A hacker has been arrested for stealing players’ identities, skills, weapons and virtual money in an online computer game.

In the first case of its kind, the 23-year-old man was held for hijacking hundreds of teenage boys’ runescape accounts to gain access to their hard-won virtual abilities.
The boys were taking part in RuneScape, a medieval fantasy game which has more than 100million players worldwide.

It revolves around collecting gold coins which characters can use to buy magic potions, spells and weapons in a world of dungeons and dragons.

It can take years for players to accrue wealth and skills through a series of challenges from fighting goblins to activities such as fishing, farming and mining.

Police believe the hacker obtained password details through a so-called phishing scam where a fake internet page tricks users into handing over their personal informat

The hacker can then gain control of the player’s character – or avatar – and sell off his or her weapons, skills, equipment and clothing, which can be worth tens of thousands of pounds in the real world.

Though against the rules of the game, a lucrative black market exists where players can buy powerful characters and items within RuneScape, without having to spend hundreds of hours building up their own profile.

One of RuneScape accounts for sale was recently sold for £46,000.

However, the arrested hacker did not steal the accounts to sell on. Police believe the man, who has not been named, simply wanted to boost his own standing in the computer game.

He was arrested last Tuesday in the Avon and Somerset area and accepted a police caution for hacking into 284 accounts.

RuneScape was founded in 2001. It is free to anyone over the age of 13, although players have to pay £5 a month if they want more conquests and skills.

The most popular characters chosen by players are wizards, rangers and fighters, while the most feared monster is the corporeal beast, which eats souls.

Players can also buy ‘magical’ potions – including one to make teenagers’ spots disappear.

Advertisements