EVE Online. In most MMOs, acts of theft could earn the perpetrator a permanent game ban. In EVE Online, however, it's an accepted part of the game that people are strongly encouraged to protect themselves from. Even the game's developers have acknowledged that corporate infiltration, scamming and theft are just another part of the harsh criminal underworld of New Eden. With its latest official game trailer, CCP Games told an impressive tale of corporate theft and revenge, showcasing some of the emergent gameplay that typifies EVE.
Last week, the latest big scam to come out of the criminal underworld of New Eden came to completion. The popular investment scheme Titans4U turned bad, with the creator "Bad Bobby" stealing all of the company's assets. The theft was the ultimate conclusion of a plan that was set in motion years ago. Bobby began his investment career by running several smaller schemes to build up a positive public image. Over the years, he ran increasingly larger and more popular schemes and always returned on investments. Just over a year ago, his reputation-building efforts paid off as his good name secured the successful launch of the massive Titans4U investment fund.
Skip past the cut for the full story of how this apparently secure investment scheme turned into one of EVE's biggest scams to date.
The original business plan for Titans4U involved the purchase of several original titan blueprints worth over 60 billion ISK each. The blueprints were then locked down in a corporate hanger in a secret alt corporation. A starbase in the same system was used to make limited-run blueprint copies for sale and a cut of the proceeds was distributed to investors as a regular dividend. From an investor's point of view, the whole thing appeared to be secured by the presence of five trustees. These were active members of EVE's investment market who volunteered to help secure the fund against theft or the owner going missing.
Closing the net
As a vote would be required to unlock the blueprints before they could be taken, shares in the secret alt corporation were split among five trustees. If Bobby were to ever attempt to unlock and steal the blueprints, those trustees could have simply declined the vote, keeping the corporation secure. In the event of his disappearance, directors in the corp could also collectively initiate their own votes to recover the assets.
All of this security hinged on the fact that Bobby would not have access to over 50% of the company's shares and so couldn't vote to unlock the blueprints on his own. For over a year, this system worked amicably. In the background, however, Bobby was slowly scheming to get his hands on more shares.
To complete the scam, Bobby initiated a vote to create more shares under the guise of adding more trustees. Despite recommendations by regular market guru Proton Power that trustees decline the move, the vote passed and more shares were created. With access to over 50% of the shares, Bobby was able to kick all other directors from the corp and steal the entire company's assets. Bobby claims the total value he has "cashed in" his reputation for is in excess of 850 billion ISK. To put that into perspective, 850 billion is enough ISK to buy about 2575 PLEX. That would keep an account active for over 214 years, and could be worth around $45,000 US dollars.