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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Scammers Continue to Wreak Havoc in MMO's 330

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the but-i-need-my-virtual-gold dept.
eldavojohn writes "We're all well aware of the scams that sometimes happen in online games like Eve Online. But despite this looking primarily like a problem with Eve Online, the MIT Technology Review brings us stories from Second Life and the very real $700,000 (USD) in Linden Dollars that has recently disappeared in what is appearing to be a classic ponzi scheme by a company named Ginko Banking. Unbelievably high interest rates coupled with some shady withdrawal limits leads to classic epic losses to investors. Eve Online was merely virtual currency but Second Life has a real monetary value associated with Linden Dollars & therefore is certain to see more and more scams pop up like this. How can Linden Labs set up a safety net to catch things like this?"
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Scammers Continue to Wreak Havoc in MMO's

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  • They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Icepick_ (25751) <icepickNO@SPAMnetfamine..com> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @11:55AM (#21883458) Homepage
    Let people be stupid.
    • Re:They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PowerEdge (648673) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @11:57AM (#21883486)
      That'd be nice and all... But in 1st life, people are losing homes for being caught up in schemes, not being "smart" about their purchases, etc. and real action is being taken to punish those who defrauded such "rubes". For some reason or other the Gov't and people in general frown on swindling.
      • by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:04PM (#21883576) Journal
        You have a point there. They should probably make it illegal to be stupid to cover these problems.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That'd be nice and all... But in 1st life, people are losing homes for being caught up in schemes, not being "smart" about their purchases, etc. and real action is being taken to punish those who defrauded such "rubes". For some reason or other the Gov't and people in general frown on swindling.


        They are losing homes that they can't afford, never could afford, and never should have bought.

        Now, losing a home is sad and all, and the lenders are scum, villains and crooks who should be punished, but I find it ha
        • Re:They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

          by PowerEdge (648673) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:26PM (#21883932)
          I agree 100%. Though there was definitely predatory lending and people buying on supposed "house payments" not understanding that taxes, and resets would in effect triple payments in a short couple of years. People buying said homes sometimes were expressly ignorant, or thought they could easily get out of the house when they no longer could afford it. Lots of people lost money in the 1990s and early 2000s due to VC and Media hype on xyz.com IPO. Lots of smart people lost a fortune. It happens. Due diligence is always necessary when forking over hard earned, real money. Unfortunately many people are gullible and are sold a pack of lies. Those selling the pack of lies should be prosecuted and punished. Personally, I fault the Government Schools and Parents for creating the environment we have today. People are manufactured stupid now.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Irish_Samurai (224931)
          You assume a stupid person knows they're stupid or ignorant. By their very nature, the stupid and ignorant don't have the skills to self evaluate accurately.

          I'm all for personal accountability, but I have a hard time coming behind someone who made poor choices and ripping them a new one for doing something they never could have known they shouldn't do. They are kind like a special classification of victim, lets call it Aggravated assault vs. Plain old Assault. INAL, so don't kill me if my example isn't as e
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by syrinx (106469)
        For some reason or other the Gov't and people in general frown on swindling.

        Unless they're the ones doing the swindle... [ssa.gov]
      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:23PM (#21883892) Journal
        "For some reason or other the Gov't and people in general frown on swindling."

        Gov't has a monopoly on swindling and can't afford the competition.
        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Gov't has a monopoly on swindling and can't afford the competition.


          Then how come they let so many corrupt and swindling companies exist? Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of companies that don't do this, but a large majority seem to be all about separating fools and their money to line the company coffers.
          • Greedy Corporations are Government sanctioned entities. They are nothing more than legal constructs of the Gov't, and help facilitate the swindling on behalf and for the Gov't.

            Other than that, I'd agree.
      • Ah. The key concept here is real vs. pretend life. Pretend life is not something that is suddenly new with the advent of online gaming or even with computers at all. People have been having pretend adventures and tragedies for most of recorded history. [reed.edu] One of the big reasons for this is because it's a great way to learn. Now the seemingly "new" complication of the involvement of real money is minor, perhaps trivial. Here's why: anyone who is investing in Linden Dollars is doing so from a home with an intern
      • Re:They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:46PM (#21885106)
        But in 1st life, people are losing homes for being caught up in schemes, not being "smart" about their purchases, etc. and real action is being taken to punish those who defrauded such "rubes". For some reason or other the Gov't and people in general frown on swindling.

