Biggest ‘EVE Online’ Scam Ever Successfully Nets Big Money

Aug 13, 2011 by  

EVE Online Trillion ISK Scam.

You would have thought it would be hard to topple the $45,000 scam which occurred in the realm of EVE Online in late 2010, which lost in-game investors over 850 Billion ISK – an amount that one of writers here at Game Rant estimated would take him over 70 lifetimes to earn. Today however, a scheme came to completion which netted the benefactors a cool 1, 000,000,000,000 ISK from investors.

Eddie Lampert and Mordor Exuel, two now-infamous EVE Online players, had started up a firm which promised an unheard-of 5% weekly returns on invested ISK. The firm, Phaser Incorperated, was thought to have a board of directors and traders and even undisclosed corporations under its belt, which was all a lie to build confidence that Phaser Incorporated was a stable and well-governed company, netting profits from invested ISK.

Though such a drastic percentage of promised profits should immediately raise a red flag no matter what currency you’re dealing in, over 8,000 gamers were lured in to the appeal of such good returns and invested their ISK in the company. Even vocal skeptics of the firm eventually invested based upon word-of-mouth from reputable players.

Of course, there were no profits for the invested companies, because the money was never invested by Phaser Incorporated in the first place. What was happening is known as a Ponzi Scheme, and certainly the most effective one in the realm of EVE Online. The company took investment money for themselves, and made payoffs using that same money. It depends on an increasing flow of investor money to continue making payoffs, and more and more people joined in, they chose the right moment to pull out before making any more payoffs, netting themselves a large profit in the process.

Eventually, the two players behind the company had achieved their goal – after their seemingly legit returns and advertisement fees, if they shut down right now they would pull out with over a trillion ISK from investors to split between themselves. And they did just that.

Phaser Incorporated Scam MessageThis cryptic message was left on the company website.

The duo revealed that the total ISK invested in their fraudulent company was a stunning 1.831 Trillion ISK. After all of the last payouts and, they closed down the company with no warning and left with 1.033 Trillion ISK of investor money. That’s the real-life equivalent of about $51,677.50 – or, in terms of purchasing timecodes for the game, you’d get 2,953 30 day time codes – enough to play the game for over 240 years.

Of course, this type of scam is completely legal in the EVE Online universe, where players are warned that ISK investments are a dangerous business. The duo left a stunningly crafted letter on the retired Phaser Incorporated website, stating a farewell to those who had invested and listing the three reasons why they did it – because they could, because it was allowed, and for the ISK. Feel free to peruse the words that bankrupted several thousand people in the Eve Online Universe here.

What do you think about the scam? Are you an EVE Online player who was affected by such investments?

Source: Phaser Incorporated

31 Comments

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  1. That’s one the awesomest things I’ve ever heard.

  2. I think these idiots should be looking to something to more stable to waste their time on. As in, not an online video game.

    • its funny that you say that seeing they just made more than most peoples yearly wage in that

  3. What’s ISK?

    • Icelandic kronar (currency in Iceland)

      • I thought ISK was the in-game currency…

        • ISK- Inter-Steller Kredits. It IS the ingame currency but CCP used the acronym because they are from iceland.

          • Can it be converted to real money?

        • It is. That guys might be on to something however as the game devs reside in Iceland.

  4. Um, you’re short three zeroes in the numerical figure in paragraph one… As to the scam itself, well, many EVE players take great latinas to emphasize that the world is dangerous, and you shouldn’t risk what you can’t lose. I wonder how many of those who lost on this laugh at “care bears”, and if they are whining right now.

    EVE can be a ton of fun, it’s open a way no other game is, but it’s also a serious time investment. If you’re gonna play, go big or go home.

    • Damn you autocorrect, that’s supposed to be great pains…

      • I laughed.
        Hard.

    • I’ve gone to great latinas to not laugh my balls off at this post… but alas, no amount of latinas were enough. :3

  5. I’m not really advocating this (although it is kind of awesome), but since it’s all fake money, I’d consider this to be a pretty good lesson to the people who lost the ISK about how they should handle their money and how sometimes things are too good to be true. Better it be done to them here than in real life with their real money.

    • Oh you can buy ISK with real money just fine. CCP runs their own “gold selling” market by permitting players to sell purchased game time on the in game market. I’d bet real money some folks lost actual cash.

      • I’d consider that those people lost their money when they bought the ISK, not in the scam. As far as I’m aware (I don’t play the game) players can’t legally sell ISK for real money, so really, all they lost was something that they bought, not actual money, if it were actual money, it’d be illegal.

        I know it sounds kind of nitpicky, but what I’m really getting at here is that the blow is a lot less for these people than it was for people who invested a lot of their real money in real investment firms who were running the same scam. Better them lose a little in game currency than their life savings.

        • Can buy time codes and sell them for cash. If they so wanted they could walk away with $51k as the article said…

          • Again, I’m talking about legally, I don’t know the rules, but I’d assume it’s against the EULA to sell time codes for cash and these guys have made a big deal about how what they’ve done so far is entirely compliant with the rules of the game and the EULA.

  6. DANG YOU PONZI SCHEME! These guys pulled off the most ballsy thing I’ve ever heard of in EVE. I applaud them.

  7. Fantastic. One of the many reasons I love this game. Sandbox markets ftw.

  8. That’s what happens when you decide to give your money to people. It’s funny that so many people are still investing money so freely in others even though 850 Billion ISK was taken just last year. Also, Ponzi schemes are pretty easy to spot, especially when they promise a 5% weekly return. The people that got scammed kind of deserved it.

  9. Reading about the happenings in EVE Online, from politics and wars to epic scams, is more fun than playing the game.

  10. Given the governments through the First World are perpetrating vast Ponzi schemes on their hapless taxpayers with barely a murmur from most people, perhaps some folks learned a useful lesson.

    Nah, probably not.

    • First world? The first world IS the ponzi scheme: just look at the US…

      • That was kind of my point… but the US is really just on the same Ponzi path as the EU, it just started later but is moving faster.

  11. Awe! The power of Sandbox games! :) This is why I love Eve. Player Driven FTW!

  12. I think I have a new Summer job

    …no I don’t, I’m a Care Bear. ;___;

  13. They pulled a Bernard Madoff ! Well done !

  14. I’ve seen Eddie Lampert any number of times in Frarn advertising for this scheme. It screamed scam to me at the first time. Why anyone would invest is beyond me, but those who did deserved what they got. Bravo.

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