Tuesday, October 6, 2015

CCP's War On Illicit RMT: Putting The Pieces Together

Writing about the nebulous world of EVE Online's real money trading black market is a challenge. The closest I ever get to confirmed information is reading the botting forums. Unfortunately, Team Security has done such a good job cracking down on botting that the bot forums aren't as informative as in years past. That means trying to look at activity and figure out what the black marketeers are up to.

CCP isn't that helpful either. We get maybe two dev blogs a year, one session at a CSM summit, and the annual presentation at Fanfest. That's the official news that most writers cover. Sometimes I get tidbits by following Twitter like the one at the top of this post.

So, what was CCP Peligro referring to? The upcoming CSM Summit? A new dev blog? Perhaps Team Security was about to roll up a major RMT operation and I needed to watch for an upcoming flood of tears? A tweet from the week before provided a hint of things to come.

I plan on doing a post on the Security session at the CSM summit, but I do want to point out an exchange that ties into the subject of this post:
Sort Dragon - With PLEX becoming worth more and more are you finding that the amount of dirty ISK moving through the economy is less and less?
CCP Peligro - It's a bit of a double edged sword. Less bots, more fraud.
Surprisingly, the next piece of the puzzle came at work. Did you know that October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month in the U.S.? I didn't know until an article appeared on our internal website. I don't think CCP delayed the launch of the new launcher one week to fit in with a U.S. national effort, but anything's possible, especially where EVE is concerned. So right about on schedule, CCP Bugartist put out a couple of tweets on Friday that fit in with the theme.

At this point, I'll pause and mention Google Authenticate. I learned about Google's app for both Android and iPhone the hard way. That's right, I got hacked because I waited to download it at the launch of Wildstar. I didn't log in on the first day of the open launch and wound up losing a few days trying to get my account back. I also wound up getting my Guild Wars 2 (despite using email authentication) and Lineage 2 accounts hacked as well. Oh well, live and learn. Now, if a game allows two-factor authentication, I always take advantage.

I have to admit, once I read CCP Bugartist's tweets, I really was primed to see some sort of tears on the EVE Online section of Player Auctions, a large RMT site that caters to buyers of several dozen games. I wasn't disappointed. Within 24 hours of the tweets, I saw a negative review posted on PA.

For those who can't read the image, the jilted buyer stated, "All he said was that he was 'unable to deliver' and gave no reason." The seller wasn't some fly-by-night operation. In September, he sold the second highest amount of ISK, both in the amount of ISK and the real world value, on Player Auctions. In a hopeful sign, the shop has not advertised ISK for sale over the past few days. I normally would hold off on publishing information like this, but with all the other circumstantial evidence, I think I can say that CCP hit another large black market operation sometime last week.

Of course, the only one who knows for sure whether Team Security hit the seller is the seller himself. As I mentioned before, trying to piece together the information is challenging. But something happened, and all indications are that a major ISK seller lost a lot of real life cash to Team Security.

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