SO is better off without someone like that as a friend.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:53 PM on November 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

She claims to have a "Screen Shot" of RedBud's computer as it steals points, but she won't send it

Has she had physical access to your SO's computer? If not, she's 99.999% guaranteed to be full of shit.
posted by desjardins at 1:09 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

There's a good chance your SO isn't the only person this crazy has yelled at. Chances are everyone else knows this person is insane from their own, personal interactions with her. I would just ignore her and continue playing as usual.
posted by sbutler at 1:13 PM on November 3, 2012

This is classic paranoid behaviour. I suspect mental illness rather than deliberate trolling.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 1:14 PM on November 3, 2012

Looks like the game is glitch-ridden and a gold/point/crystal sink, or at least it was at the beginning of the year. That probably accounts for some of the problems.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:16 PM on November 3, 2012

Malware doesn't care about "points". It cares about information useful either to market to you or to become you.
posted by pla at 2:49 PM on November 3, 2012

Response by poster: Many Thanks to the hive mind. Your responses all seem to confirm my suspicions. We were unable to find anything that supported the "troll's" rants. I can't imagine a gain to be had from stealing these points, since they only have cyber-worth in the Gardens of Time.

Now I can get back to Sim City in peace. I'm gonna bulldoze a harbor, because those little bastards don't like my tax hikes, and won't keep a balanced budget.
posted by mule98J at 4:16 PM on November 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would respond with a very concerned I would hate to have any malware that steals points; please send me more information about how to scan for it and get rid of it. If the person has information, verify it, and maybe learn something, and if not, ignore them.
posted by theora55 at 4:24 PM on November 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

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