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Identity theft in a virtual world

Some say virtual worlds are just games. Others say the human behaviors inside virtual worlds mirror those of the real world.

That debate will go on forever. But, according to a post on Terra Nova, the virtual worlds blog, someone has taken the real world behavior argument up a notch.

The posting says there have been at least two major South Korean cases of identity theft in the NCSoft online game, "Lineage."

Apparently, hundreds of thousands of "Lineage" accounts were created using stolen IDs. South Korean police are investigating an NCSoft executive for not doing enough to prevent users from signing up with the pinched IDs.

Meanwhile, the police seem to suspect that the reason behind the mass "Lineage" sign-ups was a money laundering scheme designed to enable real money trades of in-game goods for hard currency.

The Terra Nova post includes quotes from the South Korean JoonAngDaily: "The seven gameroom operators reportedly hired about 100 part-time game players and made about 14.2 billion won ($15 million) in offline profits by selling cyber items obtained in the process of game-playing."