The Hustle

Video game companies want criminals to stop using their games to launder real-life loot

The video game developer Valve is clamping down on in-game transactions after noticing huge amounts of money laundering across its platform.

October 30, 2019


Valve, the video game developer behind “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” announced that players would no longer be able to trade keys purchased in the game’s internal marketplace.

Why? Because, as Valve explained to its users, “worldwide fraud networks have recently shifted to using CS:GO keys to liquidate their gains.”

The games may be virtual, but the criminals are real

Here’s how video game money laundering works: Criminals use stolen money to buy in-game money (or other resellable items) and then exchange it for real, untraceable cash.

In some cases, criminals target players — often unsuspecting, video game-loving kids — by offering deals and other discounts, enabling them to move their cash fast.

And this isn’t the first video game that’s enabled crime

“Fortnite,” in particular, has had many problems with money laundering — last year, a single cybersecurity firm issued 53k “Fortnite” scam alerts between September and October alone.

And other games that offer in-game loot have struggled to boot the all-too-real villains from their platforms for years.

It’s not just money laundering, either: Scammers have been busted for setting up complex gambling rings based on video game currencies, too.

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