EA blames support staff for recent hacks of high-profile FIFA accounts

American video game company Electronic Arts confirmed today that hackers used social engineering to trick some of its customer support staff into transferring high-profile FIFA accounts from their legitimate owners.

"At this time, we estimate that less than 50 accounts have been taken over using this method," EA said today.

"We are currently working to identify rightful account owners to restore access to their accounts and the content within, and players affected should expect a response from our team shortly," the game maker added.

According to screenshots shared on social media by some of the victims, the hacks took place after the attackers contacted EA's customer staff via the live chat feature and demanded to have an account's email address changed.

While many requests were ignored, the threat actors persisted until a customer support staff member ignored normal procedures and changed the email address without additional verifications of the requester's identity.

The game maker said that as a result of these hacks, it has taken the decision to put all its customer support staff through a re-training program "with a specific emphasis on account security practices and the phishing techniques used in this particular instance."

In addition, EA said it is expanding its account ownership verification process, which will from now on require approval from a team manager before any email address change.

"While in some cases these changes could impact customer experience wait times, these are necessary additional steps to ensure our player accounts remain secure," the game maker said.

EA said it began investigating the incidents last week. According to Eurogamer, whose first report on the hacks triggered the EA investigation, the threat actors appear to have targeted the top 100 traders in FIFA 22, EA's soccer simulator, and one of its most profitable video game.

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Catalin Cimpanu

Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.