The Merkle

Microsoft Sues Chinese Company Over Fraudulent Payments Linked to Xbox Accounts

Avid gamers will be no strangers to the phenomenon known as “hacked Xbox accounts”. These issues date back several years, and Microsoft claims they have finally found the culprit. According to the technology giant, a Chinese gaming website has been hacking Xbox accounts since 2015. All of these accounts were then sold to other players. A very strong accusation, although Microsoft seems to have some evidence.

Microsoft and IGSKY Are At War

When looking at the IGSKY website, one would not automatically assume they are doing something nefarious. The platform looks very professional, although one would expect so from a gaming service company. The company’s services revolve around allowing players to pay for in-game credits and rare items. Such a third-party service is often frowned upon, but it is not entirely illegal either.

What is illegal, however, is selling credits stolen from someone else. To be more specific, Microsoft claims the Chinese company made close to US$2m in purchases through hacked accounts and the credit cards those accounts held on file at that time. Through the purchase option on the IGSKY website, they could effectively launder the stolen credits for cash without an issue.

Even though this explanation makes a lot of sense, it remains a very strong accusation. Microsoft seems very confident they have caught the culprit in the act, although a lot of details remain shrouded in mystery for now. We do know Microsoft’s fraud investigators successfully made purchases on the IGSKY website to collect the necessary evidence to make the case.

There seems to be one particular incident that stood out. The investigators purchased FIFA points from IGSKY, which immediately led an eight-year-old account’s password being changed. Said account purchased exactly 11,000 FIFA points. Considering how the Chinese company sells these points and items at half of the regular market price, it is obvious something isn’t adding up.Coincidence can exist, but all of these correlations appeared to be too well-timed.

It is a bit unclear how IGSKY hacks Xbox accounts, though. In fact, there is no evidence of the Chinese company doing so themselves. It is possible they buy hacked accounts from vendors on the deep web or other online marketplaces. The fact the company seemingly abuses the payment information on file is a clear sign of their nefarious intent, though.Microsoft has filed charges of fraud, CFAA violations, and racketeering conspiracy.

The bigger problem comes in the form of shutting down this nefarious activity. IGSKY is based out of China, which makes it very difficult for a US-based company to have operations shut down. For now, the IGSKY company has its domestic assets – including PayPal accounts – frozen. It will be interesting to see how this case further develops over the coming months.

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