As it turns out, money laundering goes well beyond traditional finance and even cryptocurrency. Online criminals are, according to a Trend Micro report, using online video game currencies to launder funds. While this may seem like taking two steps backward, it is an unregulated market waiting to be tapped for all kinds of reasons.
Virtual Game Currencies Are The New Tool For Criminals
It was only a matter of time until criminals turned to other means for money laundering. Even though a lot of “financial experts” assume Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are used for this purpose, that is far from the case. Traditional financial means remain the most popular tools to sluice money through back channels without too much trouble.
However, it looks like there is a new player in town, as criminals flock to in-game currencies as of late. Since virtual game currencies are entirely unregulated, making them even more a gray area than Bitcoin, this is not totally surprising. Banks crack down on their international transfers, and Bitcoin is not anonymous by any stretch of the imagination.
According to Trend Micro, mostly PC games are being targeted by these money laundering schemes. Consoles are also popular, even though they pose some logistical challenges. Among the favorite video games used to launder money are World of Warcraft, GTA 5, Fifa, and Minecraft, among other popular titles.
Trend Micro stated the following their report:
“Gamers must be made aware of the crucial role they have in cybercrime whenever they take part in the exchange of online gaming currencies. Denial of service attacks, identity theft, and financial fraud are just a few of the attacks that have been funded by the sale of online gaming currencies and have devastated companies and organizations of all sizes.”
There are several ways for criminals to obtain large amounts of in-game currency. They can exploit accounts by infecting computers with malware to steal login credentials. Another way is to purchase in-game currencies with stolen financial information such as credit cards or PayPal accounts. All of this information is available for purchase on the deep web.
Once the in-game currency has been obtained, the challenge of trying to sell it begins. Most sites use advertising and dedicated websites to fulfill customer orders. Since most games don’t mind paying for a competitive edge, there is no shortage of potential buyers whatsoever. Although this market is unregulated, videogame developers do not take kindly to people buying and selling in-game currencies. Accounts will get banned eventually.
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