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Elite Dangerous Scammers Leave You Trapped And Penniless

Picture yourself as a pilot exploring the Milky Way Galaxy in a new game you've recently installed. It's called Elite Dangerous, an epic first-person space-flight simulator and MMORPG with a massive procedurally-generated sandbox for you to explore. Like many other new pilots, you're still getting your bearings, learning how to play and learning what you can do. After all, the game is so massive that very few people have completed it. And then along comes a more seasoned player who promises to help you build a new ship, train you on how to mine a rare form of asteroid, and even give you a free ride to go find them. All you need to do is give them your money.

If you thought this was a scam, you'd be correct. Except these players don't want your money, they want you.

The team at Frontier Developments, the game's publisher and developer, issued a "Pilots Federation ALERT" on Monday, Feb. 8. The alert warned new pilots that "kidnappers" are operating in mobile bases known as "fleet carriers" around the HR 6828 system and that gamers should avoid "untrustworthy offers."

"These involve the owners of Drake-class fleet carriers enticing a pilot to outfit their ship for mining operations, before docking with the larger vessel. It then makes a series of jumps, to a distant star system over 800 light years away, taking the docked ship with it," the post reads. Afterwards, players are told to help mine materials to help pay the fleet carrier. Because they've been taken so far beyond the range of their starting ship, these newbies are "effectively marooned" and forced to do labor for these unscrupulous veteran players.

According to Polygon, scammers are using common tricks to get the newcomers to mine "void opals" in remote parts of the galaxy and are then having them sold back at one-sixth of the price. The number of players who have been duped is unclear, but Polygon estimates it's "at least a dozen — likely more." So far, the issue has only been reported for Xbox One players, Polygon reported.

When asked by Polygon reporter Charlie Hall if they would continue to kidnap unsuspecting newbies, the perpetrators appeared to double down. "Not only will I keep doing it I'm going to step it up a notch ... I along with my cohorts are going to build the greatest noob army this game has ever seen," they said.

Players aren't entirely helpless, however. They can opt to self-destruct, in which case they'll have to start the game all over again. A spokesperson for Frontier Developments told Polygon that the team is keeping an eye on the situation, but that no official action has been taken.

Elite Dangerous has been going strong since 2014 with regular patches, including a 2019 update to make the game more beginner-friendly. Elite Dangerous was scheduled for its Odyssey expansion this year, although that has been delayed, Frontier said in a statement last month