PUBG chat system reportedly used by hackers to plot 2.4 million dollar cryptocurrency theft
In-game chat is a life-saving feature when it comes to coordinating with your squad mates and taking down rivals. However, if you are a movie or TV series buff, you might have watched Jack Ryan or a similar show where the antagonist uses the chat feature in an online game to communicate with cronies to hatch an evil plan for wreaking havoc. If you thought something like this can only happen in a TV show, think again. As per the Turkish website Daily Sabah, some cryptocurrency criminals made use of the in-game voice chat feature in the famous online Battle Royale game Playerunknown’s Battleground (PUBG) to steal 13 million Turkish liras (Rs 17,55,66,678 approx or $2.4 million) from a cryptocurrency company in Istanbul.
Seems like these criminals took a page right out of the Amazon Prime series and used PUBG’s in-game chat so that their wicked plans could not be made accidentally found out by anyone else. However, the Turkish law enforcement was also on point since they arrested twenty-four people in a simultaneous operation carried out nationwide in eight provinces. The law enforcement agents in the country sprung into action when a cryptocurrency company in Istanbul filed a police report stating that a hefty sum from them was stolen in the form of cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Ripple.
The Turkish Cyber Crime Branch Office found out that the company’s two virtual money accounts were compromised with over 13 million lira’s worth of crypto money being transferred to other virtual cryptocurrency accounts. “Cybercrime units then launched an operation to capture the suspects. Police forces discovered that the suspects were communicating with each other via popular online multiplayer battle royale game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG),” states the report.
After coming up with a list of suspects, the police conducted simultaneous raids in the provinces of Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Afyonkarahisar, Bursa, Edirne, Bolu and Antalya to round up twenty-four suspects. In these operations, the police reportedly recovered 54,000 Liras (Rs 7.3 lakhs) in cash, and 1.3 million Lira (Rs 1.75 crores) worth of virtual money, which was returned to back to the victim company.
As per the report, “Two of the 24 suspects were released by the prosector’s office after their legal procedures were completed at the police station. 22 suspects were referred to the Istanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. Six of the suspects were arrested by the court, while 16 suspects were released on condition of judicial control.”
This is not the first time a game’s chat system has been used to relay communications to cause a detrimental effect. It was speculated that the coordination of 2015 Paris terrorist attack could have been formulated with the help of a PlayStation 4 console, according to Indonesia’s National Cyber and Encryption Agency (BSSN), via International Policy Digest. Video games chat options are just a fraction of the digital elements that can be pivoted and used for heinous intentions. Following the Paris attacks, Sony released an official statement that the PlayStation 4 can be used for communication like “all modern connected devices” and hence “has the potential to be abused.”