If you game at Neopets then you know that everyone couple of months there’s a new “proven” hack for the site. It could be something to lift passwords, replicate items, cheat at World Challenge games or sucker new players. As someone who has been an active member at the site for over eight years I take a lot of interest in knowing the latest scams, hacks, cheat and programs. Why? No, not to cheat the system but to avoid being hacked, conned, schemed, raided and taken advantage of.
If you are a regular at the Message Board then you know that there are always “I got hacked!” posts; some people will automatically say, “Neopets wasn’t hacked, your password was stolen”. Different plan of attack but same and result. If you look up phrases like “hacking neopets”, “neopet cheats” and “stealing NP” to try to cheat the system, know this – some of those sites have trojan programs that will infect your computer. Your cookies are now visible to the other party and chances are they are cleaning out your account while you are still on their webpage. A good example of this is the “How To Hack Neopets” article that is sold for five dollars and available for immediate download. In the seven page paper you are given different techniques to “hack” the site including an item replication tool. To get this you need to provide them with the name of your account and your password so they can install it from a cloaked IP address so TNT will not see it. If you provide them with that information you will get an email saying “Please do not log in to your account for thirty minutes so that we may install the program uninterrupted”. In that thirty minute time frame your bank account, Safety Deposit Box, trades, gallery and shop are going to be emptied. If you are not a Neopet player or only game there occasionally you might wonder why people go to such lengths to scam players. It’s greed mostly but some people have been busted and have had their accounts frozen and are more than a little bitter about it.
I am not condoning, endorsing or even remotely suggesting that you take part in any type of scam, hack, cheat or activity that violates the Neopets Terms of Service (TOS). This article is to help newer members, as well as the seasoned veterans who may have been gone for a while, become familiar with some of the ways that accounts are hacked, items are manipulated and the various schemes that happen at the site so that they may better protect their accounts, Neopets and prized cyber possessions.
One of the most ingenious hack-plans is one of the simplest; contacting new members to let them know that they have won a special prize, that there is a problem with their account or being so bold as to say that you are an “undercover” TNT / The Neopets Team member. New members usually aren’t going to have anything valuable in their account so why bother to try to hack them? The off chance that they are going to keep the same password for months. One of the telltale signs of this is if you do not log out of the site when you close your browser but you are asked to sign in when you return to the page. There are times when random log outs happen but it’s only happened to me three or four times in eight years. Someone could be accessing your account and seeing what you have accrued or taking what they want.
How is this something that can happen over and over? Positive reinforcement. Most of the current scams involve asking you if you want to join a guild. That is one of the ways that they can keep an eye on you and see your progress. If you win a paintbrush or get a valuable lab map piece and post about it, there’s a good chance that might not be in your Safety Deposit Box the next time you are at the site. Guarding your password and private information is a complete necessity. Never give out your password, reveal too much personal information or ‘donate’ to a guild.
Cheat Programs: These were insanely popular about five years ago and a lot of people were using them. Most of the cheats involved game progs (programs) that would play games for you. You could achieve high scores and earn trophies. Trophies displayed on your member page are not sellable but there is a reason why people want to rack up a ton of them (see “Selling Accounts” for more information). Game progs cause people to get greedy; high scores that qualify for a trophy are automatically reviewed by TNT. What are they looking for? How many times you have played the game in the past, what the average score was for you as well as others, how high the score was an if it was humanly possible to get that score.
Cheat Programs – Password Lifters: These are like cookie grabbers but often lead you away from the Neopets site. These kinds of malicious codes are hidden within the page and while they are extremely hard to embed, there are people that spend a lot of time trying to get them to work. The URL will redirect you to a site that looks almost identical to Neopets and then you will get the Neopets maintenance screen. This is when your personal information is being lifted. You could be automatically logged out of the site or taken back to Neopets. Your information is now on someone else’s computer and they can use it whenever they want. Again, if you do not log out of the site when you are done but notice that you have to log back in when you return, its time to look at your account and see if anything valuable is missing.
Cheat Programs – Item Replication: Several YouTube videos surfaced of how to replicate items; most of them involved buying higher priced items from shops when restocking. There is a lot of work and code knowledge that goes in to it but if you can get items that are worth five million points it makes it seem worthwhile. Neopets tries to stay on top of these types of scams but as soon as they crack one of them, there are three more new ones that surface.
Cheat Programs – NP Replication: Again, YouTube had a ton of NP booster videos posted as to how you could change the amount in your bank. This seemed easy to do once you bought the sidebar program; all it involved was changing the code. Greed got the best of people and they were busted shortly after going from having 30,000NP to having 500,000,000NP. I can have some great days with restocking and selling things but nothing in the same league as that.
Cheat Programs – Neopets Back Door: This is a sophisticated cheat platform. You go to a site that is supposedly a “back door” to Neopets (of course the site is not involved with Neopets in any way) and when you log in you can change your stats. Well, that’s how it is supposed to work. When you try to get in to the site after entering your information you are taken to an error screen and asked to log in again; you will get the same error screen. Why twice? They are slick, they know people are going to be skeptical about entering information so they assume most are going to try a fake name or modified password the first time. More than a few people have fallen for this. All it is doing is logging your information and before you even have a chance to go back to your account, it is hijacked.
Cheat Program – PIN Buster: Once you get someone’s account you might run in to a snag with the PIN / personal information number. This is something that can be used to safeguard removing items from a shop, withdrawing NP from the bank, removing items from a gallery or other spots on the site. It is a four digit code and if you get it wrong more than four times you are timed out from using it. A PIN Buster will keep trying common number sequences until it busts it. This can take weeks of daily runs but if it is on an aged account with a full shop or packed Safety Deposit Box it makes it seem worthwhile. The downside is that most of the PIN Buster programs have a code in them that returns the information to the download site so the account you stole or purchased (pirated account) could end up being stolen off of you.
