Criminals are using Fortnite’s in-game currency, V-Bucks, to launder money, British online newspaper The Independent reports.
Players can use V-Bucks to buy cosmetic items in Fortnite to use them while playing. While developer Epic Games sells V-Bucks in batches inside the game, criminals in the dark web offer them at highly discounted prices to apparently clueless players.
The newspaper conducted an investigation along with the cyber security firm Sixgill to find out how these scams are being made. Criminals spend money from a stolen credit card illegaly to acquire V-Bucks to the buyer’s account, and then are paid with a buyer’s legal money through cryptocurrencies. This turns Fortnite into a money laundering machine, since the illegal money dies in the hands of Epic, and the criminals get paid with a buyer’s legal money.
Benjamin Preminger, a senior intelligence analyst at Sixgill, said in an interview to The Independent that Epic is letting these scammers use their system with no punishment, and that criminals take advantage of the company’s “weak security measures” to do so. “This directly touches on the ability of threat actors to launder money through the game.”
Epic tells players in loading screen messages that “only you can prevent V-Bucks scams,” but Preminger says the company can act against them as well. “Monitoring the transfer of high-value goods in the game, identifying players with large stockpiles of V-bucks, and sharing data with relevant law enforcement agencies” can help fight that issue.
But these criminals deceive players by saying they’re very rich people who just want to help others get V-Bucks. Then they just accept bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies to ensure the money will be hard to track by law enforcement agencies.
Epic has refrained from commenting specifically about the case to Dot Esports. The company only emphasized the only way to earn V-Bucks is either buying them or earning some in Save the World or Battle Royale.