Second virtual crime wave strikes Habbo Hotel

The legal implications of theft within a virtual world have once again been under scrutiny after real raids were carried out by Finnish police in the hunt for a virtual thief, the BBC reports.

Habbo Hotel is a staggeringly popular game in which players can create an avatar and exist within a world shared by millions, where the goal is social interaction and to get noticed. An aspect of existing in this world is the ability to buy furniture and style your living environment.

The Finnish police investigated up to four hundred separate cases of theft, after a phishing scam targeting players allowed thieves to steal their virtual furniture which was originally purchased using real money. Some players reported losing over £800 worth of items.

Five homes were raided in five separate cities but it is unclear if any arrests were made as a result and the investigation is said to be ongoing. This is the second time Habbo Hotel has been the scene of a virtual theft and in 2007 a Dutch teenager was arrested for a very similar crime.

There has of course been even more serious examples of real life consequences to online thefts and it does raise questions about what laws should apply to virtual goods purchased with real money and what, if any, legal action can be taken as a result in order to avoid hurt parties from trying to get their own form of justice.

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Written by Ian D

Misanthropic git. Dislikes: Most things. Likes: Obscure references.

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