Cheat Program – Key Logger: This is not something that is isolated to Neopets. It is something that can be downloaded and record your keystrokes for the sites you visit. That means your email passwords, Paypal information, bank accounts and other sensitive information could be at real risk. Trying to run a key logger from the site is hard, the code for it is large and not something that is easy to hide on a user lookup page, in a gallery or in a shop. Most of these are run from an offsite, a link is posted that looks like it leads to someone’s gallery or Trading Post list but it is really something that takes you to another site where your information is collected.
Selling Accounts: Selling a Neopets account is against the rules. That doesn’t stop people from doing it. What are people looking for when they are buying an account? The age of the account, trophies (Site Event Trophies, Site Feature Trophies, Game Trophies), avatars unlocked, Neopet level, events participated in, site themes, Habitarium level and the interest level you collect at every day from the Neopian Bank. People inflate and account and then sell it. There are perks to having an aged account like access to the Abandoned Attic or the one day a month reduced pricing on items at the Hidden Tower. Aged accounts are often seen as being trustworthy; the general thought on it is “No one with a year old account is going to try to scam someone”. The accounts sell for various prices depending on what you want. An account that is a year old with a Level 30 Neopet, ten game trophies, Millionaire Platinum interest level at the bank, site events, 50 unlocked trophies and a Level 50 Habitarium could sell for $50.00. That might not sound like a lot for the amount of work that is going in to it but if someone is running twenty accounts at a time, its easy money.
The more the account has in the way of stats, the higher the price. Before you start thinking about buying an account you need to face these facts: there’s no guarantee that your new account is not going to get frozen. Even if your bank interest level is at the highest amount, chances are the NP is not going to be in the bank. Your Safety Deposit Box might be empty so you are going to have to start transferring items or heavy restocking in shops. Getting an aged account might seem like the way to go but if you end up losing your account (and the real threat of an IP ban) and are out the cash you spent on it, it’s simply not worth it.
Where are accounts sold? Anywhere; selling them outright on eBay will get everyone involved with it frozen at Neopets. Underground message boards or a third party overseer is what’s mostly used. The person lists the account information (details of the account, not the account name) and what they are selling it for. This is all done with money, not NP. When an account is sold the money is transferred via PayPal and the buyer receives the name of the account, password and other information about it. It is up to the buyer to change the password and email address associated with it. Another risk with buying an account is not knowing the history of it. It could be a stolen account, one with a lot of infractions on it or something that has been frozen by TNT.
Account Buffering: According to the TOS / terms of service of Neopets, using any type of graphics to cover up parts of the website are illegal. That means using the cute lookup shields instead of the ones that are issued by Neopets to show the age of your account are subject to ticketing. Buffering is when someone uses graphics to change the appearance of their user lookup. This could be done to make it look like they have more trophies. If someone were looking to scam people but wanted it to appear that they have a aged account they could easily make a cover or overlay for their profile. There are a number of ways that this can be abused at the site including in a shop to get someone to click on something that takes them to a website outside of the Neopets realm.
Guild Scams: Guilds can be a great way to meet people, learn about site events and get advice about games. They can also be a place where innocent people get suckered in to participating in schemes and scams. There is no limit to what you can buy at the site, if you want 100,000 Fortune Cookies then so be it, buy away. When you recruit others to “mass buy” to drive up the price then it is a site offense. There are some guilds that will pick a reasonably priced item and start buying all available quantities to drive up the price. Then they will start selling them for a lower price than the Show Wizard to make a huge profit. In the past this has happened with certain books (that was also accompanied by rumors that it was going to retire soon), plushies and food items (that were rumored to be added to the Gourmet Club list or used for an avatar). Guilds are monitored so posting illegal things there will get people frozen but there are ways that people get around it.
Off Site Activity: If you become friends with someone on the site, you are going to want to think long and hard about giving them your email address, Yahoo Messenger ID or another other form of contact. To reduce the chance of being hacked, have a separate email account for your Neopets information. Off site actions are not enforceable by TNT so that leaves a lot of room for scamming, hacking and cheating. Make no mistake about it, the TNT staff spend a lot of time reading message boards and public forums where cheat programs are discussed. If they can associate a Neopets account with you and have proof that you are indeed doing something that violates the rules, you will be frozen. Why do people insist on using the same ID? So they can say “If you don’t believe me, go look at my account”. Of course they could have gone through the site and picked out a ten year old account with tons of trophies and site events so you won’t know if that info is even legit to start with.
Common sense goes a long way when it comes to avoiding Neopets scams, hacks and cheats. If someone posts “As soon as my junk is cleared from my shop I will have a 1NP sale” chances are it is never going to happen and the things that are in the shop are grossly overpriced. It’s not reportable but it is something that moderators will get irked about. Selling or buying items in the real world is a violation of the TOS but it happens all the time. Paintbrushes, Codestones, map pieces, weapons and Hidden Tower items can all be purchased if you have a PayPal account and are willing to risk it. You can also purchase NP by the million or ten million, again, it is against the rules but it happens all the time.
While there seems to be a notion that “Neopets has never been hacked”, it has happened. Being owned by Viacom puts them in a delicate position to release such information. The millions of dollars earned from virtual currency spent at Neopets, PetPet Park and Monkey Quest (as well as other Viacom owned sites) could be in jeopardy if serious hacker attacks were announced. Neopets does a good job of handling smaller situations on the fly but when there is a three day weekend or holiday the site is ripe for the picking where hackers, scammers and cheat programs are concerned. Last year there was a malicious code hidden in an advertisement at the site, it didn’t go active until the three day weekend started and then it unpacked itself and started hijacking browsers.