I bought Minecraft many years ago, back when it was still a beta. Last weekend I woke up to two interesting emails in my Inbox:
I was reading this on my phone, so I leapt out of bed and to the laptop. There were two emails, one telling me my Mojang account password had been changed, followed by someone changing my email address to a ‘yandex.ru’ address. The email change message had a link in it to dispute the change, so I pressed it (after confirming that these emails were indeed from Mojang.com and that the link went to that domain). It went to an ‘Invalid Token’ page, so clearly that part of their system was broken. The other email did have a reset password link in it though, so I tapped that and changed my password. This logged me into my account, but whoever had taken it had added their own secret challenge questions, which I didn’t know the answers to.
“Awesome, I love a challenge” I thought to myself as I started researching what bands were popular in Russia and what people named their pets. After 30 minutes of trying that though, I was beginning to doubt my l33t hacking skillz. My next resort was to try and find a computer that I’d logged into the account with before, that should skip straight past those questions and into my account. I knew time was ticking, because like me the hacker would have gotten an email telling them the password had been reset. I could only think of one computer that I might have played on and still owned, and I’d loaned it to my Co-Founder Philip. So I sheepishly messaged him to see if he could try and log in for me. By the time he tried, it was too late, the hacker had already changed the password.
At this point, I knew I was defeated, so I emailed Mojang support for help. I quickly found out that their support people were about 2 weeks behind on emails though. Now I was annoyed. I didn’t even play Minecraft anymore, but someone had stolen MY account, MY identity and I pictured them laughing at me all the way from Russia. A small, ever present switch inside me flipped. I couldn’t be defeated that easily, so I swung into action. I had the hackers email account, so the first thing I did was email them telling them that they’d won this round, but I’d win the war. I didn’t expect a response, so I went back to trying to get into the hackers email account.
Naturally I was a bit surprised when 5 minutes later a direct response from my new nemesis turned up:
What are you talking about? And the fact that I have been your username and password from the minecraft?
So I bought this login and password on the site! This yours? I did not know, he said that an empty account given. So I bought it. Here skrinoshot purchase:
If this is your account Sorry = (
I do not know what to sell hacked accounts
Ha ha, please, pleading innocence, the oldest trick in the book! But there was an image attached:
There in plain text was my email address and password. I was shocked and also slightly embarrassed that I’d chosen such a short and easy to crack password. I was also a bit skeptical that he’d bought my account for $18USD when you can get one from Mojang themselves for $26USD. So we started to email back and forth. At first he kept pleading his innocence, but after chatting for a while he confessed that he knew he was buying someone’s account. He assumed that these were accounts people no longer needed and he’d be able to save $8USD. I keep saying ‘he’ because I also learnt that he was a 17 year old male living in Russia. At this point I think I went from being angry to intrigued. I wanted to find out more about him and the site he’d bought it off.
It was there that things got a bit strange, Alex, my sort of new Internet friend was starting to suspect that I was the suspicious type who didn’t believe his story, so he sent me the login for his personal email account. I laughed to myself “could this kid be that stupid?!”, but there it was. I signed in and saw his purchase confirmations as well as all the emails he’d received from Mojang as he changed the password, email address and added security questions. He’d also chosen a rather cool username for himself. Suddenly I was faced with a choice: I could easily reset everything back to me, and lock him out completely. He had after all knowingly bought someone else’s account and must have known there was some risk involved. But the dad part of me felt sorry for this kid. He clearly just wanted to play Minecraft and was doing whatever he could to get there. We kept emailing back and forth (30 emails in total) and he was clearly regretful that he was about to lose access to his new Minecraft account (my old one) and that there wasn’t much he could do. He also seemed to have learnt his lesson.
I went from being bewildered and angry, to curious, to finally being fascinated by this world of buying other people’s accounts online from sellers that were offering thousands of them at a time (site link, only for the brave). I had also learnt a lot about this 17 year old kid on the other side of the world and his apparent love for Minecraft and playing online. In the end, I changed everything back to being owned by me and locked him out. He was going to lose it all anyway when Mojang finally got around to answering my email, and he knew that. I had won. I’d gotten my account back!
It was a hollow victory though, unsatisfying and entirely unglamorous. Another switch flipped inside me, I went to Mojang’s site and bought the kid his own Minecraft account. It was probably the wrong thing to do, it probably makes me a gullible fool, but I’d like to believe that somewhere out there, a 17 year old kid is playing Minecraft. He’s happy, he’s building things with his friends and he has a lasting memory of a weird Westerner he met while stealing his account. A Westerner that even though he didn’t have to, bought him a replacement account that he enjoyed for many years. In truth he’s probably blowing stuff up while tea-bagging his crazy online friends and laughing at how stupid I am, but, let an old guy dream, ok?