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A recent warning issued to players of Second Life brings word that fraudulent money transfers will be removed from player accounts along with a 50% additional charge. The problem with this is that anyone can send any amount of money to anyone else at any time. As a result, if a player wishes harm on another, they need only send an unsolicited amount of fake currency to the other and Linden will not only freeze the recipient’s account for the duration of an investigation, they will also take an exorbitant amount of cash as restitution.

While it doesn’t seem to be a widespread problem as of yet, in theory it could escalate into one of the most nefarious, costly forms of griefing in virtual world history.

While we understand Linden Labs’ desire to prevent the transfer of phony money that could easily be converted into real dollars, adding the additional 50% surcharge for offenses is just asking for people to take advantage of the system.

Additionally, Linden never specifies exactly what constitutes “fraudulent” money. Since there are so many different ways to create excess cash — from hacking the game to legally exploiting the game economy — until they comment on the issue, we have no way of knowing how dangerous this rule could be.

In a world — such as Second Life — specifically designed to facilitate online commerce, creating such an obvious loophole ultimately invites unscrupulous people to exploit it. Hopefully the Lindens are rethinking their stance on the issue.

(Wired Blog)

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