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EVE Online Ponzi Scheme Nets $50k Worth of In-Game Currency

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the almost-enough-for-a-monocle dept.

Crime 171

Calidreth writes "EVE Online is famous for its stories of theft, underhanded dealings, criminal empires and general unscrupulous play. For EVE players, this is generally an accepted part of the game and part of the risk players run. The type of scheme might be old, but the profits were big in the latest EVE Online scam, which has broken records and is now being called the biggest scam in the game's history."

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171 comments

It's fun when it's fiction (3, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099402)

regardless of how much real-world money the fraud was supposedly worth, it was all fictional money people basically invested for fun. Anyone treating a game as a serious investment has problems that the FEC can't fix.

I see this as a positive thing for EVE, because it underlies how the game is a kind of organized crime simulator all-the-more.

ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

WarlockD (623872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099596)

The story is awesome but I hate gamergaia.com, they just re-post crap from forms and put it on their site.

You get isk by selling these tokens. You buy a token using your credit card and the token represents one month of playtime. Then you can sell this token to another player for ISK. (At-least that's how it was a few years ago. Id figure they have a more direct method by now.)

In the article "The amount of ISK stolen was enough to buy 2,953 30-day time codes which is worth a whopping $51,577.50" This is 246 YEARS of play time here. There is no way of ever recouping this money either so it even makes that 50k worthless as any kind of measure.

1.8 trillion isk? Now thats much more scary number. Even if it did get to 1.0 trillion, that could supply pirates for a long time to come:P

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37099628)

The story is awesome but I hate gamergaia.com, they just re-post crap from forms and put it on their site.

You get isk by selling these tokens. You buy a token using your credit card and the token represents one month of playtime. Then you can sell this token to another player for ISK. (At-least that's how it was a few years ago. Id figure they have a more direct method by now.)

In the article "The amount of ISK stolen was enough to buy 2,953 30-day time codes which is worth a whopping $51,577.50" This is 246 YEARS of play time here. There is no way of ever recouping this money either so it even makes that 50k worthless as any kind of measure.

1.8 trillion isk? Now thats much more scary number. Even if it did get to 1.0 trillion, that could supply pirates for a long time to come:P

Can't you sell the codes for real money?

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099726)

Not legitimately. There is no conversion from in-game money or game-time tokens to real cash.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099770)

Is it not possible to sell 30-day time codes on the open market, say through some well-known auction site?

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (2)

ZankerH (1401751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099922)

You can sell them on the in-game market for in-game currency. You can't (legitimately) sell them for real money.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099966)

You mean like WOW gold?

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100622)

Of course you can. That is a loophole voluntarily left open.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100866)

You can't turn the 30 Day Pilot License Extension back into a Game Time Card. It's not possible to legitimately sell PLEX for real money, although there are third party sites that will sell PLEX for real money at slightly below market rates and deliver then in-game via Jita contract.

That's a ToS violation though, so it's not legitimate.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101368)

Has anyone been prosecuted for that ?

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37101446)

No, because it's not illegal. You could certainly get banned from the game if CCP caught you doing it, but that's it.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100574)

In the article "The amount of ISK stolen was enough to buy 2,953 30-day time codes which is worth a whopping $51,577.50" This is 246 YEARS of play time here. There is no way of ever recouping this money either so it even makes that 50k worthless as any kind of measure.

Actually, you can recoup that money, if you were to sell the in-game currency on one of the many auction sites that deal in exactly this sort of thing. The 50k figure is therefore quite valid as a measure of the potential market value of the currency. Furthermore, the amount of potential play-time the currency represents is completely irrelevant.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100896)

Black market RMT PLEX sells for almost half the price of PLEX acquired via GTC. The RMT seller must have a margin in there too, so in pure RMT terms if 1tn ISK is $51k in GTC PLEX it's worth more like $20k in RMT.

That's not that big a haul considering how long it took. Eddie really went to town spamming the trade hubs, I even remember seeing him in outlying systems round Amarr a few months back.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101092)

I'd seen him around Amarr as well. To be honest the only really shocking thing to hear about this guy was that he was actually that successful. I had taken him for a small peanuts type newb operation. He certainly didn't portray his corp as anything else. The fact that people are so easily exploited is baffling.

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101290)

Yea I know, look at Spaceship Barbie's contract history! I figured out the 1 trit mineral scam the first time I ever hit the grid in Jita, it amazes me that people with billions of ISK don't twig.

