EVE Online Ponzi Scheme Rip Off

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MMOStories

12 October 2010

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Hundreds of EVE Online players were left penniless thanks to a cunning pyramid scheme devised by one of the game’s players.

The scam was perpetrated by a toon named Cally, and it started out legitimate enough…

He set up a corporation ‘The EVE Intergalactic Bank’ and then advertised it to other players as an investment bank.  Customers can loan their money to him, he then uses it to play the markets and delivers them a share of the profits – just like a real investment bank.

He started out small, taking on a few customers here and there, returning modest profits to everyone involved and always paying everyone on time.  But soon as the bank’s success snowballed and word spread legions of players started queuing up to get in on a slice of the action.  Everyone was making money and on the surface everything seemed great.

However this was only the front that Cally was putting up, the reality was very different…  Instead of speculating to accumulate he was simply using the cash given to him by new members to pay off his debts to his more established clients whilst keeping the rest for himself.

As the popularity of the scheme grew so did Cally’s pot of cash.  And then when the pot got big enough, he took it and ran! Leaving players all over the EVE universe out of pocket.

Then to rub it in he screenshotted the whole lot and posted a detailed account of what he’d done on the forums.  Cue much crying and nerd rage from the victims of the scheme… and much laughing from everyone else.

The final amounts involved were mind boggling: 790 Billion ISK! (ISK being EVE’s in game currency)

I know what you’re thinking: So who cares? He stole some virtual gold from a computer game – it’s not like it’s worth anything, at the end of the day nothing real was taken.  But on that front you’re dead wrong! All big computer games have a black market on eBay and other websites.  Players will pay good money for in game cash and other items, so everything in the game has a cash value attached to it.

At the time the scam took place, the prevailing conversion rate meant that the ISK he stole was worth a staggering $170000 in REAL money. And what’s more it was completely legal! – Read on…

The really fascinating part of the whole affair was the developer CCP’s response to it.  Although undoubtedly devious and underhand, they maintained that Cally’s actions were perfectly legal in terms of the rules of the game.  Their position is that is that as it wasn’t an exploit or hack of the game itself it was purely an issue between the players – and therefore fair play.  EVE prides itself on being a cut-throat world of espionage and politics (as well as a space simulator of course!) and so therefore Cally’s rip off, whilst huge in scale fit perfectly in to that ethos.
Here’s part of their official press release on the subject:

  • To make this perfectly clear, the EVE Intergalactic Bank was NOT an in-game mechanic.  It was purely player-organized and –driven, and thus open to exploitation within the confines of the game mechanic.
  • CCP is against scams and scam artists of this nature in-general, but so long as people abide by the EULA, funds or assets acquired through what one would term fraud and/or embezzlement in RL are within the context of the game at-large, and thus not actionable by CCP.
  • They realize that the game economy is very real, and represents countless hours of  effort in EVE Online to amass these sums of ISK.  Fraud exists in this virtual world we have all created just as it does in RL; “Buyer Beware” would seem to apply.
  • What CCP does NOT want to do is introduce boundaries or restrictions with respect to these issues, up until the point where something would affect the overall game mechanic.  In that respect, they are very much a “hands-off” company.

So in short: Unlucky idiots you’re not getting your money back!
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1 comment for this story Add a comment

stuck with the noob ship again

Author: Anonymous | Posted: 22/12/2012 05:25:03

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