Although still relatively unknown in the West, Naver Company’s Line is by far the most popular messaging application in Japan right now, with millions of active users. But when an app comes to be embraced by so many people, it’s often only a matter of time before someone with too much time on their hands decides to spoil the fun for everyone by hacking users’ accounts in an effort to make money.
Cases of Line accounts being taken over have been on the rise since May this year, with many people claiming to have received messages from both anonymous users and those already in their contact list, asking them to purchase pre-paid WebMoney cards and send a photo of the card’s number over to them so that they can claim it.
Thankfully, most Line users are bright enough to recognise a scam when they see it, and know exactly how to respond…
First, let’s take a look at a typical message sent out from a hacked Line account:
“Are you busy?” the message begins, “Can you help me out?” The user (or more likely program) then waits for a response from the legitimate Line user before asking, “Could you buy a pre-paid WebMoney card from a nearby convenience store for me?”
WebMoney Transfer allows users all over the globe to send and receive funds, charging an online account without needing to link a credit card or bank account to it. It has become increasingly popular in Japan in recent years, and pre-paid cards can be bought from most convenience stores in amounts of up to 20,000 yen, or US$197. Thanks to the largely anonymous nature of the service, though, fraudsters are now posing as Line users’ friends and, in much the same way as in past “ore-ore” telephone scams, attempting to trick them into buying the cards and sending the claim codes over so that they can access the cash.
Some of course fall for the trick, but others see this as a perfect opportunity to play with the would-be fraudsters.
▼ When asked how long it would take for them to buy and send over the WebMoney code, this user responded with “three years,” and the perfect Line stamp
Here’s a look at some first-class trolling from Line users who weren’t about to be duped into sending a stranger their hard-earned money.
1. Say my name, b*tch!
After being told “I’ll pay you back tomorrow,” this Line user replies with a simple request to the scamming stranger: “Say my name. Like how you’d call me.”
2. So how about that local sports team?
This user opted to interrupt the talk of WebMoney cards with talk of the World Cup, bemoaning Japan’s recent loss.
3. What did the five fingers say to the face?
This gentlemen responded to the request to buy a WebMoney card by using “stamps”, the tiny pictures Line is famous for.
4. How ’bout I send THIS over instead?
“It’s OK if I stick this in, right? Oh, sorry, wrong pic!” replies one man sending a revealing photo.
5. I never knew you cared…
After being told “I Love you”, this Line user decided to crank the romance up a notch, asking when they could go on a date.
6. Pop quiz, hot-shot!
Finally, this user asked the hacker to play a multiple-choice quiz, asking nonsensical questions about the their housemate’s hobby:
Sadly, not everyone is as street-smart as these folks, and reports suggest that several people have already been cheated out of significant sums of money to date.
If you have reason to believe that your Line account has been hacked, head over to this dedicated site and let Naver know ASAP. The rest of you? Now might be a good time to take a photo of the most revolting thing you can find with which to reply to any unsolicited requests to buy prepaid cards.