Fortnite Players Are Helping Dark Web Criminals To Launder Money
An investigation into the online sale of V-Bucks- the in-game currency used on popular video game Fortnite- has revealed that criminals are using the tokens to launder money.
According to the report by The Independent and involving research results from cybersecurity firm Sixgill, cybercriminals have massively exploited the game’s weak security systems to sell illicitly acquired V-Bucks at discounted prices to unsuspecting players.
Allegedly, malicious entities are using stolen credit cards to purchase Fortnite’s in-game token from the game’s official store.
The criminals then use the dark web to sell the V-Bucks in bulk at discounted prices, while small quantities of the currency are available on the open web via adverts placed on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram.
Undercover investigators are said to have posed as potential customers, only to uncover an extensive web of money laundering activities undertaken in English, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic.
According to the investigative report, the dark web vendors prefer purchases completed in Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) for what is seen as the benefit of anonymity offered by cryptocurrency payments.
Developed by Epic Games, Fortnite has become a blockbuster game popular with millions of young players mostly because it’s both free to play as well as available on virtually every other major gaming platform.
With about 200 million players, the game has attracted criminals for the sheer amounts of money spent on in-game purchases.
Players use V-Bucks to purchase combatant outfits, weaponry, and other stuff. With all the money spent here, it follows that the game’s growing popularity coincides with increasing levels of criminal activity.
It is unclear to what extent the dark web activities have benefited perpetrators, but according to the report, purchases using V-Bucks grossed over $250,000 on U.S.-based e-commerce platform eBay within two months in 2018.
ZeroFox, an IT security firm published a research report detailing that there had 53,000 online scams that targeted the Fortnite game between September and October last year.
According to the cyber security company, 86 percent of the said scam activities reached targets via social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Earlier this year, reports indicated that Fortnite store had begun accepting Monero (XMR) for the purchase of in-game items.
But with concerns about money laundering and terrorism financing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sought to develop a framework that can help track transactions completed in privacy coins like Monero and Zcash.
Disclaimer: This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile assets and are very risky investments. Do your research and consult an investment professional before investing. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. Never borrow money to invest in cryptocurrencies.