Everything Is Grey

2021-05-06

Art By Redline XIII

What is right and what is wrong?  These terms are analyzed far differently in New Eden than in the real world, or even other video games.  One of the interesting facets of Eve Online is the idea that no one is totally safe at any given time and, within reason, anything goes.  If you can think it up within the limits of the sandbox, no one is stopping you.  Let’s look at some of the so called scams and controversies which have shaped New Eden into what it is today. 

The EIB Scam of 2006

One of the earliest large scale examples of fraud occurred in 2006.  A player named Cally started the Eve Investment Bank (EIB), which was supposed to be like any other investment bank.  Cally was trusted with using the deposits to turn a profit and then pay interest to the player clients.  With no regulation, Cally strung players along for months before cleaning out the bank and posting a cheeky video of how he had scammed wealthy investors out of almost 800 billion ISK (at that time the equivalent of $170,000 USD).  This event marks a key point in EVE history.  As would be the case in any other MMO of 2006, CCP devs were asked to a) punish Cally, or b) reimburse the scammed money, or c) force Cally to return the money.  The development team concluded that Cally hadn’t done anything that violated the game rules (EULA).  Therefore, not only did Cally not incur any consequences, but his actions set a precedent for those who would follow him.

The Ebank Scandal of 2009

In 2009 Ricdic, one of the staff members of Ebank, also absconded with player funds.  Ebank was probably the most serious attempt to run a genuine, in-game bank that ever happened in EVE Online.  It had a prominent board of directors, trusted members of the community with industrial expertise.  It also had a fully functional website, just like any other bank site, where players could deposit ISK and track the interest it was making.  For a while, it worked. It didn’t fail all at once like EIB, but Ricdic’s actions were the nail in the coffin. 

The bank had made a series of bad loans and people were taking advantage.  No one director of Ebank had access to all the funds, but Ricdic was able to withdraw 200 billion ISK.  He then traded it for real world money to pay debts related to his son’s medical bills.  In an article in Reuters, he stated that he received a spam email from a site that traded ISK for real money, that he didn’t preplan the theft, and it was just a means to an end.  Since he had already violated the EULA, he was consequently banned from the game.  This was not punishment for the theft from Ebank, but for engaging in real world currency trading. 

Suddenly, there was a run on the bank.  All investors’ Ebank accounts were temporarily frozen, as the Directors tried to look at avenues to return the bank to profitability.  When it was determined that there was simply no way to make up for the lost funds, the bank was ultimately shut down.  It wasn’t a cascade failure, and investors/players received at least some of their funds back. 

Ricdic, one of the few trusted players in game, had betrayed that trust, further perpetuating the idea in EVE one can’t afford the luxury of trust.  It also emboldened other players to launch more complex and profitable scams. 

Titans4U in 2010

In 2010 a player known as Bad Bobby had managed a series of investment projects for the community and earned a good reputation for earning people ISK.  His latest and greatest project was the Titans4U fund.  Like Ebank before him, Bad Bobby offered something that seemed like a safe bet.  Trustees from the game’s investment community oversaw the purchase of titan blueprints, using investor ISK.  The blueprints were locked down and only used to make blueprint copies, which were then sold at a profit.  If Bobby, or one of the other trustees somehow pulled off an EBank-like scam on everyone, the other trustees could sell the Titan blueprint originals and still return everyone’s money.  It worked and everyone profited – for a year.

Bobby suggested that the fund increase the number of shares offered, to bring in more investors.  This is usually a red flag for something shady going on, but the trustees agreed.  In the background, Bobby was acquiring the majority of the shares for himself.  One day, he kicked the trustees out of the corp, cleaned it out, and disbanded Titans4U.  Bad Bobby had made off with 850 billion ISK.  He had betrayed the trust of those who depended on him, all to earn infamy and “glory.”

Scammers Gonna Scam

In the real world theft, embezzlement, Ponzi schemes, and bank fraud are all felonies.  People can end up going to jail for a very very long time.  In New Eden these days, scamming is at best expected and, at worst, rewarded.  Players are challenged to think up new and interesting ways to screw each other over.  Heck Cally appeared in Newswire, IGN, and TenTonHammer.  RicDic was interviewed by Reuters.  Bad Bobby made Engagget.  These people become celebrities, legends.  Honestly, I decided to come back to EVE after I had quit because I read an article in PC magazine about Cally.  In New Eden everything is grey – and apparently we like it that way.                     

