Russian Team Fortress 2 Vendor Activity May Indicate Fraud

Russian Team Fortress 2 Vendor Activity May Indicate Fraud

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A SteamRep forums poster thinks he may have uncovered a Team Fortress 2 Buds conspiracy.

Allowing real currency transactions in a game economy always has the potential for fraud, and one Team Fortress 2 enthusiast thinks he may have uncovered a Russian conspiracy to launder money by selling Earbuds - a decorative item with high cash value but little utility - to the game's community.

The user, who goes by the name base64 and has a Department of Defense logo in his profile, claims that this activity has been going on for some time. He first noticed it when going over the volume of Bud sales and saw a sudden activity spike, way over and above the norm for trades in this item. Going over the sales, he discovered that the trades could be traced back to a user who was cashing out in Russian Rubles for less than the Buds cost him, and using bulk purchased Keys bought from Valve to do it.

The accounts carrying out these trades were effectively puppets; they bought nothing but Buds, didn't participate in matches, and cashed out quickly. They had no interest in the Mann Co Packages that were sent out to Key buyers, and frequently just gave them to the people they were trading Buds for. All they wanted were Buds, possibly because they believed that the items - not being weapons or other premium pieces - wouldn't get Valve's attention. Since they bought Buds with Keys for more than the Buds were worth, and cashed out for less than the Keys were worth, the possibility exists that the Keys were bought with stolen credit cards.

It's a neat way to launder cash quickly, in other words, if you happen to be sitting on a few hundred dollars worth of someone else's credit. The full details can be found here, if you're keen on checking base64's math.

Source: PC Gamer

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This guy went after this like CSI.

It's pretty cool actually, I bet he felt like a detective.

At last, the evils of the Hatconomy are unveiled!

Quick and easy way to launder money. I know people tried something similar to this with WoW a while back.

Not sure what you can do to stop it though.

This can only mean one thing...

HALF LIFE 3 ARG!

If only they had been smart enough to buy iPods to go with them.

I get Russians trying to get me to trade them my Bill's hat like, several times a day on Steam for their stupid shitty little microeconomy or whatever it is. Of course they're up to something sneaky.

This is sadly a problem with TF2 bud-based economy. Especially with items worth several hundred buds a piece.

Just to give a fair idea: 1 bud is worth about 26-27 keys, a mann.co key worth 1.99€ / 2.49$. Now they buy keys in russia for 1.30$ (the last time I checked this was the price), trade them in for buds (because massive transfers of keys for nothing of similiar value would be suspicious when selling of items for money is happening en masse) and sell the buds for US / EU key worth = profit. Good that one guy found it, bad because if Valve reacts with a band you can assume that a big chunk of buds is going to be out of the market, trapped on a banned account making them worth more for fair traders like me.

Sounds lucrative. And the problem with this is....? Just another innovative way to make money, even it is with stolen credit cards - if that's a problem then implement better card security. The TF2-based economy always makes me laugh though.

DVS BSTrD:
If only they had been smart enough to buy iPods to go with them.

Not only do I laugh at your icon every time you post, but your posts usually make me laugh loads, Rub one out for me!

+ ONE internet

MammothBlade:
Sounds lucrative. And the problem with this is....? Just another innovative way to make money, even it is with stolen credit cards - if that's a problem then implement better card security. The TF2-based economy always makes me laugh though.

I'm really not sure if you understood the article. There's not as much problem with them buying buds with keys and selling them as much as there is with people laundering money (WHICH CAN'T BE PREVENTED BY SIMPLE CREDIT CARD CONTROL).

Buds don't even look that good!

I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened in Second Life already.

Or has it?

Another example of why studying game economies is good for real life economists. It has actual hardcore crime involved now! Next stop, corporate fraud in games (hell there's EVE that shit already happens.)

If I wanted to launder my money, I'd do it in a video game. Good thinking, Russians.

The TF2 market is so extortionate anyway, a silly amount of keys that cost quite a bit for a hat that wont even be able to wear after Halloween unless on a full moon, completely, colossally retarded.

