The online game Scrabble Go has been the target of ‘creepy men’ that use the platform to defraud women.
They use the chat functionality to begin conversations with the women to gain trust and feign affection with the intention of moving the conversation onto more regular chat platforms such as WhatsApp.
From there, the scammers are more able to target the women, pretending to be from several parts of the world to commit fraud.
Hundreds of women have spoken online about these interactions, with one who spoke to the BBC saying that when a conversation begins: “It’s almost like a script.”
She said: “They start with, ‘How you doing?’ They match you to start a game, then start messaging.
“They play very badly, so you win the game. And then they big you up. Regularly, they say, ‘I just want to check, can’t we be friends?’
“When you say, ‘No,’ some of them disappear, they resign from the game. If you do not reply at all, most of them resign from the game.”
Scrabble Go developer Scopely says that the functionality could be turned off in the future.
The company said in a statement that it: “does not tolerate any harassment or misconduct” and encouraged players to report incidents to the firm.
A spokeswoman added: “In Scrabble Go, players are able to access mute and block functions within the chat feature, as well as the ‘mute public chat’ privacy setting.
“When enabled, players will only receive chat notifications and messages from players they already know and are connected with as a Facebook friend, favourite, or via their synced contacts.”
The app is currently available to download on the Apple and Google Play stores. It has functionality that allows players to connect through Facebook and other social media platforms with people around the world.
The game simulates scrabble to play with friends, family, and strangers online. It was released in March 2020 and currently has around 2.5 million players.
Lisa Forte, partner and cyber threat specialist at Red Goat Cyber, told the BBC: “As individuals, we really need to start treating unsolicited online contact with people we don’t know as suspicious until it’s proven otherwise.”