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Banned

07 Nov

Having left WAR behind, our little instance group took a straw poll to decide where we would point our collective efforts.  After some thoughtful discussion, the easy and obvious answer was to return to WoW.  Of all the options available to us, it was really the only immediate choice that would satisfy our collective time budget constraints and uber casual play style.  No big surprise really, but it was necessary to ask the questions.

Having stayed out of WoW pretty much since the WAR headstart got rolling, I hadn’t really done much other than take down the big patch at some point, but that was about it.  So now that WAR was no longer on the horizon, I saw I had my hunter in the low 60s and Lich King coming up (not that I was really looking forward to it all that much).

Nonetheless, the hunter was close enough to 70 to make a go of it which would provide a bit of an interim goal.  I logged on last Friday and respecced (because of the recent talent point refunds) and headed off to Zangarmarsh to get to work.  I managed to ding a level or two Friday evening and got almost all the way to 64 on Sunday morning when I got disconnected.

No worries, I thought.  There seems to be some latency/disconnect problems of late.  So it was a bit of a shocker when I tried to log back in and found my acccount had been BANNED.

Straight to Stormwind Stockades for You

Straight to Stormwind Stockades for You

Gulp. No warning, no email, just logged on one minute, then disconnected the next.

I tried and failed to log in again several times then I hit the web.  A few minutes later I received an opaque form email from Blizzard:

***Notice of Account Closure***

This is a notification regarding the World of Warcraft account XXXXXXXX. Access to this account has been permanently disabled for exploitation of the World of Warcraft economy or for being associated to accounts which have been closed for intended exploitation. While we try to be as lenient as possible in our assessments of the results of exploitation investigations, exploitative endeavors on your accounts have ultimately lead to their closure. The recurring subscription on the account has been disabled to prevent further charges.

Huh?  “Exploitation of the economy”?

I wracked my brain what could have been the trigger, but came up empty.  I use a few addons that are probably the most popular ones used by tens if not hundreds of thousands of players via Curse Gaming– auctioneer, quest helper, some button bar mods, nothing that interesting.  Certainly nothing that would single me out from many many others.

I hadn’t been on in a while, but I had all my stuff, so it didn’t occur to me that my log in might have been compromised, but Wilhelm and Mrs. P checked the guild status and all of my alts had all last logged on about 10 days prior to the ban and on a weekend.

Curious.  I don’t remember doing that.  Likewise, I still have toons and a defunct guild on another server, so Mrs. P logged in there– same story.  All my toons had logged on that same weekend.  Very curious.

Our best guess was that the account must have been compromised and having very little wealth, used the account as either a chat spammer or a mule for gold delivery.

After surfing around and reading lots of Blizzard horror stories about these no warning bans, I was not encouraged.  You have to deal with them only through email, and it would likely take several days for them to reply, if at all.

Still, I didn’t have much to say other than “Hey, WTF?  I’ve had this account for 4 years and I don’t do anything bad, what gives?”  Four years.  Ouch.

That’s when it started to sink it a bit.  Four of us have been playing together almost since release and the five of us in the instance group for just over two years.  If this didn’t get resolved, that would be pretty much it for that era.

I don’t have it in me to powerlevel a new toon to 70 nor reward Blizzard for their unwarranted action on my account.

Blizz is notorious for not giving any explanation of any reasons for these bans.  I just held my breath hoping that they might actually reply and I’d have a chance to make my case based on what little I had gathered.

About a day and a half later I receive:

Greetings,

Please review this entire message, as it contains important instructions about the security of your account. We have reset the password to the World of Warcraft account XXXXXXXX. Please note:

Account Administration is not involved in the restoration of missing characters and/or items due to the account being compromised, and is unable to provide updates on investigation status.

· If you reported losses via an in-game petition, an account investigator will contact you as soon as possible with news of any restoration.

· Please note that it can take an extended amount of time for the investigation to be completed;

· If you do not receive correspondence from a Character Specialist or Investigator within two weeks, please submit an in-game petition for further assistance.

· Please use the new password that has been sent to your registered e-mail address to log into the game client first. After you have successfully logged into the World of Warcraft, you may proceed to the Account Management page to set the password as you choose.

That’s it.

I dutifully did every possible scan I could think of for keyloggers and such, updated my virus and firewall (which was updated anyway), deleted all my addons and everything else I could think of before I reset the password.

A complete mystery.  At least I knew that I didn’t have to worry about my stuff.  I was logged in when I got the boot and everything was fine.  I was able to get on last night and everything was normal as far as I could tell.

A complete mystery and a scary little reminder of my own virtual mortality (not to mention a little too revealing look at Blizzard’s account management).  All’s well that ends well, or so I hope.  But I’ll still be looking over my shoulder for the next few weeks.

