Counter-Strike: Global Offensive skin scammers have found a new way to bring attention to their sites within Steam. As noted on the Steam subreddit, bot accounts are now using the review system as free advertising.
Yesterday, a post on the subreddit from user Troglodyte722 said that “now they’re abusing the review system to advertise their abysmal scams.” A screenshot attached to that post showed a positive review under clicker game Adventure Capitalist, the text of which featured little more than a url and promises of “free CS:GO skins.” The review, which was posted yesterday, now appears to have been taken down, but bots helped drive more than 400 ‘helpful’ commendations to the post.
The issue doesn’t appear to be limited to just one game. Another post on the subreddit shows a nearly identical review under Payday 2, again with more than 400 commendations. Curators seem to have cottoned on to the scheme, as that review also appears to have been removed from the game’s store page.
As pointed out in a third post, however, the number of commendations that these posts receive in such a short period of time can help boost them beyond the review page. Another screenshot shows an almost identical review from last week that eventually populated the front page of CS:GO’s entry on the store.
This workaround is scammers’ latest attempt to advertise their sites after Valve changed the terms of the Steam Workshop. Previously, mod pages had been used as advertising space, but last month, Valve changed the system for CS:GO, Dota 2, and Team Fortress 2. Now, all new submissions for those games require moderator approval, temporarily putting a stop to the wave of scams that had affected the modding community around Valve’s games.
Steam users have suggested that the increased prominence of the review system – and the fact that it can be applied to the game of the scammer’s choosing – means the new approach might be even more damaging. The removal of the reviews in question suggests that Valve is aware of the issue, but there’s been no word on an official response thus far.