Recently we’ve seen a number of strange Facebook app pages promoting what claimed to be “San Andreas Multiplayer”. This of course refers to the still popular San Andreas incarnation of the Grand Theft Auto series.
When the game first launched on PC in 2005, people wanted to play GTA: SA with others, but the core game didn’t ship with that functionality. As a result, a mod was created that allowed gamers to take part in all the multiplayer action they could handle, as long as they were running the original version of the game – the more recent, digital download version of the game available on Direct2Drive and Steam aren’t compatible with the mod, which would make an easy to run version highly popular with gamers (if such a thing existed).
No surprise, then, that someone out there would want to take advantage of this multiplayer bloodlust and make what claimed to be a straightforward, “plug in and play” Facebook app that did all that pesky behind the scenes nonsense for you. Don’t have an old version of the game? Doesn’t matter, here’s an app!
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In reality, what you see above is simply a looped .swf animation that recycles gamers talking in an online session (the multi-coloured text behind the multiplayer start box) complete with the ambient noise of the city in the background.
Clicking the Start button will bring up the standard app install prompt if logged into Facebook:
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“This app will receive your basic info and your email address”.
The end-user will also be asked if they want to invite their friends to “play”.
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Of course, it doesn’t matter how many of these you send out – you will never, ever get to play GTA San Andreas multiplayer by installing the app above or any of the others still floating around. The game itself is roughly 5gb in size, and there’s no way someone is going to crunch that down into a comparatively tiny Facebook app with multiplayer thrown in for good measure. Indeed, what serves as the “Official” Facebook page for the GTA Multiplayer mod is posting up notices that the above Facebook app is nothing to do with the mod whatsoever.
Elsewhere, a blog promoting the game contains a link to a URL that seems to be related to a “Facebook auto-liker” posted to a number of forums recently. The site linked in the GTA spamblog code is already offline, but given how popular the GTA multiplayer mod is I’m not even sure such a thing would be necessary.
Grand Theft Auto has always been an attractive proposition for scammers with the time and inclination to concoct a sufficiently elaborate fakeout – it’s not that long ago we saw OpFake sending out expensive SMS messages thanks to a phony GTA Android game, and way back in 2007 there was the frankly hilarious looking “GTA mod” that looked like it walked in off the set of an Atari 2600 revival. If a new (official) GTA San Andreas multiplayer app wandered onto Facebook, you can bet there’d be some mention of it on the official GTA SA page. As things stand, the last update there was 2010 and it’s highly unlikely that Rockstar are going to release such a thing anytime soon.
Popular gaming franchises remain a hot target for scammers, and Facebook users should be cautious when given the chance to install applications related to their favourite titles. Take this opportunity to visit your Application Controls page and ensure nothing is waiting in the wings to perform a drive-by, 187 style, on your personal information.
Christopher Boyd (thanks to Adam for additional information)
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