Video games are an easy channel for money launderers

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A recent study on money-laundering in online games by Kayla Izenman, a research analyst at RUSI, has shown that money-laundering and fraud have become a widespread activity on the game market place as the popular Counter-Strike Game: Global Offensive developed by Seattle-Valve has been identified to power criminal and terrorist activities, and almost all key purchases traded in the marketplace often end in fraud. In October, the company announced that players on CS: GO are now restricted from trading “container keys”, majorly used in acquiring items such as gun, knife etc, that are used in the game.

The discovery of how criminals have adopted online video games to perpetuate their evil deed is alarming, and this points to the vulnerability of video games for money-laundering. The report has it that for over a decade now, criminals have been using online video games to cash-in stolen credit card details, liquidating larger gains, and carried out other illegal activities. Fraudsters now use the proceeds of crime to acquire virtual currency, and later sell it at a discount price to online game players using various marketplaces.

Fortnite game was also identified as one of such games used for money laundering. This was discovered a year ago by Sixgill, a cyber security reasercher, who found that the Fortnite game currency is being sold on dark web, and traded on eBay. However, the big companies behind these games have greatly avoided the KYC and other requirements of the money-laundering regulations associated with payments. Nicholas Lovell, a game director at Electric Square noted that the legal system has only focused on physical property, and attention is not paid on the fact that players’ eagerness to pay real money for virtual items has led to emergence of a secondary marketplaces where gamers can trade these virtual goods. He also noted that the Valve’ s games who solely rely on in-game market place could be a target for money laundering. However, Valve has refused to provide answers to questions on money-laundering, through email.