The Independent Cyber Security World of Warcraft

National Cyber Crime Unit director warns serious cyber crime begins with petty acts of theft in online games


By Gillian West, Social media manager

February 7, 2015 | 2 min read

Britain's most senior cyber detective has warned that young people are getting drawn into serious cyber crime thanks to games like World of Warcraft.

Speaking to the Independent the director of the National Cyber Crime Unit of the National Crime Agency said key organised gang figures involved in large-scale fraud moved from "laddish" online behaviour to "extremely corrosive" behaviour.

"Any criminal has to have that moment when they start that path. There are some sorts of criminality that youngsters don't think of as serious," said Dr Jamie Saunders. "Stealing gold off each other in online games, cheating if you like. It would be hard to imagine a knock on the door from a policeman because you've stolen a sword off your friend in World of Warcraft."

Dr Saunders added that the background of cyber criminals however indicated that it "does start with play: stealing swords and gold in online games" referring to a case in December of a 17-year-old who pled guilty to money laundering and computer attacks.

"We have git some people who are not necessarily motivated by the money, but either by the challenge or particular motivation…and can do a great deal of damage, but not in a traditional criminal way. We're not talking about yobs. I think we're talking about people who are experimenting. We find that they don't always realise what's legal and illegal."

He revealed the unit was starting to "track the beginning of criminality" and trying to see patterns that warrant early intervention.

"The first point that has come out of this is that it does start with play: stealing swords and gold in online games," he said.

After receiving a list of buyer of hacking software police have been targeting young cyber criminals with home visits followed up with letters to parents warning of the repercussions.

The Independent Cyber Security World of Warcraft

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