BuzzBites: The Mafia vs. Wizards; But Will It Match My Tinfoil Hat?

Organized crime may have found a new racket: stealing the virtual possessions of online gamers. Italian leather crafter sells wallets with metal-infused RF shielding.

September 8, 2006

1 Min Read
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The Mafia vs. Wizards

Organized crime may have found a new racket: stealing the virtual possessions of gamers who play popular multiplayer online games, such as World of Warcraft. So said Dave Weinstein, a Microsoft security development engineer during a game conference presentation this summer.

Players already buy and sell characters and virtual possessions on auction sites, often for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. One estimate puts the worldwide value for such items at an absurdly high $880 million. But even if the real value is only half or a quarter of that estimate, it's enough to attract identity thieves and other criminals looking to make a real buck off the virtual merchandise. --Andrew Conry-Murray, [email protected]

But Will It Match My Tinfoil Hat?

New technology can make people uneasy, even paranoid. But apparently it doesn't affect their sense of style. How else to explain a line of full-grain Italian leather wallets and passport holders that include metal-infused RF shielding to block sinister radio waves?Called DataSafe wallets, they protect RFID-embedded credit cards and passports from criminals using wireless devices to capture information stored in the chips. Of course, credit cards with RFID chips aren't widely available in the United States yet. Even if they were, a waiter is a thousand times more likely to rip off your credit card than a high-tech pickpocket.

That hasn't stopped the wallet maker from charging $40 to $120 apiece; looks like paranoia doesn't come cheap. --Andrew Conry-Murray, [email protected]

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