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16 Comments

Posted by on November 7, 2008 in World of Warcraft

 

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16 responses to “Banned

  1. JoBildo

    November 7, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Yikes… you just made me realize I need to change my PW, even though I’m not actively subbed. I’d hate to go back one day to play my Hunter and find him nekkid, or worse… gone.

    Glad it worked out in the end, and good luck hitting 70 before next Thursday!

     
  2. p@tsh@t

    November 7, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Thanks Jobildo. Might be tinfoil hat stuff, but Mrs. P came across some rumors that gold farmers collect these stealth accounts and somehow are aware of a period of inactivity which is when they do their stuff.

    No idea if its true, but I was inactive for maybe 3 weeks while I was playing WAR almost exclusively and that’s about when it seems to have started. Ten days after that, banhammer.

    Go check that account and if guilded, look at the guild status to see when your toons were last on.

     
  3. Hudson

    November 7, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Yup this happened to my dad, and he lost an account with 5 70’s. He JUST got it back recently and they restored it down to the copper.

     
  4. L1H

    November 7, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    This post almost gave me a panic attack!

    I’ve never had any internet security problems, but your situation reminds me that I might be comfortably ‘numb’ about my accounts. Do you think it was a key-logger that snuck into your system via an ad-on? How do you know that the ‘mole’ is gone?! Those sons-a-bitches-gold-spammers! Are you concerned about using your computer for online purchases, etc … if you already know that it’s been compromised before? Are you going to do a fresh install???? I’m so thankful it all worked out /phew!

     
  5. Gaff

    November 7, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    What about the obvious, there Potshot? Why would Blizzard have banned you if you weren’t guilty? Perhaps your a bit too innocent. Innocent people make me suspicious. You obviously have something to hide…and your tinfoil hat won’t save you. BTW, don’t email me anything until you get a new machine. :)

     
  6. p@tsh@t

    November 7, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    @L1H: I don’t know the mole is gone 100% for sure. I did use several popular anti spyware packages to scrub my system, though thats no guarantee either. From what I read, my experience isn’t too different than many– i.e. many don’t ever find a mole if one actually existed.

    @Gaff: :P Story of my life. Overly compliant. Definitely breeds suspicion. Mrs. P reminds me to drive 27mph in a 25 zone so as not to be suspicious… I’m sure Blizz and Warden’s statistical analysis popped me right out. No one could be that clean without cheating somehow! Shut him down. lol.

     
  7. Melf_Himself

    November 7, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    It actually sounds like you got your account back pretty easily.

    I mean, what happens when they ban a real gold seller’s account? Do they just have to email Blizzard and get their password reset? No wonder they have such a gold seller problem…

    Glad you got your account back though ;)

     
  8. ombeve

    November 10, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Had the same happen to me. I was suspicious about it as it affected my logon to Eve slightly, some keyb errors if I recall. Check for unusual processes running at startup (dunno how clued up you are about PCs?), and to be on the safe side, just reformat and fresh install… I know it’s a massive PITA, but at least then you can be sure.

     
  9. yashimii

    November 10, 2008 at 4:18 am

    That’s the reason I got myself one of those annoying little one-time-password generators. My account is as old as the game and while I am not always playing I want to be able to get back into the game without being worried about getting hacked. I’ve seen at least 4 or 5 friends get hacked …

     
  10. smakendahed

    November 10, 2008 at 5:35 am

    Interesting. Did you have the Curse client installed? Are you using the same user name and password on it as you are for WoW? Do you use your user name and password for WoW on any other site? Have you ever shared your user name and password?

    Not that I’m blaming the Curse client, but it is one of the only apps that tends to run while WoW is going…

     
  11. p@tsh@t

    November 10, 2008 at 9:31 am

    A reformat may be in my future. Its about time, but it such a pain.

    @Smaken: Curse client was installed. Different log in information. I use a variety of combinations of usernames and pwds typically. Never shared my account info with anyone.

    Also, I had only had the curse client installed for less than a day. I had been updating addons Saturday morning and got fed up with the hassle, so I installed curse. I can’t imagine that Blizz could possibly react that quickly. And having played Saturday morning and late evening and then logging on to check things Sunday morning, there wasn’t really much time for anyone else to have logged into the account (based on guild status “last online” times).

    No, I give the Curse client the pass on this one. That said, I’m running completely stock for a while just to be sure.

     
  12. Relmstein

    November 10, 2008 at 11:36 am

    Yeah I would try the Blizzard account authenticator. It’s pretty cheap.

     
  13. Saylah

    November 11, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Actually had that happen to one of our accounts. It had been inactive but sub’d for a long time. We logged on it one day and got a ban notice. Since it only had an abandoned 60 warrior on it I never pursued the issue.

     

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