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SEOUL — Power leveling is the process of hiring a commercial company to put an online computer game character through the paces to gain strength and money — necessities for staying “alive” in the gaming world.

After you pay a fee and provide your account information, including password and game account name, a team of professional gamers plays your character.

The companies promise to keep all transactions confidential and communication with other characters limited to the minimum necessary to play the game so they’re not discovered — because the practice is in direct violation of the “World of Warcraft” user agreement.

They also admit that game account theft is a threat.

An online statement on LeLeLink.com, a power-leveling service, addresses the issue.

“Although we do need your game account name and password to perform our service, we do not ask for further account and personal information that would be necessary to take full control of a game account,” according to the site. “Since you alone retain this vital information, your account is fully secure.”

A group of South Korea-based U.S. soldiers told Stars and Stripes that they recently lost their “World of Warcraft” accounts after using LeLeLink.

“World of Warcraft” creator Blizzard Entertainment declined interview requests and directed queries to their online statement:

“These services could quite feasibly try to sell off a user’s items if they receive login information, and we have seen many services that people thought ‘reputable’ wind up stealing customers’ information and all their items,” according to the Blizzard Web site. “These businesses make their money by helping users break the Terms of Use, devaluing playtime while putting accounts at significant risk. That leaves the user and Blizzard’s support team cleaning up a considerable mess.”

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