Despite Fortnite being one of the most popular games of this generation, Epic Games' impressive battle royale has not come without its shortcomings. Although the game's microtransactions are strictly cosmetic and provide no gameplay advantage whatsoever, the question of the ethicality of even cosmetic-only microtransactions is still raised. The presence of V-Bucks certainly did not help when Epic Games received an 'F' rating from the Better Business Bureau. Now, it has reportedly been discovered that V-Bucks are even being used by criminals to launder money.
While news of cybercriminals hacking and scamming Fortnite accounts is nothing new, a recent investigation done by The Independent reveals that V-Bucks are being stolen, then sold on online black markets. Criminals are reportedly using stolen credit card details to buy V-Bucks and then selling them at a discounted price to players on the 'dark web' - money laundering in its rawest form. By turning 'dirty' money into 'clean' money, criminials selling V-Bucks are essentially ridding themselves of any evidence by selling it to Fortnite players.
The Independent reports that it, along with cyber security firm Sixgill, uncovered numerous operations being conducted in five different languages: Chinese, English, Arabic, Russian, and Spanish. The report continues, saying that these criminals seem to be "scoffing at Epic Games' weak security measures." Benjamin Preminger, one of Sixgill's intelligence analysts, believes that Epic simply does not care about "players defrauding the system." Preminger recognizes that these criminals have had little incentive to stop using V-Bucks as a means to launder money, as this fraudulent behavior of V-Bucks has been taking place for a while now.
While there is no one way to uncover how much money has actually been laundered through the use of V-Bucks, the report indicates that the number of mentions of Fortnite on the dark web directly corresponds to the game's revenue on a monthly basis. However, one seller gave an indication of his success, saying "I'm f**king rich as f**k. Now it's time to give back to the deep web at a massive discounted rate."
Since Epic hauled in $3 billion in profits last year, it will be interesting to see how the developer reacts to this report. Although Epic Games is losing money through these black market listings, the amount of money lost is likely considered pocket change compared to the game's whopping 2018 profit.
Fortnite is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, IOS, and Android.