Teen Arrested for Theft of Virtual Property

November 16th, 2007 - 9:11 pm ICT by admin  

The furniture was virtual, but the handcuffs were real. No, it’s not a kinky bondage scene, but simply the latest intersection between virtual activity and real-world consequences. In Holland, a 17-year-old was arrested this week for stealing 4,000 euros ($5,836) worth of virtual furniture in the online world Habbo Hotel.

Habbo Hotel, a popular online world for teens, is run by the Helsinki-based Sulake Corporation. According to a recent press release, more than 80 million characters have been created in the virtual world. After creating a “Habbo” character, teens can participate in an active online environment, including mingling in public spaces, communicating with other Habbos, playing games, and decorating virtual rooms.

As with other virtual worlds, signing up and entering Habbo Hotel is free, but premium services require the purchase of “Habbo Credits” using real-world funds. One of the most popular uses of Habbo Credits by teens is the purchase of virtual furniture and gadgets to decorate their Habbo Hotel rooms.

Phishing for Furniture

The theft occurred when a ring of teens tricked Habbo users into divulging their login names and passwords on fake Habbo sites (a classic example of “phishing”) and then raided their victims’ Habbo rooms, moving the stolen furniture and gadgets into their own rooms. The victims notified Sulake, who in turn reported the incident to law enforcement.

“This kind of activity is totally unacceptable and can be compared to theft in real life,” said Juhani Lassila, the communications director for Sulake. “Sulake will support the victims of these scams and subsequent investigation by the authorities.”

Habbos invest a lot of time collecting furniture and creating their own personal spaces in the Habbo Hotel, Lassila continued. “We will do our utmost to ensure that they may continue to do so as safely as possible.”

Lassila said that Sulake constantly monitors for fake Habbo sites….

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