Although having said that, you do get players who somehow manage to amass large amounts of ISK despite having no skill, like this killmail [eve-wtf.com] .

Re:ITS NOT REAL-WORLD MONEY! (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101860)

That discount reflects the following risks:

* It being against the rules, so the seller might be just ripping you off, since you have no recourse if you're cheated
* Getting caught and either banned or having the PLEX confiscated by a GM
* the buyer possibly being an undercover GM doing a sting.

It's black market for a reason. The guy selling it has no incentive except his reputation not to take your money and run. Since it's a TOS violation, you can't sue, and you can't complain to a GM.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099608)

Not quite.

While the currency IS virtual, people are still spending a LOT of time playing in order to earn this kind of money.

That said, kudos to the people pulling it off. It fits well within the game.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100338)

Yeah, seems perfectly fair within the game. Use your brain, people. EVE is dog-eat-dog. Trust no one.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (3)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100520)

people are still spending a LOT of time playing in order to earn this kind of money.

Not necessarily. If you have ISK to invest it doesn't take a lot of time to make more. I've made about 600 million ISK each of the last couple months by spending 15 minutes a day managing my investments. I guess you could argue for 7.5 hours invested per month this is not a very good pay rate but in the MMO scheme of things this is virtually no time at all.

I've come to a point where the game is actually boring because I have more cash than I need and nothing left to work for because skills take so long to train. I have the best gear I can buy for my skills, and my progression to bigger and better things is limited entirely by the flow of time rather than anything that gives me an incentive to play the game. I consider this an immense design flaw. Level 4 missions are boring. Mining is boring. Exploring is marginally interesting in the same way as a sudoku puzzle but ultimately futile because it just nets me more money. Switching to a PvP clone slows down skill training which is admittedly a tough decision in the face of mounting boredom. There is no reason for me to even log in besides managing investments and talking to corpmates. Needless to say I'm looking forward to Diablo3.

Cue some tool replying to this saying "If you can buy everything you need with under X bajillion ISK then you must not have faction module ABC which offers 0.0001% better stats than your meta-level 4 ABC module."

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (1)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100578)

whoops - There were suppose to be <Off-topic rant> tags around those last two paragraphs. Darn HTML stripping.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37101380)

When i reached that stage I joined a nullsec corp.
Opened up a whole new game to me.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37099816)

it was all fictional money

All money is.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101868)

The money may be fictional, but the guns the feds will point your way for not using them to pay your taxes, are very much real.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (4, Interesting)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099930)

In a game where you can pretend to be a vicious murdering pirate, is it okay to pretend to be a white collar criminal?

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37099988)

In a game where you can pretend to be a vicious murdering pirate, is it okay to pretend to be a white collar criminal?

Yes, but in such a game, only the most disgusting, dispicable, and psychologically depraved players would choose the white collar crime route.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101126)

That's not a very nice portrayal of carebears... Unlike pirates, we make you feel good about yourself and your investments before we siphon off your holdings. Surely that's got to count for something.

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (3, Funny)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100296)

What is the difference?

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100554)

That would be quite a feat... seeing as how the Federal Election Commission can't manage to get a vote tally right to save it's life ^_^.

Yes... I know you meant SEC...

Re:It's fun when it's fiction (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100930)

Actually, some people do treat Eve as a serious investment, like the real money traders ISK Bank. Using them violates the TOS; it's not something I would do even though their prices are far cheaper than selling PLEX purchased legitimately.

Having said that, ISK Bank apparently make enough money to keep the Russian that runs it in vodka and caviar.

For most people Eve is just a game though. There's no legitimate way to extract money from it, in fact the smart way to play Eve is to figure out how to generate enough revenue in-game for the minimum effort, so you don't have to spend any more money on it.

EVE players fell for that? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099416)

You'd think a bunch of accountants wouldn't fall for a Ponzi scheme.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099454)

Looking at recent history it seems like they are very likely to fall for such a thing.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

zget (2395308) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099550)

Why the word "fall" for it? I'm sure there are people who understand it fully, and took the risk to gain some easy profit. That's true in this Eve case and in real life. They can gain good profit easily, while understanding that there's also a risk of never seeing the money again.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099652)

Because if you understood it fully then you are a scammer, not a victim. The only way to make money from a Ponzi scheme is to get in early, those who get in early are running the scam not victims.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

jdpars (1480913) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099736)

No, one of the worst things about a Ponzi scheme is being someone not screwed over by it, yet not knowing it's a scam. Are you supposed to give the money back? What happens if someone finds out you didn't lose everything? They'll be very angry with you, because usually that first line of early-adopters are the people attacked, not the folks who started it.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100158)

No, one of the worst things about a Ponzi scheme is being someone not screwed over by it, yet not knowing it's a scam.

