Some criminal enterprises may be using Fortnite‘s virtual currency to launder money. The Independent reports that security firm Sixgill found evidence of criminals purchasing V-bucks in bulk using stolen credit cards, then selling the V-Bucks to players at a discounted rate to turn it into “clean” money.
Most of these V-Bucks transactions reportedly occur on the dark web, which is Sixgill’s specialization. Smaller quantities have been found being sold on the open web. The agency says it has seen operations being run in English, Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic. The launderers are said to use cryptocurrency to further obscure the source of their money.
The agency has not found exactly how much profit this has made for the criminals engaging in it. It notes that the pool of money flowing through and around Fortnite has increased with the game’s popularity, alongside mentions of the game on the dark web. Fortnite items grossed more than $250,000 on Ebay over a 60 day period last year.
This has raised criticisms that Epic is not taking a proactive enough role in rooting out misuse of its platform. Industry watchers have previously raised concerns of security on Android, where Epic circumvented the Google Play store, leaving them open to phishing schemes. More recently, security experts raised alarm at a potential hack.
“Epic Games doesn’t seem to clamp down in any serious way on criminal activity surrounding Fortnite, money laundering or otherwise,” Sixgill senior intel analyst Benjamin Preminger said. “While completely stopping such criminal activity is extremely difficult, several steps could be taken to mitigate the phenomenon, including monitoring the transfer of high-value goods in the game, identifying players with large stockpiles of V-Bucks, and sharing data with relevant law enforcement agencies.”
GameSpot contacted Epic Games for comment, and received the following statement from a spokesperson:
“Epic Games takes these issues seriously, as chargebacks and fraud put our players and our business at risk. As always, we encourage players to protect their accounts by turning on two-factor authentication, not re-using passwords and using strong passwords, and not sharing account information with others.”