The emergence of a new kind of crime is an interesting thing. We’ve had virtual worlds for quite a few years and as their popularity grows so too do crimes such as fraud, or in this case theft.
There’s a game called Habbo Hotel, it’s an online game where people have online characters. Like a few other online games they can pay real money to decorate their characters and the rooms they occupy. Effectively they buy virtual items to enhance their game.
So when some teenagers are accused of stealing username and passwords of other players, logging in with these accounts and transferring items to their own accounts, it becomes theft. The current buzzword is Virtual Theft. A 17 year old Dutch teenager has been arrested over this allegation, and five other 15 year olds are being questioned. What makes the “theft” significant is that the value of the virtual items is around US$5000.
A spokesman for Sulake, Habbo Hotel’s operator, said:
“It is a theft because the furniture is paid for with real money. But the only way to be a thief in Habbo is to get people’s usernames and passwords and then log in and take the furniture.”
The full article is here. It’s important to note that this isn’t an isolated case. Virtual worlds (in the form of online games) have been a growing trend and like most things that can happen in the real world most forms of crime can carry across to virtual worlds.