A scam that stands up to even a small amount of serious scrutiny is an exceedingly rare entity. If you didn't know, you definitely could have obtained a good idea. While proving that something like this is a scam is usually difficult, knowing it is not. It's just a matter of basic due diligence.

But maybe you're the trusting sort who wants to believe that every random stranger who comes up to you with an offer that sounds great is an honest person who is looking out for your best interests. This is truly unwise, and enables the evil things people will do for money and other forms of selfish gain, but it happens. So in spite of the odds against you, you actually profited.

Why should I blame you for that? Why should anyone? This isn't a "why not" question, it's properly a "why" question. The burden of proof on the person who says you should be blamed.

Are you supposed to give the money back?

Since it is yours, you are "supposed" to do with it as you see fit. If you want to give it back, no one should stop you. If you don't want to give it back, no one should take it by force. No one should fashion weapons out of your heart-strings and guilt-trip you into giving it back either.

You could give it back for the wrong reason, not from your real desire but from some sense that you have to, usually with a reason that sounds noble on the surface. The problem is, that reason won't stand up to examination. I'll explain with the next paragraph.

What happens if someone finds out you didn't lose everything? They'll be very angry with you, because usually that first line of early-adopters are the people attacked, not the folks who started it.

The term for this is jealousy. If the jealousy of others is something you want to legitimize, something you want to feed so that it may grow and prosper, something you want to reward by giving it what it demands so that next time it will be even more insistent and self-assured, then give the money back because of someone who says you shouldn't have it because they didn't get it. I will say that if you actually give a damn about that person, you wouldn't feed their character weaknesses, not even if they hate you for refusing to do it.

If they make this a condition of talking with you, being civil to you, being your friend, etc, then they are not a friend because they are manipulating you. That's something no real friend would do. It then boils down to a matter of your own selfish impulses, like whether you need people around you to think you're a swell, likable guy no matter how phony it is, no matter how much you're actually enabling what's wrong with them. In that case you'll have to put on a show to stay in the business of winning their approval, which they will no doubt reward by telling you how good you are, that way your notion of your own goodness and self-worth becomes something they can give to you and withhold from you.

I hope that speaks to the deeper reason, the real reason why you're worried about this.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099852)

Because if you understood it fully then you are a scammer, not a victim. The only way to make money from a Ponzi scheme is to get in early, those who get in early are running the scam not victims.

Someone who invests in a thing without knowing all about it, without fully evaluating exactly what risk they are taking, is not a victim. They are consciously making a poor, risky decision. When they do this and lose their shirts you call them "victims". That's some kind of emotional sensation that sounds somewhat reasonable but does not stand up to examination.

From the scammers themselves, as quoted in TFA:

We set up our financial planning to be able to grow as fast as possible, but with increments that would enable us to efficiently reach our goals; not too fast, not too slow. Both going too slow or too fast would have stopped us too soon. We adapted our advertising to the financial planning. We only advertised in local chatboxes in solar systems. We had several reasons for this method. (One was to stay in control of the amount of attention our services received.

We slowly increased the amount of ads dropped per day. We intentionally didn't go big on the forums. The forums, market discussions specifically, have always been the place to "bash" any new services. A big drawback to forums is - information stays on forums forever. Every potential investor would read all the negativism. With ads in local, we got some negative responses too, but they disappeared after a very short while. That's how a chatbox works.

Generally, honest investment plans are done in the open. They do not fear a permanent record. They are prepared to answer any negative complaints and, if valid, they are also prepared to make it right. Honest investments also tend not to promise exceedingly large returns for little or no work. What kind of person really needs to have this explained to them as though it were new, mysterious information?

Whether it is virtual currency or real currency, scams like this are merely implementing a stupidity tax. As Thomas Tusser said, "a fool and his money are soon parted." As I believe the network effects of rampant stupidity are doing immeasurable damage to the economy and the general quality of life on this planet, I consider anything that makes (the strictly opt-in kind of) stupidity more painful to be a public service.