ActionDan:
The TF2 market is so extortionate anyway, a silly amount of keys that cost quite a bit for a hat that wont even be able to wear after Halloween unless on a full moon, completely, colossally retarded.

Hey man, I uncrated an Eerie Orbiting Flame Hallmark and sold it for $150US. I'm not even kidding, the Hallmark is a nice hat and the purple flame was cool and all but I'll take this three digit sum of money as a sign that I came out on the better end of the bargain.

Of course, I'm aware that it's not Halloween limited, but if people want to spend ridiculous amounts of dosh on in game items, I say let 'em at it. It's their money and their choice. Who are we to say otherwise.

Twilight_guy:
Another example of why studying game economies is good for real life economists. It has actual hardcore crime involved now! Next stop, corporate fraud in games (hell there's EVE that shit already happens.)

No no, in EVE, Corporate fraud doesn't just happen, it's the endgame content. Which is why I love it so.

On topic, It's probably good this guy caught on, and I hope Valve can shut this down if there is anything illegal going on.

ActionDan:
The TF2 market is so extortionate anyway, a silly amount of keys that cost quite a bit for a hat that wont even be able to wear after Halloween unless on a full moon, completely, colossally retarded.

There is no Halloween only item that I can think of that is worth more than 1 key. Most went for a few ref even through Halloween when most of them were at the prime of their possible price.

The 'expensive' Halloween hats (2-3 keys and expensive? HAH) are always wearable.

TheKasp:
This is sadly a problem with TF2 bud-based economy. Especially with items worth several hundred buds a piece.

Just to give a fair idea: 1 bud is worth about 26-27 keys, a mann.co key worth 1.99€ / 2.49$. Now they buy keys in russia for 1.30$ (the last time I checked this was the price), trade them in for buds (because massive transfers of keys for nothing of similiar value would be suspicious when selling of items for money is happening en masse) and sell the buds for US / EU key worth = profit. Good that one guy found it, bad because if Valve reacts with a band you can assume that a big chunk of buds is going to be out of the market, trapped on a banned account making them worth more for fair traders like me.

Aye.

The crazy thing is people willingly pay hundreds of dollars for certain hats. On the outpost I once saw an offer for one or the other hat of about 1500$. If someone's intent on making money this way, this episode won't really stop them.

freaper:

Aye.

The crazy thing is people willingly pay hundreds of dollars for certain hats. On the outpost I once saw an offer for one or the other hat of about 1500$. If someone's intent on making money this way, this episode won't really stop them.

1500? That is nothing, that is just the worth of 23 buds and a few sweets. I know of at least one person whos inventory is more worth than 30k $ (unusual Team Captain collection).

I personally do like the TF2 eco, started trading half a year ago, started small with metal from weapons, now I'm about to get my first bud. Just because the item in question is virtual does not mean that I can't name a worth on it and have the feeling of at least having a few hundred bucks for me when I decide to sell my inventory.

Buy when and where it's low, sell when and where it'ss high, dick move and the use of puppet accounts is most definitely a violation of the terms of use, but "conspiracy" and "fraud"? Seriously now.

In real world people who do that are called "enterpreneurs" and "businessmen".

Oh wait, this guy is Russian? This definitely changes things HE MUST BE EVIL, NO DOUBT!

TheKasp:

1500? That is nothing, that is just the worth of 23 buds and a few sweets. I know of at least one person whos inventory is more worth than 30k $ (unusual Team Captain collection).

I personally do like the TF2 eco, started trading half a year ago, started small with metal from weapons, now I'm about to get my first bud. Just because the item in question is virtual does not mean that I can't name a worth on it and have the feeling of at least having a few hundred bucks for me when I decide to sell my inventory.

Holy moley!

And to be fair, TF2's eco doesn't even come close to games like Second Life. I hardly doubt someone can literally sustain themselves by trading hats, unlike some ladies and gentlemen in the other game.

 

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