        Hahaha. Aside from some cases of fraud, the majority of these cases are people who normally wouldn't qualify for a regular mortgage, and were offered a subprime mortgage at a higher rate, which allowed them to purchase a home. Some of these people bought a lot more than they could afford, and the homeowners are losing their homes as a result (incidentally, the lenders also lose money in foreclosure).

        By comparison, if a bank uses reasonable, impartial criteria (like having a verifiable job, income, down payment & assets) before issuing a mortgage, then civil rights activists would be threatening to sue, saying that the lender is discriminating against minorities.

        Yes, it's very sad that these people lose their homes, but they bought much more than they could afford. Back when I wasn't making very much money during the high-tech bust of 2000, I drove a beat-up Honda Civic. No one would sympathize with me if I had bought a big BMW and couldn't keep up with the payments.

        Live within your means, and read before you sign anything.
    • Re:They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shawn(at)fsu (447153) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:08PM (#21883646) Homepage
      "A fool and his money are soon parted."
      --Thomas Tusser
    • Re:They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrankyFool (680025) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:32PM (#21884010)
      Hardly.

      If we treat this as a moral or ethical issue, we can reasonably argue that we should let people learn, the hard way, how to be responsible for their own finances, especially in an environment where the actual exposure is relatively minimal (the person they covered lost $144 in this scam, and she apparently made all that money by doing things she liked doing on Second Life anyway -- we're not talking about not being able to pay rent here).

      But it's not a moral or ethical issue -- it's a commercial issue. If Linden Labs wants to encourage people to treat Lindenbucks as real money -- and clearly, they do because otherwise they wouldn't set up an exchange rate to the real deal -- then they've got to deal with what is essentially a threat to their profitability. If they don't set up a system where it's safe to exchange money for other tangible goods (and stocks or CDs are tangible), then, in fact, people will learn to protect themselves -- by not transacting with their money and essentially putting their virtual dollars under their virtual mattresses. This is not an outcome that is ideal for Linden Labs -- which is why, regardless of ethics, morality, or "think about the children (or stupid people)!", they should do something to create some sort of reliable, authenticated commerce system that allows for these activities -- out of sheer self interest.
      • But doesn't Linden Labs, exclusively, control their currency?

        ie: like the US Treasury and Fed Reserve system for "creating" money, Linden Labs is the UST/Fed for their world. Don't they know - with exact precision - where each and every Linden dollar is?

        Imagine how much fraud you could eliminate if our own Govt could track every single dollar in the world, along with the history of that dollar (where it has been, what transactions it did, etc). Of course, we would never allow that in the 1st worl
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Especially if we extend "They" to Real as well as Second Life.
    • Re:They shouldn't (Score:4, Informative)

      by rednip (186217) <rednip&gmail,com> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:03PM (#21884416) Journal

      Let people be stupid.

      " Before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, there was little regulation of securities in the United States at the Federal level." [wikipedia.org], banking also has strict regulation. Now we find that, ('surprise') tight(er) controls on Investing/Banking in the virtual world is also needed. However, thanks to the 'containerized' nature of these virtual economies, I believe that federal regulation is not needed. Instead these communities need to consider getting some real professional advice before allowing this sort of activity. Not merely checking to see compliance with the appropriate laws, but using their experience and insights to create 'internal' regulation and a quick response to new threats. I would suggest that they actively pursue programmers from regulated field as well as legal staff.

      To survive, virtual economies like real ones, need to have the people's confidence.

    • Re:They shouldn't (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:09PM (#21884492) Homepage Journal
      Yes. And while we're at it, why not let little old ladies be weak, and let the much stronger muggers take their money.

      I mean, if they deserved that money, they'd be strong enough to still have it, right?

      If the smart should be allowed to scam the stupid, why shouldn't the strong be allowed to steal from the the weak?
  • EVE is a place where scamming is almost encouraged short of a few exceptions.

    It's amazing how often people fall for it.

    Some are as simple as:

    Hey, I'd like to join your corp
    Really? what ship do you a fly
    a
    you have to give it to the corp, contract it to me and we'll let you join.
    OK
    Sucka!

    and there is nothing the person who was just dumb enough to give a ship to someone recourse wise, as designed.

    Now you scam a character, and you have a paper trail, they'll reverse it, but pretty much anything is fair game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      That's what makes Eve so fun to play for complete assholes and so not-fun to play for non-assholes.

      That game attracts more pricks than a porcupine petting zoo.

