Virtual currency, real crime: FBI alleges theft of millions of dollars in FIFA coins

fbi investigates theft fifa coins fifa17demo
More and more games today have their own forms of in-game currency, whether it’s loot gained by killing monsters or virtual dollars earned by achieving wins in sports titles. That currency can be in high demand even if can’t be spent in the real world, because it can make the difference in how far a player can advance in a game and is often tied closely bragging rights.

In-game currency can actually be sold for real dollars, meaning that some titles attract real criminals. FIFA Ultimate Team football is just such a game, and the FBI has been investigating the theft of millions of virtual coins, as Hot For Security reports.

One alleged perpetrator, Anthony Clark, was arrested by the FBI in Fort Worth, Texas, where property and banks accounts worth almost $3 million were seized. Clark is allegedly a member of a team of hackers who wrote an exploit that “mined” the Electronic Arts system that manages currency to “earn” FIFA coins. The criminal team could then move those coins on black markets in China and Europe, that specialize in acquiring the currency and selling to real players.

Along with Clark, Nicholas Castellucci, Ricky Miller, and Eaton Zveare are also accused by the FBI in an unsealed indictment of being members of hacking organization RANE Development. That organization is further associated with Xbox Underground, a gang of hackers that has pilfered software and technical specifications from a number of game-related companies, such as Microsoft, Epic, Activision, and Valve.

The FIFA currency hack was accomplished through the use of a gaming console that had been modified to enable the exploit, and it may have been acquired through the Xbox Underground organization. The impact of the theft of virtual currency can be significant for the gaming companies in terms of lost revenue, and may potentially deflate the value of the legitimate virtual currency that players work to earn themselves. Stealing virtual currency is not, therefore, just a virtual crime.


Exclusive: The Surface Hub 2S will revolutionize work. Here’s how it was made

Exclusive interviews with the designers, futurists, and visionaries behind the Surface Hub 2 paint a dramatic picture of how Microsoft thinks collaboration will change your office.

The best of the last generation: Our 50 favorite Xbox 360 games

The Xbox 360 thrived during a generation where games were plentiful. Here's our list of the best Xbox 360 games of all time, including all game genres and even a few special indie hits.

Bethesda's sharp new Elder Scrolls mobile game is blunted by microtransactions

Elder Scroll: Blades brings elements of the most popular open-world RPG to mobile phones. It has many of the features fans will expect but, in its current Early Access state, lacks the real charm and depth of its predecessors.

If we get a Nintendo 64 Classic, it needs to have these games

The Nintendo 64 introduced a long list of top-tier games, but which were the iconic platform's best? From Mario Party to Ocarina of Time to NFL Blitz, check out our picks for the best N64 games.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.

Meet the mastermind behind Microsoft's massive new Surface Hub

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay gives us an exclusive peek at the 85-inch Surface Hub 2, and explains how innovation and collaboration will transform your workplace.

Microsoft reveals details of Surface Hub 2S, coming in June at $9,000

The Surface Hub 2 could be the most expensive whiteboard ever made, but it should be a powerful and capable one. With the ability to connect several of the 50-inch displays together, the picture at least, should be gorgeous.

Report says 20% of all 2018 web traffic came from bad bots

Distil Networks published its annual Bad Bot Report this week and announced that 20% of all web traffic in 2018 came from bad bots. The report had other similarly surprising findings regarding the state of bots as well.

Learn to uninstall a Steam game and clear some space on your PC

Looking to learn how to uninstall Steam games? You've come to the right place. In this guide, we walk you through the process step by step, whether you want Steam to do it for you or handle the process manually.

Amazon strikes $100 off the price of Microsoft Surface Go tablets

If you've been eyeing Microsoft's Surface Go for its compact size and portability, now may be a great time to buy the tablet. Amazon has a $100 discount on the Surface Go, bringing the price of this slate down to just under $400.

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?

Mueller report releases on CD, forces Congress to find PCs with disc drives

The Mueller report was released this week to Congress via CDs and congressional members had to find PCs with working disc drives to access the 400-page document. The redacted report was also released to the public on a website.