Whether it offends anyone or not, the truth is that there is a definite correlation between a) not investing in shady operations that shy away from openness and transparency and b) not getting screwed over. That's a bit like saying there's a definite correlation between not punching a brick wall and not having a painful hand, only the brick wall doesn't gain anything from that transaction so there's much less room for misplaced sympathy and all the confusion of simple facts it causes in that particular example.

It's not like the world has never seen a Ponzi scheme before, it's not like there are no definite signs when you are dealing with one, and it's not like you should invest funds you cannot afford to lose in shady operations. For those who refuse to see it that way, there is always what you call "victimhood".

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100082)

Someone who invests in a thing without knowing all about it, without fully evaluating exactly what risk they are taking, is not a victim. They are consciously making a poor, risky decision. When they do this and lose their shirts you call them "victims". That's some kind of emotional sensation that sounds somewhat reasonable but does not stand up to examination.

They are victims if they no know better. Is it fair to steal candy from a baby? To rob the elderly because they are too weak to protect themselves?

Generally, honest investment plans are done in the open. They do not fear a permanent record. They are prepared to answer any negative complaints and, if valid, they are also prepared to make it right. Honest investments also tend not to promise exceedingly large returns for little or no work. What kind of person really needs to have this explained to them as though it were new, mysterious information?

Idiots, and guess what? The world is full of them.

I know this, you know this, but everyday people like this take the money of people who don't. In the real world they often exploit the old and uneducated. We can either say it is ok for you to cheat your fellow man or we can say that it is not. I know where I stand.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101076)

They are victims if they no know better. Is it fair to steal candy from a baby? To rob the elderly because they are too weak to protect themselves?

There's lots of things I don't know how to do. I either learn how to do them (that's education) or I don't attempt them at all if learning how isn't worth the effort to me. Either way, I understand when I do and don't know what I am dealing with. This is the kind of common sense you can't really teach someone, except by example. It's not "education" in the standard sense, not at all. Lots of very educated people are still naive and gullible.

It would be wrong ("unfair" if you must view it that way) to steal candy from a baby. But then, I don't see babies soliciting investment opportunities in candy Ponzi schemes. I don't see them being actively involved in their own scamming. So you'd have to actually rob the baby, that is take something away by force. Like your example dealing with the elderly, robbery is considered a violent crime for a reason. It does not depend on anyone falling for anything. It is brute force or threat of same. It works on the wise and the stupid alike.

You can try to conflate falling for a scam with the violent crime of robbery if you think that's the only way you have an objection, but it's weak. It makes you look like you either don't really know what you're talking about or are very desperate and clutching at straws to make a point because you have a weak position. It's exactly like the copyright cartels when they try to pretend like infringing copyright is the same thing as theft when they know (or should know) damned well that it isn't. In their case, they're simply being dishonest. Are you?

Idiots, and guess what? The world is full of them.

Yes, it is. The funny thing about idiots is that they don't like learning even though they almost never have any sort of learning disability. They have libraries, books, people willing to teach them, schools, the Internet, and many other resources at their disposal which are either free or low-cost and accessible. They choose not to use them. They decide they have higher priorities. So be it. But that does not make them victims.

I know this, you know this, but everyday people like this take the money of people who don't. In the real world they often exploit the old and uneducated. We can either say it is ok for you to cheat your fellow man or we can say that it is not. I know where I stand.

Once again you're trying to twist what I said and once again I wonder if you are just emotionally reactive or if you are deliberately dishonest.

Not once did I say it's okay to scam and cheat others. I said it amounted to a stupidity tax. I said something that makes stupidity more difficult, more painful, and less sustainable amounts to a public service. I never once made a moral judgment on the matter. You can proudly proclaim your condemnation of the scammers and pretend like I celebrate what they do, if that makes you feel better and lets you dream of being superior to something. The tactics you are using in this discussion suggest a deep-seated need to do that. After all it's not good enough that you are right; someone else must also be wrong, right?

But now that you mention it, no I don't particularly like scammers. I just recognize widespread, rampant stupidity and an anti-intellectual culture of impulsiveness among adult people to be a far greater problem in the scheme of things. If you got rid of that, you'd also eliminate scammers simply because such scams would no longer be profitable. So, as I always advocate, I focus on the cause and not the myriad effects of that cause when I want to eliminate something. It has never mattered to me if every single other person insists on being distracted by the branches and twigs; I go for the root.