      • by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot&castlesteelstone,us> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:17PM (#21883814) Homepage Journal
        I'm sorry, Eve has real consequences for failure. It's wide-scale PvP, in a way that actually makes roleplaying make sense.

        Compared to the endless grind of City of Heroes or World of Warcraft... well, finding a way to deal with scammers in Eve is what makes it the only MMO worth playing.
        • by Jugalator (259273)

          finding a way to deal with scammers in Eve is what makes it the only MMO worth playing.
          So it's a MMOPG? Massively Multiplayer Online Psychology Game?

          I'm sorry, but I just don't see how that has as lasting appeal as perfecting a character build or maybe building social networks.
          • I'm sorry, but I just don't see how that has as lasting appeal as perfecting a character build or maybe building social networks.
            you misunderstand.

            If you want to make a "perfect character build", find a perfect ship build.

            If you want to build social networks -- well, how do you think we avoid the scammers?

          • by katre (44238)
            Wow, you mean.... different people enjoy different styles of game? STOP THE PRESSES!
          • Properly fitting a ship in Eve is much more interesting than min/maxing your rogue in WoW, and success in Eve pretty much requires you to build social networks. Solo play is generally quite limited. 'Typical' MMOs just don't hold a candle to Eve in either respect you mentioned.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          Compared to the endless grind of City of Heroes or World of Warcraft... well, finding a way to deal with scammers in Eve is what makes it the only MMO worth playing.

          One would imagine it not taking much searching to find the "fire" button ;).

        • :D All kidding aside, while the "consequences" of EVE may be fun to you and some others the grand parent has a point. World of Warcraft has more people logged on at once than most games have total subscribers. This is not a coincidence, it is because people find it fun. One of the reasons is because WoW is a game that doesn't punish you. You can do what you want to do and not have to worry about major set backs. It is something like a single player game in which you get to save as often as you want: You may
      • I'm not a complete asshole, yet eve is rather fun.

        Of course IM sure that more than one miner ,hauler ,or logistics thinks I'm an asshole. But that what you get for being in an alliance involved in the current game wide war.

        I do enjoy killing pirates though.
    • ... that EVE Online almost encourages ingame scamming. The scammers often employ the same tricks as those in 'the real world', which makes it a learning experience. If someone gets scammed in EVE Online, it costs him some play money and a little embarrassment. In return he learns from the tricks employed and is a little more careful in the future, not just in EVE but hopefully in his day to day life too.

      The scams are usually very easy to spot, but people are still taken in by them. I'd rather it be in a
  • If Linden Labs wants a virtual world, they will need to set up a virtual NSA, a virtual FBI etc. and I guess use the same techniques one would use in the real world ;-))
    This would also mean they will have to start to charge virtual income tax and other taxes as well if they don't already to pay for those services;-))
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      No, they should charge a fair tax only on things purchased new.
    • by FLEB (312391)
      Then there's the problem of enforcement, especially when the profit is worth some more expensive evasion techniques. You don't have the force of much IRL law, and you can't completely reliably ban or punish a physical person when they can get a new CC#, a new IP address, or many other evasive measures, and just set up shop again. I suppose you could take their L$, but it's still much simpler to get money shuffling around among multiple "people" than in the physical world.
    • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:56PM (#21884342) Homepage

      Already happening. From a Linden Labs press release: The company also introduced algorithms that identify suspicious activity...

      A virtual world is a total surveillance society. Everything can be logged. More than that, what you do there can be analyzed automatically.

      Big Brother is watching. Big Brother is always watching.

  • by Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:06PM (#21883614)
    I don't play games such as this, but it seems obvious to me that these sorts of scams are going to happen whenever there is a real dollar value associated with in-game currency. This sort of thing wouldn't happen if the makers of Second Life would remove the exchange rate between Linden dollars and USD; and even if it did happen, it wouldn't really be news.

    One more point: How can the makers of this game do this without running afoul of the banking regulations of various nations, especially if you can buy/sell Linden dollars directly from the company itself?
    • by nsanders (208050) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:11PM (#21883708) Homepage
      Removing the legal exchange won't prevent it. Look at Diablo 2 and the insane rates of SOJs on eBay in the beginning. No matter what, people will scam for money because even if its not worth real money, its still worth something to someone.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hansamurai (907719)
      I'm not sure how much removing the exchange rate would help. For one, the exchange rate I believe is actually useful because people can purchase Linden dollars with real money, if you remove that, you've just created a black market for the exchange similar to World of Warcraft. WoW doesn't list an exchange rate, but for various economic reasons, it still has value. I can go to Ebay and pay X dollars for X amount of gold. The exchange rate isn't written in stone by Blizzard but it still exists. But mayb
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      I don't play games such as this

      This ought to be good...

      but it seems obvious to me

      ...I can't wait!...

