Police in Finland have reportedly searched homes in five cities, confiscating computer equipment in a hunt for items stolen from a virtual world.
Habbo Hotel’s virtual furniture, known as “furni” by players, are purchased with credits and traded in the online community to furnish the virtual hotel rooms. The credits are bought by members with real money.
According to Detective Sergeant Marko Levonen, Finnish authorities are looking into up to 400 cases of theft, with some players of Habbo Hotel reporting that they have lost up to 1000 Euros worth of virtual furniture.
Using phishing pages and keylogging spyware, hackers are able to steal the usernames and passwords of online game players, and then purloin their virtual goods and attributes to sell on to others.
It may seem petty to complain about something being stolen that never physically existed in the first place, but remember that this virtual furniture has been purchased with real cash.
And this isn’t the first time that the authorities have investigated thefts from the virtual hotel. Back in 2007, we reported on how Dutch police arrested a 17-year-old teenager for allegedly stealing almost $6000 worth of virtual furniture from users of the Habbo Hotel.
It’s not just a Habbo Hotel problem, of course. Last year we saw a man arrested for robbing Runescape characters, and the “chief executive” of a virtual bank in a sci-fi online trading game stole 200 billion “kredits”, which he then used as a deposit on a real-world house.
In an evil more bizarre story, a Japanese woman was arrested in October 2008 after killing her virtual husband’s avatar in the virtual game MapleStory after their relationship went sour.
Whether you’re playing online games, or doing online banking, you still need to keep security high in your mind and protect your username and passwords from snooping hackers.