It seems that Epic Games and Fortnite just can’t catch a break as of late. In the past year alone, Epic Games and Fortnite have been hit with lawsuits regarding their use of dance moves, received an “F” rating from the Better Business Bureau, and were even sued by PUBG Corp for copyright infringement (though that lawsuit has since been dropped). Fortnite can now add money laundering to their ever-growing laundry list of woes.
According to a report by The Independent, a UK based news outlet, scammers are now using Fortnite‘s in-game currency, V-Bucks, to launder stolen money. The report claims that criminals are stealing credit card information which they are using to purchase large quantities of V-Bucks through the in-game store. They are then taking their haul and selling insane quantities of V-Bucks on the dark web (through the nearly untraceable bitcoin) and through more visible channels to a lesser extent. “Discounted V-bucks are being sold in bulk on the dark web – a hidden section of the internet only accessible using specialist software – as well as in smaller quantities on the open web by advertising them on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter,” states the article.
The Independent has partnered with Sixgill, a cybersecurity firm, to delve deeper into the illicit activities. Together they found that although the scam seems extremely widespread, with operations around the world, most launderers remain undetected in part due to “Epic Games’ weak security measures,” according to Sixgill senior intelligence analyst Benjamin Preminger. “The company doesn’t seem to care about players defrauding the system and purchasing discounted V-bucks,” he continues.
While the report does not state exactly how much money has changed hands using this process, Sixgill found that “Fortnite items grossed more than $250,000 on eBay in a 60 day period last year.” Epic Games spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the situation. An unnamed spoke person for the company stated, “Epic Games takes these issues seriously, as chargebacks and fraud put our players and our business at risk.” They go on to stress that their players use two-factor account verification, make new, strong passwords for every new account, and do not share their account information with anyone.
While it’s only a matter of time before law enforcement and cybersecurity firms such as Sixgill get to the bottom of the whole debacle, the use of the dark web and bitcoin definitely increases the difficulty of finding the perpetrators and putting a stop to their activities.