I would much rather people get a clue and stop taking such unnecessary, reckless risks with their livelihoods (virtual or real) by learning to respect themselves, to cherish reason, to shed their naivete. That would be the right way to deal with things. But this kind of naive stupidity is an inherently unstable condition. It will either lead to its own undoing or it will feed those who will encourage and exploit it. It is in its nature to do at least one of those two things. While I would much, much rather we deal with this the right way, those who do it the wrong way by making it more painful are not entirely without merit. There is some good that results from it and I refuse to pretend that their isn't, despite your weak attempts to demonize this line of thought.

That's because some people would never learn at all if they didn't learn certain things the hard way. Others would never learn things the easy way if there were not existing examples of what one should not do. This is the world in which we live. If you want to work to effect positive change, you first must acknowledge the way things are.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101888)

Pirates are like robbers, whereas scammers are like crooks.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099806)

The victim mentality doesn't mix well with any kind of gambling.

You "profit from a venture" if it works in your advantage.

You "fall for a scam" if it doesn't work out in your advantage.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099874)

This is not gambling. Gambling is where you are told there are two possible outcomes win/lose and there is some outside condition on which they are based.

This is a scam. You are not told how the game works, or that the table is rigged.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099464)

Actually, that seems to be the majority of people falling for Ponzi schemes lately. Just look at who invests in hedge funds.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099560)

The thing is, *if* you know it's a Ponzi scheme, and *if* you know when it's going to collapse so you can pull out at the right time, it can net you quite a lot of money. Not realising either of these two things of course can be a way to loose a lot of money too.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099622)

Wake me when EVE has 419 scams.

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100004)

With the amount of backstabbing that goes on in that game I'd think the 419s would be common.
First hit on EVE 419 Scam
http://www.eve-search.com/thread/1299045/page/1

Re:EVE players fell for that? (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101170)

What I don't get is why anyone would bother with such "investments" in the first place. The ROI promised by investing in Eddie's company was really peanuts. It was rather like sitting on your hands while you watched interest accrue (and your money de-value) on a RL certificate of deposit. A couple basic trade runs would have netted better.

na na na na na na na na (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099428)

BITCOIN!1one!11

Don't understand spending time/money on game asset (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099472)

I'm not a luddite by any means but I still don't understand people's will spend money on virtual property. I understand buying a game outright to play it. I understand renting one. I don't understand the willingness to pay real money for fictional in game articles. I think it's a form of insanity. In fact after contributing in game content for free in my younger days and watching games fade out of existence - even games with a rock solid user base like Microsoft Flight Simulator - I'm less willing to spend my limited time creating free content. Gaming is suppose to be fun. It shouldn't require substantial spends in time and effort. Same goes for simulation, unless you're training for a real world job.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (4, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099540)

How is spending substantial sums of money on in-game items of no practical real-world value any different from spending substantial sums of money on real-world items of no practical real-world value?

Some people get as much enjoyment out of EVE as you might out of a month in the Bahamas. What makes them insane and you perfectly normal?

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099576)

The fact that EVE players enjoy making themselves vulnerable to theft in the same way others would enjoy getting some sun and a nap?

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099908)

Traveling to tourist destinations makes you vulnerable to theft, too.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099978)

Your somewhat vulnerable to theft anywhere. Whether going on vacation makes you more vulnerable depends where you are travelling FROM ;) and how much brought with you to lose.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

0137 (45586) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100720)

Interestingly enough these considerations apply precisely to EVE as well.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

dlingman (1757250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101166)

It also depends on whom you've told, and how much you didn't bring with you, but left behind to be pillaged.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099992)

It wasn't theft. It's not like the scammers broke into their account and transferred ISK to another account. It was a scam, and scams are part of the game.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

zget (2395308) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100052)

Counter-strike players also make themselves vulnerable to death.. Come on, it's a fucking game.

Marginal cost of virtual goods = $0 (1)

Fred Ferrigno (122319) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101356)

You can't make another Bahamas just by hitting a button on your keyboard.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

oneplus999 (907816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099556)

It makes as much sense as someone paying thousands of dollars for a single club instead of buying a $100 set of clubs off ebay. They're playing the same game as everyone else either way, but some people are very competitive and willing to pay for an advantage.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (2)

OttoErotic (934909) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099704)

My thousand dollar club was worth every penny. With it I shattered the skulls of my foes and defended the realm against the white walkers. Or were you talking about some other type of club?