      [that] this sort of thing wouldn't happen if the makers of Second Life would remove the exchange rate between Linden dollars and USD

      Ah, of course. Because if the exchange rate wasn't controlled by the company, then nobody would want or be able to exchange in-game currency for legal tender, because nobody does that in WOW or EVE.

      OK, you don't play the games, but do you know any actual humans?

    • 2nd Life is peanuts compared the under-market in countries even as advanced as the US. As much as 20% of US economy (trillions here) is off the books.
  • How can Linden Labs set up a safety net to catch things like this?


    As soon as they figure that one out, they can patent it and start selling the technology to Microsoft to use for their customers.
  • by BigHungryJoe (737554) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:09PM (#21883662) Homepage
    Are Ponzi schemes in Second Life legal? Did the 'scammers' get to keep the money?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485)
      They're legal in the sense that SL has very few actual rules about player conduct and basically no enforcement of the few rules they do have. Unless you're crashing servers or spamming dicks it's pretty hard to get in trouble in SL, and even if you do it's just a temporary suspension. Even if your character were banned, the worst that would happen is you would lose whatever L$ you have not cashed out for real life bucks and would be forced to roll a new character.
  • by Serenissima (1210562) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:09PM (#21883668)
    So, any anonymous Joe Schmoe can open a Bank in Second Life? And people are surprised when they give money to a stranger and something like this happens? Well shit, maybe I should start playing the game and create my own bank! You know you can trust me because I'm playing the same game you are! That makes us almost like kin!
  • by jandrese (485)
    Doesn't someone do this about once every six months in Second Life? I'm pretty sure if I troll through the archives I'll find plenty of references to people who set up "banks" in SL, and then promptly ran away with the L$ after a few months. Why people put their trust (and $!) in the hands of some random person they don't know on the internet is beyond me. As far as I know, not one of these SL "banks" has ever been legitimate. I guess P.T. Barnum was right.
  • ugh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Detaer (562863) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:12PM (#21883722)
    How does second life still drum up this much publicity? Its nothing but over hyped marketing and furries looking for some sort of acceptance. If you don't talk about it, second life will disappear.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      That's a damn lie, and you know it. Second Life also has plenty of paedophiles.
    • Re:ugh.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kreigaffe (765218) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @02:04PM (#21885392)
      I was scrolling through looking to see if someone hadn't made this sort of comment.

      If no one had, I was going to.. instead I'll throw my support behind your comment as much as I can with no mod points.

      Second Life is just.. just fucking terrible. I've seen articles about second life in all SORTS of publications, because the writers play.. and the funniest one was in a business mag, geared towards management (i can only assume middle.. blegh). Talked about all sorts of buzzwords, bunch of bullshit, you get to the end of the article and the writer included a shot of his in-game character, how nice.

      With a tiger's head.

      The shit you're forced to read when you're not-working at work and already read the 4-day old newpaper..
  • by jeti (105266) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:12PM (#21883730) Homepage
    There's an interesting article by the RuneScape development team on the problems scammers and real world traders cause for the game and about possible solutions that they are implementing:
    http://www.runescape.com/kbase/view.ws?guid=diary06 [runescape.com]

    Excerpts:
    The majority of bots that we ban from members have been paid for with stolen credit card numbers.
    Such accounts don't earn us money, they cost us money in bank refund charges.

    During 2006, we banned bot and real-world trader accounts carrying RuneScape gold and items worth over 200 billion gp. During 2007, so far, we've banned over 525 billion, which has a real-world value of over $2.6 million US - that's an increase of over 250%.

    • by Andy_R (114137)
      Sadly, the 'solution' that Jagex (the company that runs RuneScape) have put in place is to turn their MMPORG into the first MSPORG (massively single player online realtime game), by blocking players from making ANY kind of transaction that involves transferring value from one character to another, making they game a mockery of it's former self:

      They removed player vs player combat ('the wilderness'), to stop traders deliberately losing fights to transfer wealth, ignoring the fact that a huge portion of their
    • by gnuman99 (746007)
      No. It is not an increase of over 250%. It is an increase of over 150%. 250% *increase* means,

