October 11 2019
Online games – especially massive multiplayer online role-playing games – have long been suspected of offering an avenue for moving or otherwise using criminal proceeds, a process known as money laundering. As early as 2013, cybercrime analyst Jean-Loup Richet, based on his investigation of hacker forums, that ‘using the virtual currency systems in [online] games, criminals in one country can send virtual money to associates in another country’.
If criminal money has indeed poured into online gaming worlds, one could hardly think of a better demonstration of ‘the displacement effect’: the notion that as some parts of the economy become ever more tightly regulated, tainted money goes elsewhere, like the air in a squeezed balloon. But how exactly can online games be used for money laundering, what evidence is there of this happening, and what should be done about this?