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101256)

My thousand dollar club was worth every penny. With it I shattered the skulls of my foes and defended the realm against the white walkers. Or were you talking about some other type of club?

I call shenanigans. Everyone knows you need to use obsidian to kill white walkers.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099564)

Just FYI, the dollar figure quoted is how much it'd cost to buy that much ISK if you were converting Eve Game Time Cards at today's prices.

It's entirely possible, with a little skill and effort, to play Eve essentially for free. Spending money upfront to turn a GTC into ISK is actually pretty sensible. I did it to generate some operating capital and now I'm the situation of having a trade / industry alt that I log into every few days to update orders, move stock around and whatnot (pretty much the trading part of Elite) and a main PvP / PvE.

Eve is actually really casual friendly if you're a little smart about it!

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37101136)

I'd like to invest in your newsletter.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101176)

Sure, reply with a character name for me to Eve mail. I'll be happy to give you a few hints upon receipt of 100m ISK :)

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (3, Insightful)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099570)

Social signaling.

Why do you buy $30 t-shirts with hilarious geeky in-jokes, when the 3-for-$5 pack of t-shirts are, functionally, identical?

Social signaling.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

Dominare (856385) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099598)

Is Microsoft Office "real" or not? People pay a fee to use code. Whether that code produces a word processing application or the sword of 1,000 truths doesn't really make much difference at the end of the day, does it? You can argue that the word processor is more "useful" than the sword, but then you're basically arguing against anyone spending their money on things that are fun instead of useful.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (0)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099634)

I don't get it either. I was unconvinced by MMORPGs[1] like World of Warcraft where you have to pay to keep playing. Paying to get even more virtual goods which you don't even get to keep if you leave the game is just a bit dumb IMHO.

[1] I object to computer games being called Role Playing Games: I've never seen an MMORPG, or indeed any computer based 'RPG' work as well as a real table top RPG. Computers lack the imagination to create plot twists that a human games master can create. If your players want to wander off the dedicated path the computer has been set, I've not yet seen computer compensate for it. Not yet anyway.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099860)

Why is that dumb? Most subscription-based MMOs charge $15 / €12 or so a month. That is less than one visit to the cinema. For that price you get a hell of a lot of entertainment out of an MMO, if you're into that sort of thing. Even if you sometimes buy a few gewgaws for real money from other players or an in-game store, it's still one of the cheaper pastimes in €/hour.

By the way, some MMOs are great vehicles for player-run RP scenarios, and you'll find plenty of roleplaying going on in there. You're still bound to certain conditions set by the game, but on the other hand, an MMO gives you access to a vast pool of potential roleplayers to adventure with. It is different from tabletop RPGs but not necessarily a poorer experience.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100018)

It's entertainment. If you're getting your entertainment value for the money it's worth it. Otherwise not.

You can buy two months worth of EVE game time for the price of taking someone to the movies, so we're not talking a lot of money here.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100048)

a) play the Elder Scrolls games. b) the inability to do what the fuck you want at any given time does not make it less of an RPG.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099718)

People pay for game hacks. It's all about delivery of a service. Paying someone to read to you for an hour a day doesn't produce a tangible product either.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

DrVxD (184537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100694)

Paying someone to read to you for an hour a day doesn't produce a tangible product either.

That rather depends on what you have them read; pick the right text and you may learn something. (or, even better, do what I did and learn how to read for yourself)

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (2)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099872)

I and many EVE players will agree 100% with what you said. However, the reason there is an in-game to real life money conversion in EVE is because you can buy game time with real money, convert that game time into an in-game item which can then be sold for in-game money to another player, who can then convert that item back to game time on his account (or a few other services such as character transfers/portrait changes, etc). But the overall idea is simply that some people will have real money but not time, and others have time but no real money. This allows both those groups to enjoy EVE as many people will happily buy game time for the current rate of in-game money since they have good in-game income sources and/or play time dedicated to earning it.

There was recently (end of July) a pretty large revolt in the game based on leaked emails and internal communications from the developers/management at CCP (the makers/runners of EVE) about allowing other items to be purchased with "micro-transactions". That was all about what you are talking about. Most a perfectly fine about the current system of simply trading items which can be redeemed for game time. It is when you can start buying ships, equipment, stat boosts, etc., ( and in this case "gold ammo") that everyone has a problem. CCP is in a bad spot financially right now because they have bitten off more than they can chew. They are developing 2 other games at the moment in conjunction with continuing to run EVE, with their only income stream being EVE. And they took out a lot of loans to develop these 2 other games which are due up in September/October, but those games are not out yet, and are not generating income. Thus their only income stream is EVE, so they were trying to find ways to take advantage of the whole free-2-play model that some new games are using by introducing micro-transactions. The problem is the game isn't free-2-play and the player base didn't like the fact that they were seeing a their in-game market possibly get destroyed by having CCP add an additional way to buy items (i.e. direct purchase and not thru the current in-game systems which are controlled by the players themselves, who mine the minerals, refine the minerals, research the blue-prints, manufacturer the components, manufacture the item, haul the items to market hubs, and sell the items on the market, all of which takes time, required significant investment in both skills and assets to perform. And now CCP was just going to update the database and "poof" add magic items into the game). This would destroy the game market as there multiple prices for the same item would not be tolerated, and would get correct via market forces, but the only market force that is able to change is the one run by players, as CCP's prices would be whatever they decide worked best for their quarterly statements, which means that it would drive a lot of players out of the market, people who have invested billions and even trillions of in game money to make the items they are selling and have certain fixed in-game costs in creating the item, while CCP just updates a database.... Thus the revolt.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100640)

Some players are not going to be able to compete against CCP, but there is no game without CCP.

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100136)

Well, as others have pointed out, most EVE players sink some cash upfront, then by participating in and profiting from the in-game economy, play for "free" (i.e. paying for their subscription with in-game currency) indefinitely. So if you understand buying a game, or renting one (ala WoW), that should make sense, too -- you're paying money to have fun.

As far as how the exact mechanics of "paying to have fun" skews into "buying virtual property" vs. "renting game time", that aspect's part of the particular appeal of EVE, a big chunk of it is that it _is_ a real virtual economy, with real virtual money and virtual goods acting practically like their real-world equivalents (including real stakes of losing your property in combat or your money in investments) -- for people with a high economic geek factor, that's a fantastic experiment that (as long as TPTB don't fuck it up) is a lot of fun just to be a part of. People who don't go that nuts for economics are less likely to play it vs. a strict fee per month game, because the whole economic layer is not fun for them, but work. Nothing wrong with either set of people...

Re:Don't understand spending time/money on game as (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100652)

You don't spend real-world money on in-game items. The only thing you have to pay for is the monthly subscription.

This is talking about someone who accrued a shitload of in-game currency, completely in-game. There was no real-world currency involved, except the article's comparison to $50,000 in subscription fees(because you can trade in-game currency for game time).

Banks in EVE are a sucker's bet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37099594)

Banks only work when there are laws and enforcement of said laws. What rube would give his money to someone who isn't obligated to hand it back -- and there is no recourse? In the real world you could confiscate the bank's holdings, but in the logic of a computer game, you cannot obtain assets of another player unless they give it to you.

Re:Banks in EVE are a sucker's bet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100248)

In the real world, you can only confiscate anything if you have more guns, or if you have someone with more guns on your side. There are a class of heavily armed groups who exist principally to settle disputes between parties of disparate strengths along more "fair" lines than simple stronger-wins, by allowing either party to appeal to the group, which will then decide and enforce the "correct" outcome. These groups go by various names, such as "government", "mafia", or "yakuza", and share a universal intolerance for other such groups operating within their territory.

Why do you take one of these groups for granted in real life, but assume there aren't any number of such groups in-game?

Re:Banks in EVE are a sucker's bet (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100900)

Because.... the bankers simply transfer the funds to an anonymous alt... and then simply don't undock their banker toon for a few weeks.

Silly fool.

Every "investment" in EVE is a scam. (4, Insightful)

harl (84412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099610)

Every money making venture in Eve is scam. If it doesn't start out as one it turns into one when the pile of cash crosses a certain threshold.

There is no safe investment in Eve. We are all crooks.

I think the only reason these things continue to work is player churn.

Re:Every "investment" in EVE is a scam. (4, Interesting)

Rigrig (922033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099738)

FTFA:

Along the way, 345.18 billion ISK was paid out to investors as interest to make sure the scheme kept going. Another 452.72 billion was withdrawn by worried investors before the company shut down; that left 1,034 billion ISK in the hands of the company's owners.

I always wonder how many of these worried investors recognized the scheme for what it was right away, and decided to try and make some profit out of it themselves.

Re:Every "investment" in EVE is a scam. (1)

harl (84412) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099888)

A very small number would be my guess but I totally agree that there are some.

