That's because cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the huge swell of interest and excitement over Pottermore, the interactive virtual world gearing up for its official October launch. Overeager fans have allowed themselves to be subject to such risks as trojans, nefarious search engine hijinks, and fraudulent beta accounts.
Created by J. K. Rowling herself (in conjunction with Sony), the website is the interactive online equivalent of a 'directors cut' of the Harry Potter novels. "Pottermore will be the place where fans of any age can share, participate in, and rediscover the stories," said Rowling in an announcement made on June 23rd. "It will also be the exclusive place to purchase digital audio books and, for the first time, e-books of the Harry Potter series." In addition, there will be a sizable user-generated content area and social networking component -- in other words, fans will be able to submit their own stories and artwork, and chat with each other.
However, October is still too far away for many, and some are jumping at the chance to get an early start. The highly-coveted beta memberships and sneak peeks -- such as those awarded to the winners of the “Magic Quill Contest” that ended on Saturday -- are an especially tasty prize for Potter fans.
"Early access accounts" have been available on eBay and other sites; in addition to being "expressly prohibited in The Magical Quill promotion Terms & Conditions" (according to the official Pottermore FAQ), it is also ripe for fraud. While eBay will protect bidders and buyers to a certain extent, it is by no means a guarantee -- and there are a number of less secure and protected sites on which such 'deals' are offered. Even if a user gets lucky (i.e., gets early access to the free website by paying $100 or more), they could still find themselves officially denied because the site asserts "the right to terminate any Pottermore accounts that are sold online."
The "free" ways to get supposed beta access are even more suspect. These include offers to pre-register (just give them your personal info) and links on sites like YouTube (with a helpful "Pottermore -- Beta access -- I Got In!" video to show fans exactly how to make themselves a target for the scam). The cybercriminals have even set up poisoned Google search results, with seemingly viable pages full of redirected links.
After clicking on one of any of these kinds of links, users should count themselves lucky if they simply wind up with nothing. More likely, they'll be asked for some personal information -- either as part of a borderline-legitimate marketing scheme or a wholly shady phishing scam. In the worst (and not at all unusual) case, the link will get the user a download full of good old-fashioned malware such as the classic "PC/ Mac Defender" type.
Well, I guess the moral to this story is to not be dumb. But I guess you already knew that or you'd be trying to register at Twimore.com. If you didn't get in on early registration, I know there some ONTDers with extra accounts that would probably happily give them away. And we're not sketchy or mean, so I would definitely try that route if you really really want the opportunity for a beta code.
I also just wanted to post this as kind of a place where people cane post if they get welcome e-mails? I haven't received anything yet but I definitely want to know when e-mails start being sent out.
Sorry mods, but this was important:
ETA- This post is dedicated to sexi_squidward for all their hard work during Pottermore early registration week!