Star Citizen - Chris Roberts, lots of spaceship porn, lots of promises

Another poster in the world of financial crime prevention at a large financial institution, chiming in -

There are lots of ways to launder money, and lots of way to do it through games like this.

But here is a super basic example - a criminal has money from criminal proceeds and needs to do three things - placement (get the dirty money into a financial system), layer it (create transactions to obfuscate the source of the money), and integration (getting “clean” money back to themselves).

Here, a criminal could set up (or, more likely, have associates set up) a company in a jurisdiction with lax company formation rules that limit what identifying information is provided. Lots of jurisdictions to do this in - Panama, British Virgin Islands, heck even some U.S. states like Wyoming. They also set up a bank account at a bank that doesn’t ask a lot of questions.

After the company is established, this company becomes the place to get the “clean” money to. How does the criminal do that in a game? The criminal, using its company, starts out by “buying” ships from others on the black market, but at vastly under-priced amount, from numerous accounts it set up - these accounts can be set up with “mules”, people hired by the criminal to establish lots of CIG accounts. Say, a $1,000 jpeg ship is purchased by a mule and sold to the criminal company for $100. The criminal has now sold itself a ship way under value, on purpose. The criminal company then goes out and sells those ships out on the resale sites and message boards to real player accounts, probably at just under whatever the current market rate is for those ships. Even if the rate is less than $1,000, let’s say $800, the money launderer is okay taking a slight loss on the transaction, because now that $800 looks clean. The players buying the ships from the criminal have no idea that they were part of the layering stage of money laundering.

The criminal company does this over and over and over - if they can use third party sites to do the transactions, CIG would never even need to be knowledgeable of it. The limiting factor though, is that at some point the criminal saturates the resale market and has to keep lowering prices to keep selling. I have never looked at the star citizen market, so no idea what point that would be at for it. But the sheer amount of money people have put into this game gives it a scale that could be attractive for money launderers to try to work with.

This stuff can and does happen, even with game companies - I have seen it. If the actual game company is knowingly or unknowingly facilitating via first party sale transactions (i.e., the game company handles the resale market themselves), it is not hard to spot if you look at the bank account fund flows - gee, why is this game company having massive transaction flows to and from known money laundering hot spots like Panama, Russia, Cyprus, BVI? And why do those transactions end up at some unknown company located in a PO box/rent an office in those locations?

No offense intended Derek, but succinct isn’t exactly your thing ;)

Agreed. But I was going for the more flamboyant version :D

^this. And yeah, this is precisely how (a big op) most of us were looking at this. Though the angle about actually doing it at the scale of having to setup a “blind” company didn’t come into play. But think about it. This “game” has raised over $300m + $46m + $17.6m in investment. Over a 9 yr period. With NO shipped product. And - get this - during a pandemic period, have broken their own fundraising records. Sure, game companies are making money during this period, but not to this extent - and for a company with NO SHIPPED PRODUCT.

The latest SQ42 newsletter is a hoot.

Ok, I am not a programmer, but reading some of that stuff…is this a reasonable example of how the programmers would describe what they are doing, or is it just a bunch of jibberish? I half expected them to start talking about framulizers or flux capacitors or something.

Blonde hair is making progress! i’m surprised they don’t just put this in the “newsletter”:

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Thank you for spelling it out. I suspected that selling at a loss was acceptable so long as you cleaned up illegal money (which is produced easily anyway), but wasn’t sure. I need to pay more attention when Ozark teaches me things.

No. It’s a bunch of complete and utter gibberish under the guise of “communicating progress to backers”

Thanks, I was beginning to wonder about my reading skills. I mean, I have worked with programmers, and I teach in a Game Studio where we have young programmers, some of whom are damn good. And I’ve never seen stuff quite that obtuse from anyone doing actual coding on a viable project. I have seen this sort of prose from people who are desperately behind or whose sprints are epic fails when they try to cover their asses, though…

Not my area of specialty, but the part about reversing the polarity of the neutron flow seems a bit suspect.

This is taken from the somethingawful forums and was written by a guy called ggangensis, and is highly accurate:

It’s total jibberish as far as being anything interesting or indicative of progress.

This is for the single player game that was supposed to ship in 2014. A game where they have multiple times claimed is basically done. It is supposed to go into Beta this quarter yet again. They actually sent a progress report saying:

We received some amazing VFX concept art to help with this. Here’s a concept image to show what the main gun on the Vanduul kingship could look like.

They don’t even know what the alien ships will look like exactly, they are still in the concept stage. They haven’t started on the space turtle race.

Oh, yeah, the non-programmer part of it was easy to parse as hooey. I will admit, though, that this thing is the gift that keeps on giving. If it wasn’t for the actual people getting gulled, it’d all be risible.

On the one hand, I’m so glad I resisted putting any money into this way back when the Kickstarter was happening. I think I was in KS fatigue even that long ago, but it’s been so long I can’t be sure. On the other hand, what did I even do with that $40 instead? Probably nothing great.

Yes but at least you didn’t buy into the self loathing and festering resentment which we know would have ensued! So there is that.

I guess that’s worth something, and I didn’t even have to spend anything to get it.

Maybe, if they’re a contractor for a big company/government…

Sounds sort of like the stuff we write when we are forced to provide a weekly status update but we haven’t done a whole lot of real work.