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ReptonSkillz

Criminal underground network on SL

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I understand that this may come as to a shock to some, maybe even LL itself, but bear with me.

Two years ago, I was asked to do a journo piece for the Alphaville Herald, looking at newly emerging SL gangs. What I discovered seemed more like RP groups - or, to put it less kindly, fantasists thinking that using the names of RL gangs like Hell's Angels and NYC's Wave Gang leant some substance to their rather minor-level SL machismo (and occasional griefing).

However, I ended up following up some other leads that pointed towards something far more sinister. There is a huge copybotting ring here, which seems to be making thousands of RL dollars every week through their criminal activities. They don't use rogue viewers and they don't stand out from the crowd. These aren't people who copybot and then spam sandboxes for 'teh lulz'. In fact, they are highly active in ARing and taking down other/rival copybotters so they remain unchallenged. They even proactively hunt down and report griefers, who they consider a potential disruption to their business.

I'm talking about a small group, some of whom have 300-500+ alts, all fairly 'integrated' in SL - including peacekeeper groups, store owners, club owners, prominent developers, creators and 'public' figures. This isn't, repeat, isn't some kids messing around and being naughty. This is a serious group which makes substantial money off the back of selling stolen items.

I have a huge dossier on what's going on, though the Alphaville Herald has since closed and I doubt that the mainstream media, even the tech mags and blogs, would have much interest. I am wondering whether it's worth turning this info over to LL?

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OMG!!!  I'm defriending everyone!  Because yes, I believe every single conspiracy theory anyone comes up with.  Why notify LL when they're certainly in on it?  I suggest the FBI or the Marines, unless they're in on it as well.  Oh sh!t, does this reach to the oval office?  Perhaps we're approaching the very downfall of our civilization as we know it.

I blame Hillary!!

...Dres  (or R.E.M., whichever comes first.)

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Much more worrying is the thought of real life criminals and even terrorists using SL (or other games) for secret communication 'in plain sight'.

I'm serious about this.  People who know each other in RL and also know each other's SL names can exchange information using notecards without ever having to meet up in-world.  Less traceable and more hidden than chat or IMs.

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I have been using these forums for criminal purposes for years, according to numerous commentators possessing greater or lesser degrees of authority, which they are unable to apply in practice.

***Call me a recidivist, although if you do mistakenly believe you have authority in these forums you probably don't know what the word means.

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ReptonSkillz wrote:

 

I'm talking about a small group, some of whom have 300-500+ alts, all fairly 'integrated' in SL - including peacekeeper groups, store owners, club owners, prominent developers, creators and 'public' figures. This isn't, repeat, isn't some kids messing around and being naughty. This is a serious group which makes substantial money off the back of selling stolen items.

 

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As Forbes warned us, just the other day,


Additionally, there are probably still a number of ways that terrorists could send messages to each other without speaking a word, if they really wanted to. An ISIS agent could spell out an attack plan in Super Mario Maker’s coins and share it privately with a friend, or two Call of Duty players could write messages to each other on a wall in a disappearing spray of bullets. It may sound ridiculous, but there are many in-game ways of non-verbal communication that would almost be impossible to track. To do so would require an FBI or NSA agent somehow tapping all the activity on an entire console, not just voice and text chat, and that should not even be technically possible at this point..

 

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The problem with your plan to turn it over to the Lindens is that some of the Lindens are in on it, some directly benefit, and some need to suppress it, because it harms their bottom line with bad press. So if you disappear from the People List, we'll know why.

I have no use for the Alphaville Herald, as a former reporter who knows of their own criminalized past and merging with griefing groups some of whom are even more sinister than your copybotters with way bigger fish to fry than a little black dress to copy. But that's another story.

You should go to the press -- except whoops, the press, in the mainstream, doesn't take SL seriously and any news story even of the most important (like the prototyping of the Snowden heist by some of the very same people involved with Snowden which you can read about in my book) just doesn't turn heads because they think this is a place where giant phallic toons hit you over the head and it's not serious.

That means you have to take it to the more specialized tech press, except oops, the tech press, especially TechMeme, TechCrunch (although less so under AOL), CNET, and notoriously TechDirt will never take this story because they are on the side of copybotters. They think copyright is evil and the problem is big record companies that try to fight for copyright, not thefts ruining the livelihoods of little dressmakers in Owasso, Michigan. 

So really, you have nowhere to go with this story but your own blog, which is where I was with similar stories for 10 years. You'll get tired. Good luck.

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its been going on for years and while LL tries to put a stop to it theres still a lot of stuff that still goes on........not much we can do about it other then LL cracking down on it more.

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ReptonSkillz wrote:

I have a huge dossier on what's going on, though theAlphaville Herald has since closed and I doubt that the mainstream media, even the tech mags and blogs, would have much interest. I am wondering whether it's worth turning this info over to LL?

Sure, why not?

But you have to understand that it is very unlikely Linden Lab will do anything about it. I'm not even sure if Linden Lab can act on copyright infringement reports from third parties. How can they prove beyond reasonable doubt that the alleged copybotter doesn't have permission to distribute the items unless they have a formal complaint from some person or organisation who can document their ownership?

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Benkmans wrote:

Much more worrying is the thought of real life criminals and even terrorists using SL (or other games) for secret communication 'in plain sight'.

Any open semi-anonymous communication channel can be used that way. As far as I know there is nor reason to believe that SL is neither more nor less vulnerable to such abuse than any others.

The only real alternative is a tightly controlled police state and everybody should make up their own mind which is the least evil of those two options. I've certainly made up mine.

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Prokofy Neva wrote:

You should go to the press -- except whoops, the press, in the mainstream, doesn't take SL seriously

There's also the good old albeit rather cynical rule for good journalism: "dog bites man" is not news, "man bites dog" is news. "There is widespread IP theft in SL" definitely belongs to the first category.

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Please remove this thread from General Discussions. All money laundering and copyright infringement threads should be initiated in the Russian language subforum.

***Call me Ivan Tooberic

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