September 29 2011
Corporate intrigue, underhanded dealings, and betrayal are woven into the very fabric of Eve Online, as it offers a relatively open-ended world shaped by the players and their complex network of alliances. Since the release of this sci-fi MMORPG back in 2003, it has gained notoriety for some of the most spectacular in-game heists and cons in the history of online gaming. No doubt, another epic scam is in the works even as I write this, so forgive me if this list isn't complete. Also note that's difficult to assess the actual value of many Eve heists, even in the game's virtual currency (ISK). Let me know if you think I've missed something important.
Phaser Inc. Scheme
Alleged Take: 1.034 Trillion ISK
The largest scam on record in Eve so far was perpetrated by two players offering high returns on investments in their company, Phaser Inc. They made payouts and gained investor confidence for a period of about 8 months until closing up shop and keeping vast sums of the ISK invested. Phaser Inc. was a classic Ponzi scheme of the sort that has been seen in Eve and in real life several times before. Despite being one of the oldest tricks in the book, it has proven to be the most effective con in the game.
Alleged Take: 850 Billion ISK
The Titans4U scandal was one of Eve's more complicated rip-offs, as the company used a board of five trustees to secure its assets. Expensive ship blueprints were purchased and locked down in the hanger of a secret alt corporation. Copies of the blueprints were then sold, producing dividends for investors. The blueprints could only be unlocked by a vote of the trustees that represented more than 50% of Titans4U shares. Since none of the trustees owned 50% of the shares, a theft of company assets could not occur without several of them conspiring together. This worked well for over a year until one trustee, the now infamous Bad Bobby, convinced the other trustees to vote to add more trustees and more shares to the company. He then acquired enough of the new shares to increase his holdings to over 50%, kicked the other trustees from the corporation, and made off with all of Titans4U's assets.
Eve Intergalactic Bank Scheme
Alleged Take: Over 700 Billion ISK
One of Eve's earlier investment frauds involved a bank operated by a player named Cally, who offered growing returns on investments which were payed out by attracting new investors. This went on until one day, you guessed it, Cally shut the doors of the Eve Intergalactic Bank and promptly absconded with all the ISK invested, making himself a very rich Eve player, and even bragging about it in an online video of himself.
Ricdic's EBank Theft
Alleged Take: 200 Billion ISK
Player-created EBank was the victim of a large theft perpetrated by its own CEO at the time. Ricdic was able to pilfer 200 Billion ISK from the bank's assets, but that was only a fraction of the bank's total holdings and it was able to stay solvent despite the theft. Ricdic traded some of his haul for real money, which is in violation of Eve's EULA, and was subsequently banned from the game.
Somer Blink Theft
Alleged Take: 125 Billion ISK
It's hard to run a business without trusting at least a few people, and in Eve that always puts you at some risk. Eve gambling web site Somer Blink hold ship lotteries and handles trillions of ISK, so it isn't surprising that someone within the organization eventually got greedy. One night a player by the name of Daquaris cleared out the Storehouse he had access to and made off with about 125 billion ISK worth of assets. Although a considerable sum for a single player to steal, the loss had almost no impact on Somer Blink, which only suffered some slight delays in their day-to-day operations as a result.
Guiding Hand Social Club Heist
Alleged Take: 30 Billion ISK
Although not one of the most lucrative stunts pulled in Eve Online, the Guiding Hand Social Club heist deserves credit for involving an elaborate and meticulously executed act of espionage, unlike many Eve scams, which are essentially the equivalent of lending the keys to your apartment to a friend and coming home to find things missing. In this case, the Guiding Hand spent 10 months infiltrating the Ubiqua Seraph corporation, intent on targetting its CEO, Mirial. This effort was initiated on behalf of a client presumably seeking revenge on Mirial, and culminated with the destruction of Mirial's prize ship and escape pod, as well as the raiding of Ubiqua Seraph's corporate coffers.