          200 * ( 1 + 2.50 ) => 200 * 3.50 => 700

      The key word here is *increase*. The new figure is 250% of the old one, but it is an increase of over 150% or 150% more.
  • by db32 (862117) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:14PM (#21883772) Journal
    I have a real hard time feeling very sympathetic to most of these people being scammed. These types of scams typically rely on the victim allowing greed to shut down their brain. I am normally one to be pretty vicious towards the scammers in things like credit cards and predatory lending, because often enough it isn't exploiting greed and get rich quick schemes so much as it is a genuine fraud and manipulation. This subprime crap and scams like this are almost exclusively greed driven on the part of the victim. Listen to the radio and you will hear dozens of commercials per day on how to get rich quick in real estate, flipping houses, or whatever other genious plan being sold. I can't imagine why someone selling real estate would try to sell a system of how to get rich by buying real estate...
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      I've known two people to date who've been taken in by pyramid schemes. Naturally the schemers change their terminology around but you can not hide the underlying structure of the scheme -- new members give money to existing members who pass it up to the people who recruited them. Note that some valid MLMs exist -- Amway being an example where actual production takes place. However once you establish that in fact no production is going on then what you're left with is a pyramid scheme plain and simple.

      Turn

  • But I've never understood why anyone would use REAL money in a FAKE world!
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      People use real money to buy fake things all the time. Some men choose to buy a Camaro rather than a real penis extension, for example.
    • On the contrary, I can't imagine who wouldn't use real money converted into Linden $ in SL. People will actually do "work" in SL to earn L$. Most people make between US$0.50 and US$1.00 per hour. Why would you do that? Just get a real job and convert a few bucks so you can buy a new slutty dress or furry suit in SL and be done with it already.
  • by compumike (454538) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:16PM (#21883802) Homepage
    Ginko's exchange rates only made sense if inflation was high too. The economy was being manipulated and Linden Labs was "printing" more money [wikipedia.org]. But given Wikipedia's description of what happened, it appears exactly like what happened in the US not too long ago. The "government" changed a law about the legality of internet gambling, and this instantly caused the deaths of several companies. It's actually kind of interesting to watch how a virtual currency behaves and how to create an economic system even within a game like this.

    --
    Our microcontroller kit. Your gcc compiler. Learn digital electronics. [nerdkits.com]
  • "How can Linden Labs set up a safety net to catch things like this?"

    How about starting by getting a FIRST LIFE!

    I have very little sympathy for people who have bad things happen to them when doing something stupid.
  • by Idaho (12907) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:25PM (#21883926)

    We're all well aware of the scams that sometimes happen in online games like Eve Online. But despite this looking primarily like a problem with Eve Online [..]

    (emphasis mine)

    Uhmmmm, hello?

    Eve Online is specifically designed to have a player-driven economy and market. As in real life, it is possible to scam people in such a market. This is not just allowed in Eve online, it has in fact been close to actively encouraged (as in, people have asked devs/GM's whether it's ok to do certain things, and got a reply that amounts to "if it's not obviously prohibited by the EULA, go right ahead". It has made for some nice stories as well, some people may remember the story about the Eve Intergalactic Bank [slashdot.org] piramid scam.

    The devs consider this kind of thing to be exactly as intended and have even stated so in public forums. So yes, it's a harsh game. It is actually possible to lose the work of several months in a matter of minutes.

    Of course, there are still rules/an EULA, for example it's not OK to phish for account details, to sell or buy in-game money for real-world money, etc. However, if you manage to convince hundreds of people that they should invest in your piramid scheme, you should absolutely go right ahead.
  • Stupid should hurt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sstamps (39313) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @12:47PM (#21884216) Homepage
    I'm an avid SL resident, and have been vocal about the Ginko subject in the SL community forums on numerous occasions.

    Basically, as many have said there and elsewhere, when you participate in one of these "banks", you give your money to someone. That's how LL sees it. You are GIVING your money to someone. Whether they give it back or not, let alone pay you any extra for the privilege, is gratis, and they have no intention of doing anything about it if the owner of bank X up and disappears with the money. ANYone can set up ATM machines anywhere and do what Ginko did. Well, they can't any more, as people have already been burned and are wary, but there are still many naive people out there who will blithely go up to an ATM, see flowery words and fabulous interest rates, and deposit every L$ in their account, never suspecting that it isn't a "real" bank.

    Yes, it is only "virtual money". Any real world value it holds is subject to change at any time. Most cases, it isn't a lot of money that is lost in these scams. It's an expensive lesson to learn, but it is far from life-breaking for anyone.

