Apex Legends has been enjoying great success since its launch, with record breaking profits and player counts in its first month. There are always predatory people and groups who look to capitalize on the success of others. In this case, bogus advertisements are on YouTube, potentially tricking people into downloading malware and other scams.
The ads for “Apex Legends for Mobile” have been popping up more frequently lately. The premise sounds somewhat realistic to the unaware. Fortnite is playable on mobile. But before it was, the game also had these fake ads and copied variants in app stores. Now that Apex is out, scammers have another game to scam with using spam links. These links lead to fake webpages that download malware or encourage you to download random apps that steal information off your device.
So what can be done? It really depends. Reporting the ad always helps. Google/YouTube will ban the ad eventually, and usually the account associated with the ad. Some of the fake ads are caught by the automated filter, but others aren’t. The latter usually use fake website pages (called cloakers) and redirect links to trick the filter system. That keeps those ads around until they’re reported manually.
Some of the advertisers on Youtube collect funding to credit cards. When Google bans an advertiser’s account, they also blacklist that credit card number. Trying to use it on another account gets that account banned too. That does eliminate some of the scammers from trying again, but anyone who can get their hands on another card can go right back to putting up fake ads.
This particular ad is easy to debunk, frankly. Most of the advertisements come from a single YouTube account. Respawn Entertainment, the game’s developers, already have a YouTube channel with over 250,000 subscribers. If they do release a mobile version of Apex Legends, they’ll do it on their main account, not some random one with no subscribers.
Unfortunately, scammers will never go away. While places like Google could arguably do more to catch these scammers, players are left with a responsibility to be careful about what they click on. Don’t download some random app. Don’t click a YouTube link without checking that it’s a real website. If the URL says random gibberish but the page looks like the app store, you know it’s fake.