On Tuesday, August 6th the popular blog TSTO Tips published an article endorsing the third-party service GameZino. This service claims to legally purchase iTunes gift cards in bulk for deep discounts, which are then used to purchased in-app content. This information has since been proven false. First of all, iTunes gift cards are not available anywhere for discounts as significant as GameZino has led its customers to believe. Secondly, the items they are offering correspond with a well-known hack for the game, that prior to these events could easily be obtained online.
What makes this story even more interesting is that the post endorsing GameZino on TSTO Tips was not written by the owner of the site Tony Campbell (aka Mr T) it was written by Allen Cox, the owner of GameZino.
According to e-mail conversations between Mr. Campbell and Mike Schuman (aka Mike S.), a former contributor to TSTO Tips, there was indeed a deal reached which transferred control of the site TSTO Tips to Allen Cox of GameZino. This deal locked all other contributors out of the site, outside of Mr. Cox, who went on to use the popularity of the blog to promote his own service. This is at the very least a violation of terms of service for the game, and is at most illegal.
Once users became aware that this was indeed a scam, they sought to seek retribution by filing a claim on PayPal. Some users have been successful in this endeavor, while others have not. For those who have managed to get their money refunded, I encourage you to share your story as it may help others.
It should be noted that GameZino appeared to honor the items purchased by users, but it was done through an illegal hack of the game. Hopefully Electronic Arts will pursue legal action against GameZino and shut the site down. Until then the best thing you can do is avoid both TSTO Tips and GameZino until these matters are resolved. GameZino plans to expand their service to other mobile games, which not only threatens the security of customers, but the ability for these games to generate income.