    What is kind of telling is that LL does stop pyramid schemes and other such money scams, but does nothing to stop Ponzi schemes, like Ginko's (not-so-affectionately called the "Porto-Ponzi" in the SL forums). Ponzi schemes are a variation on pyramid schemes and, if one is regulated, the other should be as well. It is left as an exercise to the reader why LL can't seem to fathom this concept and put an end to SL "banks".

    In the end, though, it is and should remain caveat emptor. In some ways, I think it is a good training ground for RL. The money involved is often nothing more than discretionary income for most folks, so losing it shouldn't hurt any more than losing it in a poker game. There's more than enough wisdom out there for people to obtain and investigate before giving their money to anyone. Whether they choose to ignore it falls squarely on their shoulders and no one else's.
    • Make contracts enforceable in second life. Write up a simple description language for them, with in-world actions as clauses.

      "X agrees to TransferLindens(Z) to Y on yyyy/mm/dd, and Y agrees to TransferLindens(Z*1.05) to X on yyyy/mm/dd+365 days" would be a simple 5% interest 1 year bond. It would be relatively simple to prove solvency at any point in time, making banks impossible to run scam from or bust. Just prevent any transaction or contract that would cause net worth (Lindens on hand plus incoming co
  • The only proper punishment, is to put the scammers' avatars in virtual second life jails and confiscate their second life properties.
  • So if you lose your money there, whether through a bug or through fraud, you're screwed. Also since the "country of second life" is not part any one country or the U.N., there are no federal or international laws applicable in the word of second life. This is the problem with virtual property.

    Technically money is virtual as well since the little pieces of paper you carry around are technically worthless, but at least paper money is backed by the Government which has rules protecting you from theft. That
  • by misleb (129952) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:30PM (#21884822)
    I simply don't consider a crime (in the real world) to scam someone out of fake money in a game that aims to similate a large universe with a full economy and social structure. Just like there are players who will "Pod" you, there are those who will scam you. Just the way the game works. It creates a great atmosphere and drama, IMO. The Eve scams that I recall were particularly entertaining because they were so elaborate.

    That said, I'm all for IN GAME solutions to the problems like having scammers arrested or have bounties on their heads or something, but there's no need to take it to RL and make it a legal issue.

    -matthew

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @01:45PM (#21885082) Journal
    ...nature's way of telling you that you're a dumbass.

    It's financial Darwinism. And, as mentioned many times, the best cons take advantage of someone who "THINKS" that they are scamming someone else, to get something for nothing.

    If you are SO gullible, that you think the widow of a Nigerian minister will out of the blue contact you to help claim $millions in aid money, then you, sir or madam, are a dumbass. I don't care if you're a blue-haired granny who makes wonderful cookies for your grandchildren and always is willing to help someone down on their luck.

    Dumbass doesn't mean "bad", it just means stupid. And you can't legislate against stupidity. You can apparently ELECT it, but you can't legislate against it.

    The moral of this of course, is that if granny gets taken to the cleaners, then perhaps her family shouldn't have let granny so loose on the financial leash, should they? And the upshot of that? Pay attention to the people you care about. Be interested in them and their lives, in what they're doing. If they're going off the rails and you care about them, get involved.
  • by ClubPetey (324486) <clubpetey@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday January 02, 2008 @02:56PM (#21886160)
    LL or CCP (makers of EVE) can stop this the same way real credit card companies find fraud. Velocity.

    Given that all monetary transactions go through a single transaction system. Those transactions can be monitored by a set of fraud rules. I'll use EVE as an example, since I play the game. Rules would be like:

    - Player donations into an account of X ISK over Y hours exceeds Z
        (probably hacked accounts feeding a central account)

    - Player donations out of account of X ISK to more than Y different players
        (probably an ISK-seller)

    - Player donations into an account from more than X players over Y hours
        (could be ponzi schemes)

    Each scam that comes up will have a pattern in monetary transactions that can be flagged using these rules. once an account is flagged, a security representative can review the specifics of the account and determine if it is potentiall fraud, and perhaps suspend the account.

    Human interaction is critical here, because the rules are not perfect. For example, the last rule would trigger for most EVE-Radio DJs that run lottos during their on-air time. A perfectly legitimate concept. That where the addition of a white list becomes useful.

    A few hours or days with an "expert" who works for a major bank would help curb these issue somewhat. The bad news is, these systems only work when installed in the core of the transaction system. Only LL/CCP can solve this problem, and they have to WANT to solve it.

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