Organized crime is laundering money through Fortnite's in-game currency

Originally published at:


Actually I am impressed.
Also shocked it didn’t happen sooner.


This is interesting. I’ve long been wondering if some of these game payment systems were being used this way. I’ve also wondered if some of the stuff happening on Amazon with very strange pricing by third party vendors for common items isn’t money laundering schemes as well.


So how to game platforms combat this? Or do they not care?

1 Like

I had something similar happen. My card showed a bunch of Playstation Network cards being purchased as well as phone cards in Europe. Fortunately, it locked the credit card for ‘suspicious activity’.


They’ve been doing the same thing with EA’s FIFA games for a decade, and EA doesn’t care either (hell, they probably love it, it’s tens of millions of dollars a year). The FIFA games have $99.99 'micro’transactions to buy FIFA Coins which you can use to build your FIFA Ultimate Team. It’s all very cynical and nasty even without the fraud.

So hacker groups, who are often associated with organized crime (or governments, which are the ultimate organized crime), will use your credit card to buy FIFA Coins then resell them. At a big discount, but it’s free money for them. And then when Fortnite turned into a huge fad they just set up shop there too. They were ready for it.


What do I have to do to become a mule for these guys?


I don’t understand how these schemes work in a game that has no player to player transactions. Are there really that many people willing to buy an account with some stuff and abandon their existing account? I guess account merging across the various platforms creates a limited opportunity to transfer something. Each account can be merged into what I guess 3 or 4 times. Each account can be merged from only once.


Self published books are a regular source of money laundering on Amazon.

There is an author I know professionally, who I suspect is probably doing this. She is known for sketchy finances and her day job is a lawyer whose clients are frequently fronts for Russian mafia fraud schemes.


I’ve wondered for a few years now about so many “freemium” mobile games where they talk about how the top .1% of users spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a boring cow clicker is really talk about how these games get used for money laundering. Are “whales” much more prevalent in games where it is possible to convert the in-game currency into something you can convert into real money?

It seems entirely possible that money laundering is a full time job where you run hundreds of variations on the same scam over and over again across every possible service you can find.


Agreed. The specifics about how this scam ends up giving “some kid” a bunch of ill-gotten v-bucks seems to have been deliberately left out of the article.

As you pointed out, the hacker cannot transfer vbucks to another player, so the ony way he can sell the vbucks is to create a new account and then sell that account to someone who probably already has an established account they will have to abandon.

I didn’t know about merging, can you expand on that?

1 Like

I think on the gift cards, you can sell those for damn near 100% value on specialized auction sites. My daughter used to work at a Walgreen’s, and any gift cards over a certain dollar amount had to be backed with additional identification because of how widespread the fraud was.


When you link a console account with a PC account, for example.

It did. I’ve seen websites with illegal gold problems for years - Fortnight is only the latest. By now there’s a slew of experts out there who can deal with the problem, if sites want that.


fortinitedly? ^-^

Is there nothing pure and simple that Fortnite won’t ruin!?!

Like the 80s-era mass-market romantic novels that sell for 3000 each?


I don’t know about Fortnite, but I play the mobile game Contest of Champions, and buying and selling of accounts is fairly common, as is purchasing discounted in game currency, which is likely similarly involved with using stolen credit card numbers.

Isn’t this just credit card fraud, not money laundering? I thought money laundering was converting cash to ‘legit’ bank balances. This seems like moving credit card balances to a form of cash.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.