Sure you’re fed up with the amount of personal spam you receive, but the reality is that your inbox no longer interests many spammers. They’ve moved on to target players in Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) Games. And now the in-game spammers have become the hunted.
Underground spam companies are infiltrating popular MMO games, such as World of Warcraft, by hiring players to accrue virtual possessions of in-game value, such as swords and potions, by completing mundane tasks. These “mules” then pass the assets to “runners”, who bombard players with unsolicited ads for these items, which are for sale via illegal third-party sites.
It’s a new frontier, and the authorities are fighting back, sending virtual detectives into MMO games to police such activity.
According to a report by Reuters, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has formed the “Norathian Underground Gnome Investigation Team” (NUGIT), a nine-member unit charged with uncovering fraud operations in the fantasy world of Norath in SOE’s MMO game “Everquest”.
When NUGIT discovers or is tipped off about suspicious in-game behaviour, it monitors the accounts in questions and shuts them down when fraud is confirmed. So far, NUGIT’s work has led SOE to close 295,000 subscription accounts across its MMO games.
It goes to show that wherever there is real money to be made, you’ll find spammers and scammers grafting away. And wherever there is money to be saved, you’ll find a cavalry in hot pursuit.