Reports began surfacing this week that users of the online gaming service from Microsoft for the Xbox console were finding charges on their credit or debit cards for Microsoft Points, the currency used within the service. The purchases were for Microsoft Points, which allow Xbox Live users to buy extra games, add-ons and in-game items. It is thought the Microsoft Points that were obtained fraudulently had been used to buy extra content for a number of EA Sports games including FIFA 12, Madden and NBA.
This has lead to speculation that the tech giant had suffered at the hands of hackers, in the same way Sony did earlier this year, when the account details of 77 million users of the PlayStation Network were obtained by cybercriminals.
However, Microsoft has denied this is the case and has instead blamed a phishing scam.
"In this case, a number of Xbox Live members appear to have recently been victim of malicious 'phishing' scams (i.e. online attempts to acquire personal information such as passwords, user names and credit card details by purporting to be a legitimate company or person)," Microsoft said.
"The online safety of Xbox Live members remains of the utmost importance, which is why we consistently take measures to protect Xbox Live against ever-changing threats."
One of the phishing scams that could be behind the hack, saw Xbox Live users receiving an email directing them to a website offering free Microsoft Points. Victims of the scam entered their account details in a bid to 'receive' the free points, which allowed the hackers to access their accounts.
According to The Sun, gamers in 35 countries have been affected by the hack. In the UK, gamers have lost an average of £100 through fraudulent purchases of Microsoft Points, although the newspaper estimates that some have lost as much as £200.