Last week, over 100 billion ISK in assets was stolen from Pandemic Hordes buyback program by two of their members, Vertiso Ambraelle and his partner, Rangloff.
Normally stories of large thefts involve either: trusted bitter vets from inside the alliance turning rogue, or the burning of spies by enemy intelligence agencies in a long-term infiltration effort that takes months.
So, when I found out that Vertiso was a 4-month old Horde member with no prior history in the alliance, working without organised help, it certainly piqued my interest.
I sat down for a chat with Vertiso to hear his side of the story – a story not of any particular cunning, but rather one of impressive levels of mismanagement running throughout Horde that let him run off with the majority of their buyback programme with relatively little effort. Of course, this story comes from the man himself, so take what you read with as much scepticism as you believe is needed; but Vertiso is certainly not the first person to complain about Hordes extreme lack of vetting and organization.
How it all went down.
Vertiso began by explaining how he ended up in Pandemic Horde. He had returned to Eve only 4 months ago, re-activating an old 20 million skill point character with the introduction of alpha clones. He joined Pandemic Horde as a gateway back into the game.
Horde’s focus on recruiting, well, hordes of new players with relatively low skill points means that anyone able to do logistics or with liquid isk is in high demand. Vertiso’s character could already pilot a rorqual and a jump freighter, which meant that within a few weeks of joining he was already operating one of the most popular buy-back services in the alliance. Buying loot and ore from players and shipping it to Jita regularly.
This staggering level of trust placed in a brand new player was only compounded by the fact that all of Horde’s buyback contracts are not fixed in the contract itself (I will give you X loot for Y amount of ISK). Instead, all buyback contracts are sent for 0 isk to the buyer, who is then trusted to pay the correct amount to the seller (Apparently Evepraisal and basic percentages are considered too difficult for the average horde member by their leadership.)
The reason given for the buybacks being at 0 ISK is that the market price may change between when the contract is put up, and when it is collected by the person running the scheme.
A number of other players ran competing buy-back programmes and there is an official horde programme which operates at a much lower percentage of market value than these private competitors. The problem was many of these buybacks lacked the ability to Jump Freighter the contents to Jita, sometimes paying Vertiso to transport the goods to market.
Once he had decided to steal the buyback contracts, Vertiso began by stopping these courier jobs, forcing the other buybacks to go on hold, giving him the largest share of the buyback market possible. He also told fellow buyback operators who could fly jump freighters that he had intel on the date for burn Jita, encouraging them to suspend their services and avoid the area for the week of his planned heist.
He then proceeded to accept every buyback contract he could, accumulating over 100 billion isk in player assets before loading them in three jump freighters, one piloted by himself and two by his partner in crime, Rangloff. He and Rangloff ran jumps from horde space to Jita for nine hours before anyone started to question why they weren’t receiving their payments for the buyback contracts they had submitted, and by then the majority of the assets were already sold. Eventually, Vertiso and Rangloff were kicked from the alliance, but by then the damage was done.
Life in Horde
Vertiso told me he was sick of life in horde after the first month, and executed the heist partially to show the danger of Hordes complete open door policy. He now plans to take his ill-gotten gains with him to TNT (Tactical Narcotics Team), an alliance within the Imperium. He split the shares equally with his partner Rangloff, leaving him with over 50 billion ISK. Not a bad little nest-egg.
He informed me that a week later he was still getting messages asking about the buyback programme, along with more contracts being sent to his character, even after the heist was unveiled. Because of Horde’s completely open door policy he still has characters inside of Horde, and plans to use Horde’s own Jump Freighter service to carry tens of billions of more stolen goods to Jita before he is finally done with the alliance.
Vertiso had a lot of bad things to say about Horde. He said that comms channels were usually hell, with absolutely no vetting of anyone involved. He described the groups inside of Horde as highly stratified, the capital ship pilots thinking of themselves as the gods of Horde among the sea of low skill point sub-capital pilots. He seemed to think Horde was largely a money extraction tool for Pandemic Legion, functioning as an almost scientology-esque cult organisation, promising its members that they might one day reach the holy-grail of graduating into Pandemic Legion, a goal many members dream of, although few members actually do.
Vertiso was also the rorqual pilot recognised as neutral and dropped on by a Pandemic Legion roam led by Doomchinchilla, CEO of Collapsed Out. Vertiso was eventually saved by repairs from Horde Force Auxiliary ships, although Horde FCs specifically forbade returning fire. The reason he was on a neutral pilot in a Rorqual was because his rorqual pilot is also his Jump Freighter pilot, and so needs to be kept out of corp to avoid wardec issues when jumping to Jita with freight.
Vertiso seemed to believe it was an attempt by Doomchinchilla to provoke Horde into firing on Pandemic Legion, giving an excuse to replace Horde as Pandemic Legions new content farm following the exodus of Brave from Cloud Ring. Whether that is the case is yet to be seen.