At first it looked like a dream come true. A potential games industry worker received an email from a recruiter asking him to apply for a job at Riot Games. After a brief interview that lasted several rounds via email and Discord, they got the offer. It all looked official. All of the documents bore the Riot logo and a copy of the professional job, apparently sent by someone who worked at Riot Games. Then the Riot Games human resources rep – or rather someone posing as a rep – started asking for money.
The candidate was young, new to college and unsure of the hiring protocol during the pandemic. They went through the process, providing the rep with the information he asked for: everything from banking information to direct deposit and hundreds of dollars for a “resalable” Apple iPad Pro.
When they tried to cash the refund check, that’s when they got turned down: it was all a scam. They hadn’t found a job at Riot Games, and now they only had hundreds of dollars.
“I have been turned away from a lot of jobs,” they told Playserver. “It was a lot worse.”
This applicant is not the only one affected by this recruitment scam. Polygon spoke to several people who were contacted by the scam ring, each of whom described a complex process that included multiple rounds of interviews, as well as an onboarding process and falsified contract documents. Riot Games isn’t the only game company to be spoofed; Sources told Polygon that they were contacted by crooks posing as human resources and recruiting representatives at Rockstar Games and Manticore Games, among others. But Riot Games is the studio that’s now taking action.
In a lawsuit filed in November in a California court, Riot Games is suing anonymous scammers for fraud and forgery. Riot lawyer Dan Nabel told Playserver that the trial is key to finding out more about the crooks. Finding them is the first step in holding them accountable.
“[The scam] is absolutely appalling, ”Riot’s lawyers wrote in the complaint. “Their victims are largely young, naive, and want nothing more than to work for Riot, one of the world’s most prestigious video game companies. The accused are exploiting the hopes and dreams of these individuals to steal their identities and loot their bank accounts.
The lawsuit details the scam’s setup, though the approach varies: some candidates are contacted by a recruiter, while others apply for bogus jobs listed on websites like Indeed. Potential candidates are then put in contact, via Discord, email, or other chat platform, with someone posing as Riot Games employees and HR managers. Depending on the platform, victims told Gameserver, the handles would be adjusted to appear official, like a Discord account named after a real Riot Games recruiter. Interviews would then take place with a copycat Riot employee, on the same platforms, with the scammer asking detailed questions about the candidate’s personal work experience.
Soon after targeting a candidate and passing them through a bogus interview process, the scammer will respond with a job offer, including a contract with the Riot Games logo on it, signed by a “human resources manager.” “. Applicants are then asked to transfer money for “work equipment”, which will be “refundable” via an online check that turns out to be fraudulent.
When contacted for comment by Polygon, Indeed said it was making “extraordinary efforts” to remove fraudulent job postings. “We encourage job seekers to report any suspicious job offers to us, or if they deem it necessary, to report to the police,” said a representative from Indeed. “We encourage all job seekers to consult our Guidelines for a Safe Job Search. “
Nabel told JeuxServer that Riot Games heard about the scam months ago, when a victim contacted the company after filing a police report with their local department. Other emails and support tickets arrived with similar information, so Riot began to investigate. Nabel said police departments and even federal law enforcement are not equipped to tackle these kinds of scams because they are often international in scope. It is difficult for federal law enforcement agencies to take action for the same reason. Nabel said Riot was not entirely clear on how many people were affected by the scam so far, but at least one person reached out to Riot to confirm that they had lost money to the scam. the scam. Polygon spoke to at least one other victim who sent the crooks money and five others who participated in interviews or received emails from the group.
“We are upset that people who saw Riot as the company of their dreams, even though it was just one person, were defrauded by this scam,” said Nabel. “Second, we felt the need to protect our employees who are being impersonated. “
People who have been swindled in these scams will usually not get their money back. A victim told GamesServer that the bank and police said it was too late because they had not been hacked or forced to give up the money. The United States Federal Trade Commission lists some actions victims can take immediately after a scam – including how to report it – but often the funds are already lost.
Some experts have pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic to explain the increase in this type of scam. There is a confluence of reasons for the increase: Many people are unemployed due to the pandemic and are desperate for new options. The culture of remote work is also part of it; many job seekers are newly tied to their personal devices, which sometimes lack essential security. The FTC reported in February that scam victims lost more than $ 3.3 billion in 2020, an 83% increase from 2019. People over the age of 70 tend to think about are more likely to be scammed, but the FTC said 44% of reports in 2020 were made by people between the ages of 20 and 29.
“80% or more of what fuels this problem is you don’t have a physical office to visit and say, ‘Oh, I can see the game company logo and I can see the employees walking around. Said Nabel. “When everything is done remotely, people are unfortunately more vulnerable to this kind of predatory behavior. ”