Harry Potter fans will soon be treated to a wide variety of new content provided by author J.K. Rowling through her website, Pottermore.com. The site, which is currently in invite-only beta mode, will serve as a portal to an expanded Harry Potter universe, with additional stories about The Boy Who Lived written by Rowling, as well as the digital storefront for never-before-released e-book versions of the Harry Potter series.
With all that Pottermore promises, it’s hard to not get excited. Unfortunately, online scammers have been taking advantage of fans’ enthusiasm by selling fake accounts to the site on eBay, reports the BBC. Online conmen have also been creating websites, which are laced with Trojan viruses and other malware, that appear in search results for Pottermore.
The Potter-centric website officially opens to the public at large in October. But some lucky fans can gain access to the site now, provided they are among the best to complete a “Magic Quill” challenge on the site. The challenges, which started on July 31, run every day, and end on Saturday, August 6.
Due to high demand — the website was overloaded with visitors at the time of this writing — scammers have been selling fake accounts for around $100 on eBay, claiming that they will register people for the site.
The Pottermore scams were first discovered by security researcher Chris Boyd, who posted the findings to his website.
The official Pottermore blog is already on top of the problem, warning users on the site to “never share personal details online unless you are certain how they will be used and protected.” The blog also asks that users “do not buy, sell or transfer Pottermore early access accounts.” To help combat misuse and scams, the site declares that it has “the right to terminate any Pottermore accounts that are sold online.”
“Access to Pottermore is, and always will be, completely free so please don’t be tempted by people selling Pottermore accounts online,” says the Pottermore blog. “You will only be wasting your money — and there are still more clues and chances to come!”
In other words, the bad news is, there is really no safe way to get early access to Pottermore by circumventing the proper channels. The good news is, swindlers won’t be able to ruin your life if you just have a little patience. So, hang in there, Potter fans. You’ll be able to get your magic fix soon enough.
Update: Shortly after this article went live, your reporter was able to gain early access to Pottermore. Now, we can’t say whether that was just dumb luck, or it really is that easy — our question was “How many chapters are in Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince? The answer is 30. We were then asked to multiply that number by 14 (which equals 420), and enter that into a URL. From there, we were shown a map, which clearly revealed the “magic quill.” Click that, and abracadabra, we were in! Point is, don’t go selling your life away to scammer. It’s not even close to worth it.