This past month has been quite the transitional period in the Tapped Out community. One of the most popular blogs dedicated to this game was taken over by someone who leveraged the popularity of the site, as well as the trust its followers had to sell people on what turned out to be a huge scam. During this time, GameZino made thousands of dollars by hacking into their customers games to deliver massive quantities of in-game cash, donuts, tickets, and items no longer available in the game.
Who cares? That is the attitude many of the people who gave money to GameZino share. They got everything they wanted in the game for a reasonable price. Even though prior to this there were places online where you could have had anything hacked into your game for free, it doesn’t matter. The cost was considerably less than anything the game has ever legitimately offered.
Rationalizing Robin Hood
The blanket statement that Electronic Arts is a multi-billion dollar company has been used to justify the unscrupulous activities that have taken place in recent weeks. While this is true, it doesn’t justify paying a third-party solely because the prices of in-app content higher than you think they should be. These third-party services like to perpetuate the narrative that companies like EA are huge evil conglomerates, and by taking money out of their hands you’re really showing them what for. After all, why you should pay the people who made the game and continue to add content to game, when you can line the pockets of someone abusing a hack who has contributed nothing to the development of the game?
Truthfully, all you would be doing by supporting these scams is hurting the game as a whole. Businesses correlate sales data with interest in the product. If these third-party services continue, and sales data decreases, the game publisher can assume people are losing interest in the game and it is no longer profitable to add new content to game if the ends no longer justify the means.
While you may not have known GameZino was a scam, and you didn’t hack the game yourself, you are still responsible for your account. Should Electronic Arts choose to, they could ban the accounts of anyone who is found to have hacked content into their game. Additionally it would be very easy to see if someone acquired limited-time items long after they became unattainable through regular game play. Any money you spent on your game would not be refunded, because you violated the Terms of Service you agreed to when signing-up for Origin.
Getting everything you wanted out of the game by simply tossing a few dollars in a some hackers PayPal account may just prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. All of the time and money you have invested into building your town could be lost at a moments notice if you are guilty of hacking the game, or allowing others to hack the game for you.
In a previous post information uncovering the truth about GameZino was posted in an attempt to make people more aware of the situation. To summarize, GameZino was using an illegal game hack to offer donuts, items, and cash to users willing to pay for their service. The way in which they were able to expand their business was by taking control of TSTO Tips and promoting their service as “legitimate” by posing as the original site owner, Mr T.
By leveraging the reputation of a person many people trusted, GameZino was able to scam thousands of customers into using their service. While it appears as though they have been delivering what they promised to customers, no content was ever purchased through the game. The reason users had to provide their account information and passwords (never a good idea) was so they could log-in and hack the items into the game. The story they perpetuated of buying gift cards in bulk was merely a cover for their scheme.
Now GameZino is no longer accepting orders, which they claim is because their business model is no longer viable, and no it’s not because they ran out of gift cards. There are a few possible reasons the site is closing down.
a) The hack no longer works. Development on the once freely available hack stopped once GameZino started using it for profit. Those who developed the hack, for fear of legal repercussions themselves shut down the development of the hack as well as areas online where discussion about the hack took place.
b) Once people realized GameZino was a scam, they disputed their claims with PayPal. It is likely a sizable percentage of people filed claims against GameZino for fraud and/or misrepresentation leading PayPal to block their account. If GameZino can no longer get paid, they have no reason to continue their service.
These are two of the most likely scenarios, but one thing is for certain, nothing about GameZino was ever legitimate.
Update: A new site called GameGull has appeared in the wake of GameZino’s closure. It should go without saying not to trust this site, or any other that offers suspicious workarounds and discounts to in-app purchases. The only way to legitimately purchase in-app content is directly through the game itself. In the event you have been a victim of these scams, there are steps you can take to report the fraud to PayPal.
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.
Visiting other users towns is an important element of the game. If you would like to make some new friends, post your user name here. When you visit a friend’s town you can tap up to three buildings, earning yourself some money and XP. You can even visit your friend’s Krustyland to earn some additional tickets and XP as well.
Sometimes there are content updates that focus on the social aspect of the game, the last of which being the Whacking Day event from a few months ago. So build up your friends list now so when the next event is announced you’ll have a whole bunch of friends to help you reach your goal. Don’t worry if your town isn’t perfect either, as the state of things are always a work-in-progress.
As many of you may know, the popular blog TSTO Tips has been compromised. The site is now under the control of GameZino, a third-party company that is advertising a cheaper way to purchase donuts than through the game directly. In a typical case of “too good to be true”, this offer sadly is.
First off, the latest post advertising this amazing deal on donuts was written by an imposter. The former owner and administrator of the site was known for his moral stand against cheating. So when a post promoting this amazing deal was published under his user name, many took it on good faith that since it was endorsed by a trustworthy source, it must be legitimate. Any comments that suggested otherwise were deleted, further amplifying the appearance of credibility, as all of the comments were skewed to be overwhelmingly positive.
Furthermore, GameZino was offering the ability for users to purchase items from previous holiday events, something impossible to do without a hack. A YouTube video tried to explain how this was possible, but once you take into account the devices shown were jailbroken and running hacked copies of the game, the truth reveals itself.
It should set off an automatic red flag in your mind anytime someone requires you give up your account information and password, which GameZino was doing, but sadly for many the offer was too good to pass up. Once people found out they were being duped and scammed, they felt used and embarrassed. Disappointingly enough, this well-crafted scam not only earned this unscrupulous company thousands of dollars, but it also effectively killed on one of the most popular blogs dedicated to this game on the web.
If you were a victim of this scam you should take whatever steps necessary to protect your account. If you gave up a password you use for more than just this game, you’re going to want to change that password on any other associated accounts, or else GameZino may be able to access a lot more than just your Origin account.
While donuts may be expensive, the only legitimate way you’re going to get them for a better price is if EA is running a sale, which is usually denoted by an in-game appearance from Gil.
The friends page of the game has been completely revamped. Now at a glance you can see just how far along your friends are in the game. Not only can you tell how developed their Springfield is, but now you can see who has started building the Springfield Squidport as well as Krustyland. Additionally if you tap the Krustyland part of the map, you’ll be taken directly to your friend’s Krustyland, without having to find the Krustyland Shuttle in their town.
You can also use this feature to help prune your friend list. If you see a higher level player who hasn’t even started the Squidport yet, there is a good chance they aren’t actively playing the game anymore. Since you are only allowed a certain number of friends, you may want to make room for more active players.
Check below the break to see some examples of the different stages of construction.