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Comments

  • George Johnson (SyxAxis Photog

    “Fools and their money are soon parted.” or “If something is too good to be true, it most likley is.”. If someone promised to turn your $10 into $15 you might take a chance, risk and loss is low. Now if someone promises to take $1Bn from a corporation and turn that into $1.5Bn, there’s months and months of legal talks and audits. The real world financial industries are some of the most tightly regulated businesses in the world.

    EO ain’t the real world. It’s the wild-west in space, it’s frontier land some places it’s OK but most places you’re looking over your shoulder, that’s why we play it!

    Ultimately EO is an adult game, it’s not nice, it’s downright nasty at times but as an adult you take responsibility for your actions. Every time I get ganked and i want to cry at losing another 700m ISK ship I remind myself, “If I don’t want to get hurt then I shouldn’t play big boy’s games.”. I get mad, take a break and then go back and try again.

    May 6, 2021 at 7:36 AM
  • Winston Archer

    Eve Online is the “World Series of Poke’s, No Limit Texas Hold’em tournament” of video games. If you can’t stand the heat then stay out of the kitchen.

    May 6, 2021 at 10:40 AM
  • Guilford Australis

    Market scams are without a doubt the easiest way to get space-rich. All of the really wealthy players I’ve known have been either scammers, CEOs of large corporations, or market traders. The difference is that running a corporation and trading on the market are lots of work, whereas scamming some doofus in Jita out of 20B with a bogus contract is hardly any work at all.

    I’ve done some market scamming myself. We’re not talking multi-level investment fraud here – just waiting for that random nobody to fat-finger my contract that they should have read more carefully. In that scenario, I’m not taking advantage of players’ trust like the scams described in the article. I’m taking advantage of their greed.

    May 6, 2021 at 11:03 AM
    • Seir Luciel Guilford Australis

      I’m not taking advantage of players’ trust like the scams described in the article. I’m taking advantage of their greed.

      Is that what you tell yourself? Sounds to me like you’re trying to justify some distasteful gaming behavior.

      May 15, 2021 at 4:47 PM
  • Alaric Faelen

    Almost every scam in Eve is exploiting players’ laziness or willingness to ‘buy victory’ over playing the game. It takes two to tango.
    I never had sympathy for people that made fools of themselves in ‘Bonus Rooms’ or lost everything trying to get free isk. Amazingly in a decade of Eve, I’ve never been scammed because I 1) read contracts before accepting…and 2) am not looking to get something for nothing in the first place. There are no ‘victims’ in an Eve scam except for the occasional newbie that just doesn’t know better because to be fair- most games don’t allow scamming so it’s an utterly foreign concept to people coming from a lifetime of developer-induced honesty between players. Those are the only people that I give a slight pass to, but even then if you mention Eve Online to any gamer the first thing you will hear is the moment you undock you will be blown up and all your stuff stolen.

    Way back in 2011 I started Eve knowing almost nothing about it, no one that played it, or that it wasn’t a flight sim style space game. But I ‘knew’ that I would be murdered daily and have scammers stuck to me like ticks just by the comments and reviews of others.
    It’s never actually been like that, but before I even knew the name of a single ship I was already aware of Eve’s ruthless reputation.

    May 6, 2021 at 1:39 PM
  • Deni'z von Meanace

    33bil loss on scams…

    May 6, 2021 at 8:10 PM
  • Victoria Megan

    I was scammed by a binary option website iq options to be exact. I lost about $153,000 to them. It was a really hard time for me because that was all i had and they tricked me into investing the money with a guarantee that i will make profit from the investment.. I was referred to Mr Gary, he’s a senior recovery specialist and he helped in recovering all my lost funds to me. I couldn’t believe at first that this was possible as i have lost all hope in contacting anyone on the internet, but i guess not everyone is bad after all. You can reach him on cybertechhub100 at gmail dot com.

    May 18, 2021 at 4:49 PM