Gamer steals from virtual world to pay real debts

Facing real world debts, a trusted figure in a popular online game stole money from the virtual bank he ran and exchanged it for cash through the black market.

It happened in EVE Online, where more than 300,000 subscribers pay $15 a month to play. They gain wealth through hard work, manipulating the market, or killing rivals in a distant future where humans have colonized the stars in an online game similar to World of Warcraft and Second Life.



EBank, EVE's largest player-run financial institution which has thousands of depositors, is at the center of the scandal.



"Basically this character was one of the people that had been running EBank for a while. He took a bunch of (virtual) money out of the bank, and traded it away for real money," said Ned Coker, of the Icelandic company CCP, which developed the game.



The CEO of EBank, a 27-year-old Australian tech worker who identified himself only as Richard and used the online name Ricdic, embezzled about 200 billion interstellar kredits, the game's virtual currency.



He broke the rules of the game by exchanging the stolen virtual funds for $6,300 Australian ($5,100) with players who preferred to buy virtual money rather than earn it playing the game.



"It was a very on the spot decision," the married father of two explained in an interview.



He said a spam email for a black market website that traded online money for real cash popped up on his screen, prompting him to exchange the virtual cash for real money to cover a deposit on his house and expenses related to his son's medical problems.



"I saw that as an avenue that could be taken, and I decided to skim off the top, you could say, to overcome real life (difficulties)."



Word of the theft spread quickly within EVE. Panicked customers started a run on the bank, worried that they would lose the money they had amassed by hunting space pirates or mining asteroids.



Ironically, if Ricdic had merely stolen the online money he could have stayed in the game. But exchanging the virtual cash for real dollars broke the rules and CCP banned Richard's EBank accounts.



"It unbalances the game," Coker said.



Players can only buy virtual money with real money, or use virtual cash to pay for playing time, but they cannot exchange game money for the real thing.



"We have never seen ourselves as gods who make the rules of social interaction," said Eyjolfur Gudmundsson, an economics adviser to CCP. "You are able to lose the things you have created. That's what makes the world interesting."



Ironically, Richard had built a reputation as one of EVE's few trusted players -- a rare commodity in a game where repeatedly blowing up a violator's spaceship was the only way to enforce some contracts.



Asked if he had any regrets about the scam, Richard said he felt he let down his fellow EBank staffers, many of whom he considered friends.



"I'm not proud of it at all, that's why I didn't brag about it. But you know, if I had to do it again, I probably would've chosen the same path based on the same situation," he said.



EBank survived the crisis. But Richard will not be returning to EVE anytime soon.



"At the moment, we've got our hands full," Richard said about his family responsibilities in the real world.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Marketing Account Manager / Client Liaison Manager

    £25 - 32k DOE: Guru Careers: A digital-savvy Marketing Account Manager / Clien...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Executive

    £23-30k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking bright Business Developmen...

    Inside Sales Manager – SaaS based solutions

    25-30k + Comms + Benefits: Sphere Digital Recruitment: A rapidly expanding tag...

    2nd Line server support

    £25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large organisa...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

    Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

    "I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
    Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

    11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

    Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
    Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

    Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

    The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
    Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

    The school that means business

    Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
    10 best tablets

    The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

    They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
    Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

    Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

    The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
    Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

    Pete Jenson's a Different League

    Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
    John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

    The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
    The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

    The killer instinct

    Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
    Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

    Clothing the gap

    A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

    The Fall of the Berlin Wall

    Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain