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EVE Online Rocked by 700 Billon ISK Scam

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the that's-a-lot-of-space-tobacco dept.

154

Martin Spamer writes "The space MMOG EVE Online, where mining rock plays a big part of the economy, has recently been hit by a huge in-game scam. The aftermath of the EIB scam... was 700 Billion ISK, which might raise some $119,000 USD if sold on Ebay. (The current conversion rate is 100M ISK to 18 USD.) These events have prompted claims of player deaths, death threats, and speculation about What Would You Do With 700 Billion ISK?"

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Er... (3, Insightful)

rscoggin (845029) | about 8 years ago | (#15966161)

Can someone explain the scam? The forum link has very little information and presumes the reader has background...

Re:Er... (1, Informative)

gbrayut (715117) | about 8 years ago | (#15966178)

Quick google search found this link with more info: http://www.digg.com/gaming_news/Largest_MMO_Heist_ Ever_EVE_Online_700bn_ISK_130_000_USD [digg.com]

Re:Er... (2, Informative)

generic-man (33649) | about 8 years ago | (#15966808)

Link to the article [eve-online.com] , not the blog.

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Re:Er... (5, Informative)

LotsOfPhil (982823) | about 8 years ago | (#15966203)

It took a while, but... [eve-online.com]
1) Player Cally starts the EVE Investment Bank in early 2006
2) A lot of drama goes on in the mean time with people sticking up for the EIB and others calling it a scam
3) Cally's owner decides it's been long enough and cleans out the bank, netting around 700bil in ISK and another 100bil in assets
That's really all the high points.

Re:Er... (1)

rossifer (581396) | about 8 years ago | (#15966262)

I personally like the part where he describes himself as being a clinical sociopath [eve-online.com] (the "about me" portion). Lots of dead giveaways in there. The fact that people like that exist is one of the scarier things about human nature.

I've managed to identify a few people like that from my acquaintances through the years. Every once in a while I get the willies wondering if there have been other sociopaths that I didn't spot.

Regards,
Ross

Re:Er... (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 8 years ago | (#15966410)

I enjoyed the part where he tells people he's smarter than them, then says, "for all intensive purposes" in the middle of several grammar mistakes.

The sad part is that one day he'll be president.

Re:Er... (1)

dreddnott (555950) | about 8 years ago | (#15966460)

Did you spell your name 'CosmeticLobotamy' on purpose?

Re:Er... (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 8 years ago | (#15966849)

I never claimed I was bright. At least not recently.

I was drunk, a'ight? Anyway, I usually just go by "155360".

Re:Er... (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | about 8 years ago | (#15967206)

Maybe it was only for the purposes that were really intense which he cared about.

Re:Er... (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 8 years ago | (#15966227)

Sorry, all I could get is this:
"
500 - Internal Error

The server was unable to process your request.

Support personel has been notified, no further action is needed."
And from the second link in TFA:
"This thread does not exist."

Apparently they have more problems than a scam, I can smell server smoke from here!

I don't know if it's related to the taking over of accounts of other MMORPG's or not.
My buddy's son had his WoW account hijacked last week, totally wiping out all of his character's inventory- he found his account for sale on ebay after I jokingly told him to look there for it, LOL!, and reported it to the WoW admin's. I think he got everything straightened out now, but have not had a chance to get the details from him yet.

I guess gold farming wasn't working fast enough for some of the greedy bastards.

*sarcasm warning* Probably disgrunted **AA lawyers/exec's- those MMORPG's are keeping everyone out of the theaters and record stores! *end sarcasm*

Re:Er... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 8 years ago | (#15967273)

CCP just released a MAJOR patch yesterday. (Unrelated to the scam, I've heard a little about it but since I wasn't involved didn't know any of the details.) Needless to say, the day after patch day isn't exactly the game's most stable time. :)

Re:Er... (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | about 8 years ago | (#15967797)

Nothing to to with RL account hijacking.

Eve is a trust game where there are no police should you default.

Pyramid Scheme (4, Informative)

Martin Spamer (244245) | about 8 years ago | (#15966243)

The 'Eve Interstellar Bank' was essentially a pyramid scheme masquerading as an in-game Investment Bank. It payed a dividend that steadily rose from around 9% a month to 16% to build confidence then when the investments stopped coming in closed shop.

Re:Pyramid Scheme (2, Informative)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15966466)

Wrong answer about it being in-game. There is nothing in-game to support banking, and everything was done by people just handing over unsecured amounts of ISK. Such a good idea. :P

But hey, there's a lot of suckers in the world that just wanna 'get rich quick'.

Re:Pyramid Scheme (3, Insightful)

Peter Cooper (660482) | about 8 years ago | (#15966626)

There's nothing really in real life that inherently 'supports banking'. Putting your money in the bank is, for all intents and purposes, like handing over unsecured amounts of money. Of course, laws and institutions have built up around this to provide a more secure framework, but at the end of the day.. you're putting something at risk.

Re:Pyramid Scheme (1)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15967429)

Yeah, that's why I always though this Eve banking and stock market thing was a little silly. All you have is trust - if you get scammed, you're hosed and there's nothing that can be done about it. Once that's done it's theirs in Eve.

In the real world and banking, there's stuff like laws, etc, and you're money is "secured"/"insured" etc. The equivalent of this would be the Contract system that Eve's had in the drawing board for a while and is putting in Real Soon Now(tm). Formalized and game mechanic enforced Contracts.

I'm sure there'll still be scammers, etc around after though - such is the way of the world. At least Contracts will provide more secure options though, just like signing a contract in the real world when doing banking. =)

Re:Pyramid Scheme (1)

rachit (163465) | about 8 years ago | (#15966869)

You mean its like US Government treasury bonds?

Re:Pyramid Scheme (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about 8 years ago | (#15967291)

Except US government treasury bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the citizens. They are obligated to tax us in order to repay them.

Thats one thing that makes municiple bonds attractive to some. Especialy if they are from a different country.

The guy who ran the scam's video can be found here (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966374)

The guy who ran the scam's video bragging about it can be found here: http://dl.qj.net/index.php?pg=12&fid=9542 [qj.net] .


Personally I think this is what makes the game EVE more facinating than others.


I hope the guys running it don't step in, but rather I hope the players can in-game construct an appropriate response to the guy.


It'll be very interesting to see if this springs up new insurance companies in EVE to protect against it -- or perhaps a new type of organization to certify banks -- or, etc. In EVE the possiblities seem endless.

big $, small thrill (1, Informative)

smartaleq (905491) | about 8 years ago | (#15966184)

It may be the biggest scam in Eve so far, but it has far less flair that some of the others. Plus, the perptrator was a prick :-(

Re:big $, small thrill (-1, Flamebait)

jandrese (485) | about 8 years ago | (#15966214)

I thought EVE was a MMO designed to attract pricks like that. I really don't understand why people like that game.

Re:big $, small thrill (1, Informative)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 8 years ago | (#15966230)

People like that game because it doesn't try to hold your hand and force you into a linear grind like other MMOs do, you are free to do whatever you can to gain riches and fame in game. The choice is yours as to be "good" or "evil".

Re:big $, small thrill (2, Insightful)

aafiske (243836) | about 8 years ago | (#15966428)

Because it's refreshing to play in a world that has base rules set, and then you win or lose by your own cleverness or stupidity. Your reputation matters and you can get blown up for being a big-mouthed jackass.

In a real world where everyone sues everyone for every imagined injustice, where games are full of people whining about others robbing them and complaining to the GM, it's a relief to play a game where the response to a whine is 'you learned your lesson, don't be so stupid in the future.'

Meh (2, Insightful)

StarKruzr (74642) | about 8 years ago | (#15966547)

The appalling dearth of PvE and story-driven content in EVE bores me. Plus it seems that "you learned your lesson, don't be so stupid in the future" is kind of a worthless thing to say to someone when you can potentially be busted down to next-to-nothing for making one little mistake, making it next to impossible to get back to where you used to be in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966684)

So does mommy hold your hand, wipe your butt, and tell you that you have been a good widdle boy when your sheets are dry in the morning?

Eve, unlike other online games, requires of it's players a degree of self reliance. You can strike out on your own, creating your own corp. You can stay in the noob corp if that floats in your boat. You can join existing corps and do mining, production, run missions, run complexes. You can venture into losec space and hunt pirates. You can become a pirate, trying to ply your trade why not running down your security rating to such a level you cannot fly through certain sections of space.

If your gaming experience has to be driven by a "storyline" then try some of the other, lamer, online gasmes.

Re:Meh (2, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15966701)

So does mommy hold your hand, wipe your butt, and tell you that you have been a good widdle boy when your sheets are dry in the morning?
I'm going to assume you have no insurance whatsoever?

Re:big $, small thrill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15967827)


you giev missl or bump?

(eh.. its an inside joke)

Re:big $, small thrill (1)

jjohnson (62583) | about 8 years ago | (#15966733)

Like others said, some like the Wild West atmosphere where there's no protection, it's all about skill and brains.

Having said that, there's lot of safe space to play in for a long time that never requires brutal PvP action, and you're under no obligation to invest in scams like EIB. Carebears, as they're called, get along just as well as pirates.

Re:big $, small thrill (1)

dan828 (753380) | about 8 years ago | (#15966235)

I wonder how this will all shake out...I mean the game's EULA apparently allows this sort of thing, but seeing as how whatever the hell it was he stole does have an actual real cash value, might law enforcement get interested? $130K isn't chump change, and you can't use a EULA to circumvent the law.

Re:big $, small thrill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966293)

$130k worth of...an integer owned by CCP that players are not supposed to sell anyway? No dice.

Re:big $, small thrill (1)

Kesch (943326) | about 8 years ago | (#15966308)

So far society have yet to consider online possesions as true property so he is safe from the law as well. (As long as he doesn't omit $130k in ebay auctions on his next tax return).

However, cases such as these where online property can be worth substantial amounts of money will probably end up in the books getting rewritten at some point in the not too distant future.

Re:big $, small thrill (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966358)

How?

1. There's no guarantee that the dude's going to sell it on eBay. Assuming he doesn't attempt to ditch it through TOS-violating activities such as selling it for real life money, he's not doing anything wrong. See:

2. EVE isn't every other MMOG. There's no handholding, and short of scamming on activities that involve real life money (character transfers, game timecard purchases) or violate game mechanics, caveat emptor is the rule. That said, it's not as horrible as some make it out to be - day to day trading is very safe. 99% of everything is sold on the 'normal' market, where the only thing to worry about is not understanding the difference between a comma and a period. The 'escrow' system is a bit less safe, but unless you're a moron and buy things without looking at them (would you bid on an eBay auction on the title of the auction alone? no?), you're perfectly safe. (Indeed, they're presently banning people exploiting a bug that makes blueprint copies (not so valuable) appear as originals (valuable)).

3. It's a game. The fact of the matter is, virtual items are not dealt with via modern law. In the future, they very well might be, but presently, as far as the law is concerned, there is no scam, no theft, no anything. Go before a judge complaining about your loss of a few million ISK while saying, 'actual real cash value' and you'd be laughed out of court.

Re:big $, small thrill (1)

Shambhu (198415) | about 8 years ago | (#15967539)

3. It's a game. The fact of the matter is, virtual items are not dealt with via modern law. In the future, they very well might be, but presently, as far as the law is concerned, there is no scam, no theft, no anything. Go before a judge complaining about your loss of a few million ISK while saying, 'actual real cash value' and you'd be laughed out of court.


IANAL, but the law is subtler than you think. Quite apart from what legislation exists, or even what precedent exists, judges will use their discretion. I don't know how good a chance a plaintiff would have of showing that a fraud was perpetrated, but I really don't think it would be open and shut.

People sometimes think of the law in terms of the rules to a board game. It's not like that. It covers things like intent and indirect damage in addition to the clear-cut technicalities.

I'm not saying this guy would lose in court, just that if someone brought a suit alleging 130K in fraud, then I don't think they would be laughed out. As long as they resisted the urge to cosplay it.

Re:big $, small thrill (1)

nacturation (646836) | about 8 years ago | (#15967494)

seeing as how whatever the hell it was he stole does have an actual real cash value, might law enforcement get interested? $130K isn't chump change, and you can't use a EULA to circumvent the law.

In EVE, it's not illegal to steal someone's ISK. The fact that the ISK can be sold for real-world money is irrelevant.
 

Obvious (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966187)

What Would You Do With 700 Billion ISK?

Trade it for a frist post, of course.

Re:Obvious (4, Funny)

ClamIAm (926466) | about 8 years ago | (#15966898)

Two chicks at the same time.

(sorry)

Apparently.... (4, Insightful)

kinglink (195330) | about 8 years ago | (#15966212)

There's like 30 forum posts I can find googling about the EIB scam. but I can't find anyone talking about what it is. Just some dude named Cally screwed a lot of people, and apparently it was legit because of voting or something?

All I have to say is kudos for getting this story on slashdot since I don't even believe we can call it news. Let's try to at least explain the random stuff we are putting together, or at least keep the topics on stuff a little more mainstream then Eve if we don't want to spend the time actually putting an explination of the facts together.

Re:Apparently.... (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | about 8 years ago | (#15966250)

I don't even believe we can call it news.
I think the news part is that the 700B ISK is worth around $100k and that it is not an offense to do that in Eve, but considered part of the game.

Re:Apparently.... (0, Redundant)

kinglink (195330) | about 8 years ago | (#15966291)

Unfortunatly while this is news, the article doesn't talk about the fact that it's not an offense. My point is more that the article is barely news (citing forum posts), not that the action is. Hell any action, real world or virtual, is news.

Re:Apparently.... (3, Funny)

rokel (986883) | about 8 years ago | (#15966487)

Yeah, making over $100k off a scam in a video game has no place on a site like this. Really. :P

Re:Apparently.... (2, Informative)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15966513)

"apparently it was legit because of voting or something?"

I'm not sure about how you'd define 'legit' in this case. There are no in game functions available to allow for player run banks. Basically, you can whip up a web site, just ask people to transfer you ISK, and sha-zam. You're a bank. People got fooled because they wanted to get fooled. I've never touched any of the so-called Eve "Banks", and I don't intend to util the formal contract system goes in (if then).

As all of the "banking" organization took/takes place outside Eve Online, I'm not sure that there's much that the admin there can do besides just start banning people for scamming. There are systems in place to just give other people money/items/etc with, but none to 'bank'.

There IS a formalized ingame enforced contract system coming in soon(tm), that should make playing around with larger amounts of cash a lot easier though.

Re:Apparently.... (1)

volkris (694) | about 8 years ago | (#15966899)

There are no in game functions available to allow for player run banks.

Can you transfer money from other people into your own posession? Can you transfer it back out to other people? Guess what... That's all the functions you need to run a bank.

Re:Apparently.... (1)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15967386)

You cannot transfar ISK (money) from another character's account to your own.

You can only just give money/items to another character with no assurances of anything. There's the usual secure trading way to do this. Once you do this though - it's theirs.

Everything's done "off the books" as far as the game itself, game mechanics, and this so called "banking" was and is concerned - until the Contract system that's in the works goes in.

Sure, you can trace the money - but if the other person says that you just gave it to them then you're hosed. Once you give something to someone in the game - it's theirs. You can't tie any game mechanic strings or conditions on it and/or expect anything "official" to be done about it.

What was the scam? (-1, Redundant)

Wind_Walker (83965) | about 8 years ago | (#15966219)

I've spent a bit of time trying to figure out exactly what the scam was (since the original post didn't tell us) and it seems that this guy, Dentara Rast (in-game Cally) ran some sort of Eve Intergalactic Bank (EIB) which presumably did all the things a bank normally does. Deposits, withdrawls, interest, loans, etc.

According to him, he began it as a legit business. Somewhere along the line the guy decides to not be legit and begins embezzling funds, then just recently decides to close up shop entirely and keep all the money for himself.

Hopefully somebody who plays Eve can correct any details I may have missed.

Re:What was the scam? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 years ago | (#15966339)

I've spent a bit of time trying to figure out exactly what the scam was (since the original post didn't tell us) and it seems that this guy, Dentara Rast (in-game Cally) ran some sort of Eve Intergalactic Bank (EIB) which presumably did all the things a bank normally does. Deposits, withdrawls, interest, loans, etc.

EVE Online has an incredible economy that would be very good training for real world brokerage. Therefore it doesn't surprise me that the same scams as occur in real life could occur in EVE. I guess a lot of the scams that people pull off in real life from pyramid schemes, MLMs, ponzis, insider trading etc. could all have their counterparts on EVE. The moral of this tale, is don't be dumb enough to fall for them in the first place. Anything that looks too good to be true, is too good to be true.

Re:What was the scam? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 years ago | (#15966431)

Won't the Admins just zero out the fraudster's "bank account" and be done with it?

Re:What was the scam? (1)

John Nowak (872479) | about 8 years ago | (#15966503)

Nope -- There's nothing against scamming other players like this in the rules. It is part of the game.

Re:What was the scam? (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | about 8 years ago | (#15966627)

What good would that do? All the customers of his bank already lost their money. Also, if he already ebayed off the money to many other players, then it doesn't do any good. Returning all the money to their original owners doesn't seem feasible either, he had to have thousands of clients (you try going through a years worth of server logs :).

Re:What was the scam? (5, Informative)

Snowmit (704081) | about 8 years ago | (#15966661)

I play eve.

Phase 1: Cally opens up EIB and does an IPO on it. Many people get excited, lots of people invest, lots more people begin to store saving there.
Phase 2: Cally builds reputation and Bank starts to seem like one of the cornerstones of Eve's burgeoning investment market. To this day it's not clear how much of that was legitimate and how much was pyramid goodness.
Phase 3: A character named Currin Trading runs a scam and makes off with 30 billion ISK (the largest scam ever at the time)
Phase 4: Word gets out that Currin Trading was a scam, Currin Trading posts a very long explanation of the whole scam and ends it with another shocking revelation: EIB is also a scam! He recognizes all the signs because it's so much like his own scam.
Phase 5: Forum drama.
Phase 6: Insane forum drama.
Phase 7: Cally's faked a) hospitalization, b) incarceration c) death in very short sequence.
Phase 8: EIB is revelaed to be a scam, Dentara Rast is revelaed to be Cally's main (players can have up to three character per account) much gloating occurs. He puts a billion ISK bounty on his own head and goes out to fly PVP with the most expensive ships and equipment he can find (in Eve, if your ship blows up you lose it entirely).
Phase 9: Slashdot!

It should be noted that scams are an accepted part of the Eve game mechanics. Eve is ruthelessly PvP in combat and in the marketplace. It seems as though this was an entirely legitimate (in an EULA sense of the word) scam and that Dentara Rast will get off free and clear.

Re:What was the scam? (1)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15967491)

That's how I've scanned most of this too, although in much more detail as I've never done any Eve "Banking" and won't until Contracts. All above board "in the EULA sense" as banking cannot be done without this kind of risk with current Eve mechanics. You either give something to someone to do with what they will or you don't.

I'm looking forward to Contracts though, should make some things lots easier. =)

The Scam (4, Informative)

sinij (911942) | about 8 years ago | (#15966225)

Details can be found here [eve-online.com] and here [eve-online.com] Scammer used basic Ponzi scheme - set up a bank that gave interest on investments. Used new investments to pay off interest. Eventually, like all pyrmid schemes, it run out of investors so scammer cashed out and made "I won Eve" video. This worked since there are quite a few legitimate buisness in EVE, mostly pawnshops for T2 BPO's, that give good returns.

Re:The Scam (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 8 years ago | (#15967348)

Actually, so far I have not seen any indication that it actually was a Ponzi scheme.

According to the guy who perpetrated the scheme (he's come clean, so why would he lie), EIB started out legitimate. It's perfectly believable, there are plenty of ways that a shrewd investor can make money in EVE. The best ways ingame to make lots of money are very capital-intensive.

In the end, Dentara Rast (the main character of EIB's founder Cally) decided that rather than running an investment bank, they just wanted to take all the money. Many (including myself) say that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy as soon as the scam accusations started.

Think something more along the lines of Enron than Ponzi.

Re:The Scam (1)

captn ecks (525113) | about 8 years ago | (#15967988)

So you don't have to look it up in the thread:

1) Player Cally starts the EVE Investment Bank in early 2006
2) A lot of drama goes on in the mean time with people sticking up for the EIB and others calling it a scam
3) Cally's owner decides it's been long enough and cleans out the bank, netting around 700bil in ISK and another 100bil in assets

I love it (5, Interesting)

Kesch (943326) | about 8 years ago | (#15966279)

It's interesting to watch all the scams that go on in Eve, I consider it a great social experiment.

There are three main features of Eve that create this situation.

1. Easy-to-use player run capitalist system. (It's easy for anyone to start up and manage a business)
2. Zero laws against corporate fraud (As pure as capitalism gets)
3. Anonymity from victims. (It's a lot easier to rationalize ripping off people in a virtual world.)

Combined together these factors have lead to some amazing corporate frauds and espionage.

I don't have time/effort myself to invest in Eve, but it's still fun to read what determined Eve players go to lengths to achieve.

(A thought occured to me while typing this. Someone should offer some sort of contract in Eve. Either it can be done through CCP with GMs backing it and they could even charge for it, or a sufficiently large and militarized corporation could sell contract enforcement. Maybe this has already been done, otherwise feel free to steal this idea and try to make some isk with it.)

Re:I love it (1)

cloricus (691063) | about 8 years ago | (#15966305)

And this is why I love EVE. It is a true mmorpg in many ways and this is one of them...If you are smart enough to scam people and you do it using the ingame restrictions (eg not using any bugs) CCP will not step in and crush you, in fact it loosely looks like they encourage it. Though if this guy tries to sell the 6 billion for cash on ebay or similar I can see him being stomped on quickly by the GMs.

Idiots and every day people lose money and life goes on. :)

Re:I love it (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 years ago | (#15966450)

If you are smart enough to scam people and you do it using the ingame restrictions (eg not using any bugs) CCP will not step in and crush you
What's "smart" about it? Free marketeers think they hate laws, what they forget is that the market is a system of laws, without which there is no market. If there is no contract law in this game, then constructs like banks will simply be untenable, since there's no reason to think the other guy will hold up his end of the bargain. End result, no economy of interest. How is that good?

Re:I love it (3, Interesting)

Taimoor (891521) | about 8 years ago | (#15966681)

In this case, you can just as easily use military power to enforce it. Think about the mafia... they don't go around suing guys for ripping off $100,000... they break their legs.

--Nick

Re:I love it (2, Interesting)

cloricus (691063) | about 8 years ago | (#15966882)

Trust is a big part of EVE and it is very hard to earn considering most peoples introduction to the game goes some thing like this: work work work, o0o0o new ship, ship gets blown up, life sucks, work work work, o0o0o new ship, ship gets blown up, life sucks, work work work, o0o0o new ship, ship gets blown up. This continue until finally you can start to hold your own against other in game players who are out to get you - pirates - and/or you join up with others in corporations where every one is equal in there want to survive and their love for their shiny ship not to get blown up. This environment creates a reasonable amount of trust in those you are allied with. Outside of that there are constructs like reputation which go along way, just look at the ISS - they are practically safe in the game as every one respects their wish to be neutral and they haven't stuffed people over. So even without contracts and the like (to which there are some forms, though they aren't overly enforceable outside of other in game dynamics) the game manages to continue and push into all areas. And it should keep going nicely as I know, from highschool accounting, the world worked before formal legal contracts.

Re:I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15967337)

It's strange to say, but a criminal organization who wants to stay in operation also has to protect it's name. They need customers too. A bookie has to make payouts, a drug dealer or fence of stolen goods has to deliver the genuine article if they want repeat business (which they do.)

If every organization operated with no rules, just threats and brute force it would be Somalia or Afghanistan. There would be no economy.

Re:I love it (2, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 years ago | (#15967849)

Think about the mafia... they don't go around suing guys for ripping off $100,000... they break their legs.
All law ultimately boils down to military or police force. Just see what happens if you start out with a minor infraction, say driving 10 mph over the limit, and then ignore or resist the progressively more forceful efforts by the government to make you comply. As for the mafia? Internally, it is not anarchy. It couldn't thrive without a code of conduct that amounts to "law." At the same time, its methods would never work on the scale of an entire society. They are leeches, they can't survive without productive victims to exploit. Look at the corrupt governments around the world, those nations do not thrive.

Re:I love it (1)

volkris (694) | about 8 years ago | (#15966921)

The market is not a system of laws. It's a creature that is born whenever there is a supply and demand of various products.

Some laws help the market to function more efficiently. People are more likely to take out contracts when there is a device in place to enforce them. Some laws make the market less efficient. In the end, though, laws only affect markets; they do not define them.

I love it-Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15967341)

I disagree. The thing to keep in mind is that laws doesn't equal government. Laws can be more subtle than that.

Re:I love it (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 years ago | (#15967472)

I guess it all depends how narrowly you defend "market." I suppose there would always be some bartering. But even the idea of property itself is a legal construct.

Re:I love it (1)

drDugan (219551) | about 8 years ago | (#15967855)

Property is just a social convention. We don't have laws that define what the idea of property is -- we have lots that define who owns what -- but property itself, the idea is just a common norm we all have bought into.

[[ N.B. the world could work a whole lot better once we get away from this notion ]]

Re:I love it (1)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15967457)

"Market" transactions are secure and game mechanic enforced. Trading between two people, your typical "trade" window, is also secure and enforced. Your "hangar" where you store stuff, is private. There's also a secure "Escrow" system that's going to be replaced by a much more complex "Contract" system coming in the future (and has been on the drawing board for quite a while).

Eve's economy is quite fine. I'm a little curious as to why the dollar value was placed on the ISK though in the submission. As the submitter almost must know to know what he posted, buying or selling ISK for real life currency will get the game account holder (real names here) banned, and the ISK removed from the system. Or so CCP says (repeatedly and loudly).

Re:I love it (1)

snuf23 (182335) | about 8 years ago | (#15967751)

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't trading ISK for game time cards allowed? And couldn't you then sell those game time cards on eBay or something fairly anonymously?

Re:I love it (1)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15967817)

Aaarg. Yeah it is, blast your eyes, and now that I recall it I dislike that "exception" even more. That and I think selling/transferring an actual account unit (set of three characters, one billing bit) is permissible also - but I'd really have to check around to be sure. I've never been interested in such.

Frankly, I wish they'd get outlaw any RMT transactions at all. Of course, there'd always be that black market - you can chance it, but if you ever get caught, you're banned and everything is purged would hopefully become the norm.

I can see the corporate appeal ($$$) behind allowing or just looking the other way toward RMT transactions though. I guess I just like the appeal of starting fresh in a game setting and not being able to buy your way into whatever you want. Corporate greed ftw. =(

Re:I love it (1)

CptPicard (680154) | about 8 years ago | (#15966379)

If only all the Libertarians just moved into a virtual world to create their wet dream survival of the fittest dystopias and let us decent people build something better together in reality... one can dream :-)

Re:I love it (1)

dootbran (467662) | about 8 years ago | (#15966593)

If only all the Libertarians just moved into a virtual world to create their wet dream survival of the fittest dystopias and let us decent people build something better together in reality... and remove all motivation for hard work and invention.

Fixed :)

Star Trek rots the brain.

Re:I love it (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#15966710)

If you need monetary motivation you don't really like it in the first place. Star Trek rots the brain not for its political views but because they don't know the meaning of continuity.

Re:I love it (1)

volkris (694) | about 8 years ago | (#15966937)

Maybe you did like it, just not enough to starve for.

Re:I love it (1)

xero314 (722674) | about 8 years ago | (#15967461)

If only all the Libertarians... and all other people lacking in self motivation... just moved into a virtual world to create their wet dream survival of the fittest dystopias and let us decent people build something better together in reality.

I always snicker a little when people think that all inventions where brought about by monetary motivation. The number of altruistic inventors is to long to list, but names like Carver, Turing, Torvalds, Cierva, Hadley, Lun, Einstein, Tesla, Archimedes and Pythagoras would certainly be there. Most inventions stem from the motivation of making life easier or better, be it for oneself or others. Heck the computers we are all using to type these post came from that same motivation. Computers where considered toys no one would pay for, for quite some time.

If you are cynical and lazy then you will see money as the only motivator. Good thing the brightest tend to be or optimistic than that.

Re:I love it (1)

Shardis (198372) | about 8 years ago | (#15966543)

A thought occured to me while typing this. Someone should offer some sort of contract in Eve. Either it can be done through CCP with GMs backing it and they could even charge for it, or a sufficiently large and militarized corporation could sell contract enforcement. Maybe this has already been done, otherwise feel free to steal this idea and try to make some isk with it.)

There's a formal contract system going in that's going to replace the current 'Escrow' system - it's been in dev blogs for quite a while.

I love it-Being Branded. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966904)

"Combined together these factors have lead to some amazing corporate frauds and espionage."

Yup. The virtual world is becoming more like the real one [nooface.net] .

Re:I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966979)

I don't really agree that 'corporate fraud is as pure as capitalism gets'.

For a capitalist, getting an item today and promising to deliver compensation (payment) for it tomorrow, then not doing it (i.e. fraud) is no different from simply breaking into someone's house and taking it. As such, indefensible. It is diametrically opposite from what capitalists also ofte are accused for - not caring about poor people, only caring about protecting their God-given right to property and not to pay taxes. How can they at the same time be hell-bent on protecting every scrap of their private property from theft, _and_ support corporate theft being legal?

Maybe you were more looking for 'radical darwinism'? But the number of libertarians/objectivists/capitalists/whomever who propose that theft through force or fraud should be legal is impossibly small.

The parallel would be to say that most communist-sympathisers feel that the state should decide based on a mathematical formula which day/month a woman should be impregnated for the greater good of society, then forcing it to happen. While this is a potential consequence of emphasising the greater good for the commune, it is so extreme few mean it to happen or claim that it would.

Re:I love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15967155)

(A thought occured to me while typing this. Someone should offer some sort of contract in Eve. Either it can be done through CCP with GMs backing it and they could even charge for it, or a sufficiently large and militarized corporation could sell contract enforcement. Maybe this has already been done, otherwise feel free to steal this idea and try to make some isk with it.)

You're re-inventing government (or the Mafia, it equates to the same thing). Just be prepared for the libertarians and the anarchists to band together and take it down.

Re:I love it (1)

MBraynard (653724) | about 8 years ago | (#15967358)

2. Zero laws against corporate fraud (As pure as capitalism gets)

Please cite how this is capitalism? Feel free to peruse Hayach or A. Smith for evidence.

Or was this just something you learned at Slashdot University?

Re:I love it (1)

duffahtolla (535056) | about 8 years ago | (#15967843)

Adam Smith criticized monopolies, tariffs, duties, and other state enforced restrictions of his time and believed that the market is the most fair and efficient arbitrator of resources.

The GP did not equate lack of laws with capitalism, but rather stated that lack of laws (state enforced restrictions?) gave one a purer capitalism. At least thats how I read it.

Ponzi... (3, Informative)

mythosaz (572040) | about 8 years ago | (#15966354)

...the scam was your basic Ponzi scheme.

Get investors to your "bank" and pay them a high rate of return on their investments.
Use your "success" to get bigger investors. Use their capital to pay out your early investors.
Get more even bigger investors. Use their capital to pay out most of your investors.
As soon as you think you can't widen the parymid, close up shop and keep all of the investors money.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme [wikipedia.org]

Wow, people still play this game? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966378)

The damn thing is just a treadmill. You mine stuff, get money, mine stuff, get money, buy some mining stuff, mine stuff, get money...

Boring as hell. Space is an empty wasteland and so is this game.

Re:Wow, people still play this game? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966716)

Troll? He is right on about this game.

Perpetrator confessed to it (5, Interesting)

aafiske (243836) | about 8 years ago | (#15966390)

One of the interesting aspects is that the person who pulled the scam said so, publicly. And said who his main character is. One of the flaws in the game is that in theory, he could have transferred this money to another character he owned and been utterly untracable. But he came out and said 'I did it, these were the handful of characters I used, this is my main who I always play with'.

More interesting, he's set a bounty on himself of 1.2 bil and gone out looking for fights. (You collect the bounty if you blow up his ship, then catch his pod and blow that up too. A little tricky, but not impossible.) With 700bil in the bank, he can afford pimpin' ships and the best gear, and not worry about when he loses them. He's already been found and podded once (by some members of the Mercenary Coalition, if anyone's curious), not sure if he's going to keep bountying himself. Given his attitude, I suspect he will, since he's looking for a fight and pvp experience.

Re:Perpetrator confessed to it (5, Interesting)

blueZhift (652272) | about 8 years ago | (#15966601)

You just gotta love this! Beyond some simple scam, it sounds like this guy is essentially creating game content in the form of this continuing drama. In an age of reality tv shows, this is just perfect.

Re:Perpetrator confessed to it (4, Insightful)

DDLKermit007 (911046) | about 8 years ago | (#15966909)

Man thats just the kind of content developers couldn't hope to create themselves. Theres no way they can touch the guy doing that. This is an example of an MMORPG truley succeding.

Full details from the scammer himself (4, Informative)

GoNINzo (32266) | about 8 years ago | (#15966391)

If you want the scammer's side to it, there's a video [eve-files.com] , and easier to understand, text translation [eve-files.com] of the video. (or just search for EIB on http://www.eve-files.com/ [eve-files.com] )

But it's basically 'yay i win eve'.

Lesson learned? (2, Informative)

SupremoMan (912191) | about 8 years ago | (#15966753)

To fall for a Pyramid scheme one must be really naive. You can make simular scheme in any game you want, just need a gullible populous.

But then again most of tech stocks before the bubble burst were essencially Pyramid schemes. The only way to make money off of them was to sell before the bubble burst and leave someone else holding the bag.

WTF? (1)

cheese-cube (910830) | about 8 years ago | (#15966780)

For a non EVE player, the What Would You Do With 700 Billion ISK? [eve-online.com] thread makes absolutely no sense. What is a GTC or a BPO? I guess the same goes with WoW lingo.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15966883)

GTC = Game Time Card. You can buy them and sell them to other players in exchange for in-game money. It's a hotly debated topic, as it's often viewed as 'buying ISK' (ISK is the name of the in-game money).. CCP's original intent was to let corpmembers help each other out if needed, by buying your friend some time and all through easy means.

BPO = blueprint original. Everything you can produce in EVE requires a blueprint. There's originals, and copies. Originals are, well, original, and can be used over and over again, you can perform research on them (improving production time, production costs), and copy them. Copies are limited - you can only use 'em so many times, and can't perform research on them.

And as a bonus, T2 = 'Tech II' - a higher level of equipment, if you will, the economy of which is entirely player-driven.

Re:WTF? (1)

cheese-cube (910830) | about 8 years ago | (#15966910)

Its interesting that CCP has setup a system where virtual currency is directly translatable to real-world assets (In this case the asset is a subscription to a service, which despite what you'd think its an asset none the less). I think that this is fundamentally flawed and is just asking for exploitation by "gold-farmers" (Or ISK farmers if you will).

Re:WTF? (1)

Harik (4023) | about 8 years ago | (#15966958)

Game Time Card/Code. 30 or 90 days of playtime. You can buy them for RL cash, then trade them for in-game cash. You can also sell them for RL cash, hence the $70,000+ valuation on ebay.

BPO is a monopoly on an in-game item. (Well, there's 12-20 BluePrint Originals for each rare item). You normally win them in the in-game lottery, and it's the gift that keeps on giving. For WoW players, it'd be like purples not dropping and only being available from 1 player crafter per shard.

Re:WTF? (4, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 8 years ago | (#15967415)

"BPO is a monopoly on an in-game item. (Well, there's 12-20 BluePrint Originals for each rare item). You normally win them in the in-game lottery, and it's the gift that keeps on giving. For WoW players, it'd be like purples not dropping and only being available from 1 player crafter per shard."

Not quite. To clarify to others: BPO means "Blueprint Original". To produce any item in EVE, you need a blueprint and raw materials. Originals may be used for production, may be researched to reduce material costs and production time to a certain degree (the limit being the maximum reprocessing value of that item. i.e. if a maxed out refiner reprocesses an item that was produced with no material wastage due to good research and producer skills, no materials are lost.) Last, BPOs can be copied.

Note that copies cannot be researched, cannot be copied again, and are limited to a certain number of production runs before they go poof. At one point copies could be used for unlimited production, and this killed the economy for at least a year and a half. While CCP made all new copies limited-run within a matter of a few months, the unlims were left ingame for at least another year before they were all converted to maximum-run-count copies.

In the game, there are currently three main classes of items:
Tech 1 - The baseline. The Tech 1 (referred to usually as T1) variant of any item is typically the worst variant (except for some items which have "Civilian or Basic" variants) T1 BPOs are one of the few things that can be bought off of the NPC market. There is an effectively infinite supply, so any player with enough money to invest in a T1 BPO can start producing it. For a while there was almost no money to be made in T1 unless you were first on the market (see the above comment about unlimited copies, from here on referred to as BPCs) Now that all BPCs are limited-run, there is now money to be made from T1 items, although not huge amounts.

Named items - All better than T1 variants, with increased effectiveness and reduced fitting requirements. They are NPC drops only, and no BPOs exist. Occasionally BPCs for these may be given out in various manners.

Tech 2 (T2) - T2 items have improved effectiveness at the cost of increased fitting requirements. (The exception being ships - they are just plain Better, and also are designed for specialization.) Some named items are better than T2 variants, although this is rare. T2 items can only be produced from BPOs that are essentially given out in a lottery, where lottery "tickets" are purchased by running missions for special NPCs in the game to gain what are called research points. There are only approximately 20 BPOs for any given T2 item in existence in the game. Additional BPOs are only given out if a BPO owner gets banned or CCP finds that they have gone inactive or have left the game. (i.e. the BPO isn't being used.) Due to the limited supply, T2 BPOs mean massive profits even though the material costs can be quite high. The thread linked to is talking about potentially buying out all (or most) BPOs of a given item, establishing a full monopoly on that item. You may see references in the thread to HACs - That stands for Heavy Assault Cruiser, and that particular type of ship is increasing in popularity but supply is not changing, so HACs are climbing steadily in price (and profit for the BPO owners).

obOfficeSpace (5, Funny)

Rectum2003 (686009) | about 8 years ago | (#15966783)

What Would You Do With 700 Billion ISK? Two chicks at the same time. Darn straight. Two chicks at the same time.

Re:obOfficeSpace (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | about 8 years ago | (#15967065)

Peter Gibbons: That's it? If you had 700 billion isk, you'd do two chicks at the same time?
Lawrence: Damn straight. I always wanted to do that, man. And I think if I had 700 billion isk I could hook that up, cause chicks dig a dude with money.
Peter Gibbons: Well, not all chicks.
Lawrence: Well the kind of chicks that'd double up on a dude like me do.
Peter Gibbons: Good point.

One of my favorite movie scene dialogs ever, slightly bent to fit the occasion.

Re:obOfficeSpace (4, Funny)

NsOmNiA91130 (942812) | about 8 years ago | (#15967250)

From the thread: "At $12-$15 per 30 day time code, 120 mil isk. Gotta go ask a friend how much prostitutes go for here in Holland. Okay, you can get 2 girls till your done for $150 bucks. So you need 10 GTC's to hook up with two girls at once, that's 1.2 billion isk. With 700 billion isk you could hook up with 1166 girls. If I did my math right"

Re:obOfficeSpace (1)

queenb**ch (446380) | about 8 years ago | (#15967308)

Assuming that you sold it off on ebay for real $$ to pay the hookers...since you obviously are having problems finding two who are willing sans the cash...

2 cents,

QueenB

Not on YouTube (2, Funny)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#15967389)

Not on YouTube yet? Unless my searching skills are to blame, it's a bit surprising. I was about to upload it myself but I don't really care about that whole story...

Should EVE send him an 1099-B? (1, Funny)

Animats (122034) | about 8 years ago | (#15967402)

This could be construed as "income from a barter exchange" by the IRS. EvE should send him a 1099-B form at the end of the year, showing that as income. In the words of the IRS:

The Internet has provided a medium for new growth in the bartering exchange industry. This growth prompts the following reminder: Barter exchanges are required to file Form 1099-B for all transactions unless certain exceptions are met. Refer to Barter Exchanges for additional information on this subject. IRS tax topic "Bartering income [irs.gov]

This is a very real issue, because there are active markets for converting ISK to dollars and back. [gameusd.com] There are buyers, sellers, quotes, and services that track price trends. That's not an "informal exchange of services on a noncommercial basis", which the IRS doesn't tax. That's a non-dollar credit, which the IRS converts to US dollars at prevailing rates and does tax. The numbers here are big enough to attract IRS interest.

This appears to be legit game play... (1)

RexRhino (769423) | about 8 years ago | (#15967448)

I am not an eve player, but from what I read, this does not appear to be a technical exploit, or a violation of the terms of service, or anything like that.

This was basicly an in-game version of a pyramid scheme or ponzi scheme. You can read about pyramid schemes here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyramid_scheme [wikipedia.org] ... but basicly "A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves the exchange of money primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, usually without any product or service being delivered." This is basicly the same scam as Amway and other multi-level marketing scams (and the same model most government social insurance programs are based on).

Apparently the scam was run IN-GAME... meaning that this wasn't a real life scam that will get someone thrown in prison in real life - Financial scamming appears to be legal gameplay in Eve, the same way it is not a crime to attack other players in the game.

Hardly "Rocked" & The Joke Is On The Scammer (4, Interesting)

aldheorte (162967) | about 8 years ago | (#15967549)

This occurs regularly in Eve, this just happens to be the latest incarnation (the title of "rocks" is way overblown, 99.9% of players in Eve won't even know or care). The basic "problem" in Eve is that there are no enforced laws on corporate behavior. No SEC or FTC. Therefore, it's almost a certainty that any venture that requires joint ownership and capital will ultimately end up in fraud. It's a great study for both libertarian and regulatory economists alike. Although some people may relish the prospect of no government regulation, the problem is that no grand projects of joint capital are possible (they do happen, but they are always under a cloud of suspicion and will ultimately fall to greed in most cases). This means there are no truly reliable avenues of investment (there is also no FDIC for joint ventures). For those who are going to point out that you can buy shares in X venture currently in game, wait awhile.

Also, imagine the work it takes for one person to run a scheme of this size, dealing constantly with investments, withdrawals, and dividends. Sure, it racks up a lot of cash, but the perpetrator probably had to "play" 23/7 for six months to pull it off, constantly dealing with minutiae. So, yes, well done in terms of a scam, but it takes a hell of a lot of work. Is 700 billion units of virtual cash worth it? Maybe, when you consider how much it could be transferred into real currency if he bought time cards with ISK and sold them.

However, here another economic curiosity comes into play - the number of people selling time cards is a limited number (you cannot buy time cards from CCP with ISK, someone has to pay CCP real money and then put them up for sale in ISK). Cashing out would spike the sell price of time cards in *ISK* through the roof. He would have to deal both the minutiae of buying and with selling hundreds if not thousands of time cards, which would also drive the cost of time cards down *in real currency*.

Basically, when you figure it all out and divide the final take in real currency by time spent to do the scam and then transfer it all, I doubt the hourly pay is impressive. So, sorry folks, no get rich quick scheme here.
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