Re:Every "investment" in EVE is a scam. (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100664)

There's always PVP, using the scams only as a funding method for said PVP. Then it's still fun.

Re:Every "investment" in EVE is a scam. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37101220)

well, mostly true.

There are legit investments and loans going on between corp-members and between alliance members.
There is still a non-trivial risk of fraud but the fraudster will be booted from corp so only people who are planning to leave a corp anyway will scam you.

Scammer's writeup (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37099674)

If you want to hear it from the people who created the Ponzi Scam

http://www.evenews24.com/2011/08/14/the-1-trillion-isk-ponzi-phaser-inc-speaks/

They did a write up for this eve centric news site.

In other news... (2)

operagost (62405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099722)

Someone pilfered a bastard sword, golden dwarven ring, and 150,000 gold coins from another player on my DikuMUD yesterday.

Re:In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100224)

That was only my first stop. I ended up renting with about 4 times that before I decided to take a break. The people were asking for it, they were just holding their gold in their inventory (not even in a worn container) and didn't have notice on.

redux (2)

theghost (156240) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099734)

I read the same stories over and over again about EVE it really shouldn't be considered news anymore. It's Monday: babies were born, people died, people got scammed in EVE - business as usual.

The people who are serious about that game are there precisely to play with exactly those sorts of behavior. I feel a little sorry for new players who don't know that yet, but even the most basic research about the game would clue you in. What other games would call griefing and fraud are the real game of EVE - all that crap about spaceships is just to keep the marks distracted while the sharks nibble away at them.

And (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099814)

If you send that ISK to me, I promise I will send you back three times as much!

EVE IRL (2)

Fuzzums (250400) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099846)

I don't know anything about EVE, but it sounds like life and Wall street.
Everybody gets fucked and and robbed by a few bad guys and after 2 weeks we continue playing...

Re:EVE IRL (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100916)

Except for in EVE... everyone is a bad guy.

Wow, that's terrible (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37099938)

$50K is like ... what real scammers make in a day, or in an hour. The actual tragedy is that ingame currency actually has an OOG value because like most MMO's, EVE has succumbed to the temptation of RMT.

Re:Wow, that's terrible (2)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100692)

There is no real conversion between EVE I$K and real money other than the one players put on it, just like any other MMO game. It is against the TOS to actually buy or sell I$K for real money, though they give you a way to legitimately do it by buying game time cards and 'selling' those for in-game currency.

A 30-day time code will net you between 200Million I$K and 600Million I$K depending on where and when you sell it in the game. Like everything in EVE, there are wide market fluctuations for even the game time items.

50k? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37099952)

What's that in Monocles?

How many Monocles per Library of Congress, even?

Re:50k? (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100580)

700.

Correct me if im wrong but... (2)

Jibekn (1975348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100040)

Didn't the last 'big' scam in EVE go well past the 100,000 USD mark? This is not the biggest...

Re:Correct me if im wrong but... (1)

Majkow (604785) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100512)

no that was how much RL $ the RMT site that got hacked was making. last few corp thefts were in the 800+ billion isk range

Re:Correct me if im wrong but... (2)

Jibekn (1975348) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100946)

Ahh, you're right, I thought the EIB was into the trillions, but they only pulled off about 800 billion. However, looking at old news storys they seem to value the 800 billion around 170,000 USD mark, has the ISK to USD market got way down in the last few years, or was that just a sensationalist claim?

Oh my (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37100644)

Wow. This must be really big news for people who play video games (otherwise known as FAGGOTS).

Scamming is the only true fun in EVE. (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#37100986)

PVP: a slugflest the outcome of which is basically predetermined from the beginning of the engagement.

No Captain Kirk ramming the crippled ship down the giant evil reefer's maw, no Adama jumping the battlestar into the atmosphere underneath the Cylon over watch, no hiding behind an asteroid, no jamming their comms, no collision damage... no skill or cunning at all. Once someone with a better fit scrams you, you can take your hands of the keyboard and the outcome will be the same.

I should be able to punch a hole in a faction BS in my Velator when entering warp. At 3 AU/sec that BS should vaporize.

So instead of addressing this complete lack of playability, what does CCP do? On no, not fixing the game mechanics. We get walking in stations.

Bearparts

Re:Scamming is the only true fun in EVE. (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37101418)

And yet, you still play. Get out while you can. It's never going to get better. If you stay, you're just one of the suckers.

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