(Un)Fair Play

By the end of 2020, the number of online gamers stood at around one billion, with a global market size of $21.1 billion (a 21.9% increase from the previous year). The impressive trend is projected to continue—with over 1.3 billion online gamers expected by 2025.

This vibrant sector is diversifying. Online streaming services and gaming platforms are innovating and developing new monetization strategies. Users can now buy and sell in-game items on the platforms and frequently must convert legal tender into in-game currencies to do so. As a result, many gaming accounts are accumulating significant value derived from stored funds and digital assets. This has led online gaming accounts to become an attractive target for fraud actors. These actors now use a variety of methods to gain access to these gaming accounts in order to sell both the accounts and the digital assets held within, on both legitimate and illegitimate markets.

In this report, we investigate how threat actors perpetrate fraud in online gaming in the fraud system, including how they:

  • Acquire accounts
  • Build a consumer base
  • Evaluate accounts and item values
  • Sell the stolen goods