Criminals have been spotted using Fortnite as a platform for laundering criminal proceeds potentially reaching hundreds of thousands of dollars gained through the V-Bucks mechanic.
Developed by Epic Games, Fortnite is an extremely popular video game played by both children and adults. The company says that at least 200 million people enjoy the game, but with such popularity, the risk of criminals jumping on the bandwagon in order to turn a profit increases.
An investigation launched by The Independent suggests this is exactly what has occurred. The game itself is free, but in-game currency known as V-Bucks can be purchased for game items, outfits, and weapons.
These virtual coins can be purchased from the official Fortnite store as well as vendors including Microsoft and GAME. However, with 1,000 coins costing roughly $10, there is a market for discounted coins which are eagerly snapped up by players.
See also: NotPetya an 'act of war,' cyber insurance firm taken to task for refusing to pay out
This is how the scam operates. Stolen credit cards are used to buy V-Bucks which are then sold on for bargain rates to legitimate players wandering the web's underbelly, also known as the Dark Web.
By doing so, the proceeds are effectively cleaned and the money is laundered, which further fuels the criminal enterprise.
Together with cybersecurity firm Sixgill, the publication found that V-Bucks are being sold in bulk in a covert fashion in the underground, while coins in smaller amounts are being touted through social media platforms.
TechRepublic: Phishing and spearphishing: A cheat sheet for business professionals
It is not known exactly how much profit the cybercriminals have made by selling discounted V-Bucks and laundering the proceeds, but Fortnite coins sold on eBay alone have grossed over $250,000 in two months.
Researchers from Malwarebytes revealed in October that scammers are utilizing data-stealing malware as well as cryptocurrency-stealing malicious code in targeted attacks against Fortnite gamers.
CNET: German watchdog will reportedly order Facebook to stop gathering some data
In the same month, ZeroFOX generated 53,000 alerts related to Fortnite scams, the majority of which spread through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Many of these scams promised free in-game currency known as V-Bucks which could be claimed by gamers by submitting their account credentials to a website. These credentials could then be used to hijack accounts.
ZDNet has reached out to Epic Games and will update if we hear back.
How to discover and destroy spyware on your smartphone (in pictures)
Previous and related coverage