Two players of the Eve Online MMORPG pulled off a Ponzi scheme that netted them over 1 billion ISK (Eve Online's currency, a sum that can be exchanged for about USD50,000). They ran the Ponzi scheme like any other, soliciting customers for "investments" that paid out better-than-market returns, but those returns were generated out of the "investments" of new suckers. The con was both legal and within Eve's rules, and it's not the first or even the second massive (lawful) in-game fraud to hit Eve. The scammers have published a long postmortem on their effort, including some accounting information and ruminations on the hard work it took to hoover up their billions in virtual skiffy funny-money.
Why did we do it?Eve Online Space Heist – One Trillion ISK (GamerGaia.com)
We had a lot of reasons actually, but above all there is one thing that's NOT the reason. Most probably we will disappoint a lot of people, even make more than a few a little angry for a while. That, in itself, has never, ever been our purpose. We consider that to be a collateral matter. However, enough about what wasn't the reason for doing it.
The main reason why we did it is; because we could!
But, of course, we don't do everything we can. One should imagine that we have a lot of people with an account on Phaserinc.com. That account will be secured with probably the same password as their EVE online accounts. We could have easily run all these accounts through our EVE client and stolen a lot of assets as well as ISK. But we didn't do that, simply because it is illegal - not allowed by the game rules. We don't want to go there.
That brings us to the other reason: What we did is allowed!
It's allowed, even encouraged people say, by the game rules as defined by CCP. We find that to be very important. We didn't want to go into any cheating, or illegal area. We wanted to play the game, and beat it in a different way than with PVP. And, there's another reason. Contrary what we made people believe, we are actual PVP players on other accounts. We have been in the game for a while and have our share of killmails (since 2004.) We now wanted to beat the game in another area. Unfortunately for some, that means beating other players at this game.
The last reason we want to mention is: It brings us a lot of ISK, obviously.
We don't have to worry about ISK for a very long time, now. No ratting or trading to earn ISK to pay for ships and ammo. Just hunting with our friends. When we founded Phaser Inc. we set ourselves a goal. We wanted to break the trillion border. The total profit of this project was aimed to be over 1 trillion or 1.000.000.000.000 ISK. We already gave away that we've reached that goal. Some financial details are published below.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.