- The Independent and security company Sixgill investigate dark web for Fortnite V-bucks money laundering
- Stolen credit card data is used to buy V-bucks, which is sold at discount prices
- The culprits operate in multiple languages around the world
- Fortnite searches on the dark web increase
Fortnite’s popularity has finally landed it in trouble. According to a new report by The Independent, a UK-based media outlet, criminals have been using the game’s currency known as V-bucks to fund organized crime entities and “clean” money stolen from credit cards.
More Bang for Your V-buck: Criminals to Fortnite to Fund Organized Crime
Fortnite popularity has been fantastic. From permeating every game medium to turning into a social phenomenon whereby parents are now paying for actual tutors to teach their kids how not to suck at the popular battle-royale, Fortnite has been one of the defining-games of 2018, and very possibly the 21st century.
With millions of fans around the world and billions worth of net revenue, V-bucks is almost as if it were a real currency and some seedy characters have taken notice. According to an investigation by The Independent, V-bucks, Fortnite’s in-game currency, has been useful for laundering dirty money.
It’s all very simple: Stolen credit card data is used to snap up precious V-Buck and then the currency is advertised around various marketplaces around the web, sold at discount prices, and thus giving people an incentive to buy from venues different than Epic Games’ official store.
Forget bitcoin, V-bucks turns out to be a piece of cake. The Independent teamed up with cybersecurity firm Sixgill to look hard at the less glamorous side of online gaming and unearth the money laundering operations.
Business is Booming
The dark web has proven a cozy place for those who want to move goodies around and eventually erase all trace of wrongdoing. The V-buck mafia has been using social media, such as Intagram and Twitter, along with other off-the-radar markets to move small quantities of the currency and gradually launder money.
Sixgill agents have revealed that the scale of the laundering operation is global, with the perpetrators having a truly impressive footprint. Sixgill established that the culprits were operating in multiple languages around the world, including:
Sixgill and The Independent unearthed other interesting facts about the booming offbeat business. Sixgill Senior Analyst Benjamin Preminger commented for The Independent:
Criminals are executing carding fraud and getting money in and out of the Fortnite system with relative impunity.
Mr. Preminger elaborated on the reasons why this industry is now taking off: “Threat actors [a malicious person or entity] 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.”
Fortnite has also proven a particularly vibrant market with 200 million players worldwide and $3 billion generate in revenue in 2018, according to TechCrunch.
While Sixgill has been unable to determine the exact profit criminals were turning, there have been Fortnite items worth $250,000 on Ebay in the 60-window period of the investigation.
Sixgill also established that the mentions of “Fortnite” on the dark web had risen. The research also led to an interesting found where @OP was selling Fortnite V-bucks at a discount rate, giving his reasons:
“I’m f**king rich as f**k,” they wrote in the product’s description. “Now it’s time to give back to the deep web at a massive discounted rate.”
An independent IT security company, Zerofox, established 53,000 instances of Fortnite scams taking places between September and October 2018.