Enough already of the tired old rhetoric that Bitcoin is the first choice of criminals for money laundering. Criminals will use any means available, including Fortnite’s V-Bucks, according to a new investigation by The Independent.
Free Game, Expensive Outfits
The Fortnite Battle Royale game has become an online phenomenon, largely because it is multi-platform and free-to-play. But in-game items, such as skins, must be paid for using the in-game currency V-Bucks. With 1000 V-Bucks costing around $10, there is a ready market for discounted coins, and this is where the criminals step in.
They buy V-Bucks using stolen credit card details, and then sell them on to players at a discount to effectively ‘clean’ the money. These are available to buy in bulk on the dark web, and in smaller quantities on social media platforms.
Fortnite Is Too Weak
Cybersecurity firm Sixgill, who undertook the investigation with The Independent, uncovered operations spanning around the globe. Senior Analyst, Benjamin Preminger explained that “Criminals are… getting money in and out of the Fortnite system with relative impunity.”
Threat actors are scoffing at Epic Games’ weak security measures, saying that the company doesn’t seem to care about players defrauding the system and purchasing discounted V-bucks… This directly touches on the ability of threat actors to launder money through the game.
Who Has The Biggest Launderette
The overall profit made by the Fortnite fraudsters is unknown. In fact, it’s likely easier for a blockchain analysis company to track bitcoins on its transparently public ledger than some database tokens like V-bucks.
However, Sixgill discovered $250,000 worth of Fortnite items sold on eBay in just a 60 day period last year. Epic Games, who develop Fortnite, brought in a profit of $3 billion in 2018, and the game’s popularity shows no signs of waning.
In contrast, authorities are successfully seeking out and prosecuting those who try to use Bitcoin for money laundering. It clearly can’t be as simple a job as scaremongers would have us believe. Last year it was reported that a mere 0.17% of money laundering cases in Japan involved cryptocurrency.
What do you think about criminals using virtual in-game currency to launder money? Share below!
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Author: Emilio Janus