According to the answers in this question, you are legally responsible when scamming someone for virtual goods in a game. However, in most of the cases it is very hard to actually get any information about a player, who he or she is, which just makes it useless.

However the game company do have all the information about the situation, the player, the transaction, chat conversation and so on. They have all the tools to solve this. But they refuse to.

My friend was just scammed in a scenario like this, and since he couldn't verify exactly who the player is, there is not much to go on, except contacting the ones in charge of the game company. Their Customer support replies like this in an e-mail converstaion:

Please understand that thieving or scamming isn't illegal and therefore I can neither punish the other player nor compensate you for your lost ***** Coins.

The company is based in Germany.
Also notice that the virtual coins are initially purchased with real money (80 euro) from the game website.

Something to note is that the only reason my friend wanted to buy this virtual item from a player in the first place is because:

  • The item is very rare and/or shouldn't even exist in that area. It only exists there because of bugs (that the game owner solved and are aware of, but they keep the items to exist there). This gives the seller an opportunity to scam.
  • There is a myth about this item in that area, and the game company strategically wants it to stay a myth, so they never actually say if is possible to retain or not (people have tried for 10 years and failed)
  • It is not possible to trade virtual coins to an item in this area in the game. It is only possible to send or give the item or virtual coins in advance.

The players did have a deal. So to wrap up:

Is the game company required to help you in a situation like this, where you have the evidence of being scammed for virtual currencies, and can you require them to take actions? (I.e give you the money back, or similar)

I am not claiming the company is responsible, however the other player who failed to complete his deal of the contract, is unreachable except with the help of the company. Also note that the game isn't about stealing or scamming, if you lose items due to death in the game then it's part of it. However in this case it's more of a one to one deal/contract (written contract), with real life money involved (except they were converted to virtual coins first), that question has been answered here though.

  • 2
    The problem you are going to have is that you conducted activities that the game developer does not support (by your own admission) - the game developer does not support the buying and selling of virtual items between players using in game currency. You did it anyway by sending the currency and expecting an item in exchange. I don't see how the game company is liable for that in any way - your beef is with the other player, not the game company.
    – user28517
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 23:22
  • It sounds like customer support was telling you that this is permitted by the rules of the game and thus not theft or a scam in real life. You can't sue me for assault if I shoot you in Fortnite because that's a legitimate game mechanic, even if it causes you real world damages. The question you linked to was about a different situation where a contract is entered into outside of the game. In you case, the trade was entirely within the game -- a virtual world that can have its own laws. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 14:58
  • @Kilise Sure, in game actions can have real world consequences. That doesn't make them real-world crimes. You can have a game where people can, in the game, "steal" from each other and the items they take can be bought and sold in the real world. That doesn't make the in game action theft if the game's rules permit it. (There are in fact games like this. There are games where you can buy and sell "ships" in the real world and in game "pirates" can steal them.) Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:11
  • @Kilise My point is that their customer support seems to disagree with you on this point. They seem to believe that the in game action was in accord with the game's rules. Thieving and scamming is illegal in the real world. So what do you think customer support meant by saying that thieving and scamming isn't illegal? The linked question is about a contract formed outside the game between people. Yours is about a "contract" formed in the game between characters. Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:31
  • @Kilise You can't have a contract that says if you sign this I may now kill you in real life. But you can play a game in which my character can kill your character, even if that results in your suffering a real world loss. There are games where people buy and sell ships for real money and in game players can steal ships from other players. Customer service's position seems to be that the in game conduct was in accord with the game's rules. What do you think their customer support meant? Commented Jul 8, 2020 at 15:57

4 Answers 4


It's not your job to investigate crimes and find the culprit

In general, companies have to (and do) cooperate with investigation of crimes - providing evidence, identifying people, taking corrective actions. But it is not their duty to investigate crimes.

That happens through the legal system; the police investigate crimes and courts issue warrants/subpoenas for various required actions and information. They can request the company to do all that you require, but the victim can not. It's not a given that the crime occured at all, the (self-asserted) victim can lie, and it's not the right of the alleged victim or the company to determine whether it is appropriate to violate the privacy of the alleged culprit (which may be an innocent unrelated person) and disclose their chat logs, identity, etc. The legal system is allowed to do that with proper safeguards but the general public (including the victim) is not. Simply claiming "I believe Bob scammed me" is not a free pass that entitles you to data about Bob.

It's also worth noting that you do not need to know the identity of the culprit to take action. Criminal investigations often (usually?) start without initially knowing who did it; and if you believe that the company itself is liable for your damages, then the appropriate legal recourse is to sue that company, you don't need the identity of the actual scammer to do that.



The game company has almost certainly excluded liability under the contract you entered. There may be some consumer protection that you have that they cannot exclude - I don’t know enough about German law to meaningfully comment.

Notwithstanding, if you were to initiate legal action against the, as yet, unknown wrongdoer, you could subpoena the relevant records from the game company with a court order. No matter what privacy or other protections the other person has, the game company must obey the order or be in contempt. Without such an order the game company is right that they can’t disclose details of other users.

As a practical matter, it will cost several hundred € to initiate legal action and several thousand to pursue it to the end. And you might lose. A better response is to treat the lost €80 as a relatively cheap life lesson - many people lose a lot more learning to recognise scams.


Please understand that thieving or scamming isn't illegal and therefore I can neither punish the other player nor compensate you for your lost ***** Coins.

It sounds like their customer service's position is that all of the conduct took place in the game and that the in game conduct of the other player wasn't the kind of rule violation that would justify returning the assets.

Games can have rules that differ from real life even if they have real life consequences. And games can have limited and specified consequences even to in game conduct that violates the rules.

American football does not allow a defender to interfere with a receiver's attempt to catch the ball. But the game also specifies the precise consequences should that occur. For example, if the referees miss it and the next play starts, that's the end of it. There are no additional consequences for the defender or the defending team.

All the conduct you are talking about took place within the game. And none of the conduct was conduct that is so inherently wrongful that the game's rules can't determine its penalty. It only affected in game objects and doesn't fall into any recognized exception.

There are games where people buy and sell ships for real money and, in the game, pirates can steal ships.

You can disagree with them, of course, but it seems like the game's customer service is taking the position that while the conduct might be the in game equivalent of a "foul", the game's rules don't permit return of the in game objects as a remedy. They are saying you want to do the equivalent of suing a football player for getting away with interfering with a receiver because it caused you to lose a bet and the game's rules don't allow interfering with a receiver.

I think you would agree that if the game's rules explicitly allowed this and it was a game mechanic, it would not be actionable. Surely those games that have piracy in them don't make the player character pirates real world pirates who could be charged with piracy. Then I think you have to concede that it also means that it's the game's policies that determine the appropriate penalty.

No out of game conduct is involved here. When you bought the in game currency, you agreed to let the game's mechanics control your possession of that currency.


Is the game company required to help you... and can you require them to take action?

First, read the Terms of Service for the game site; it is a legally binding contract. it will state that the owners of the game are not responsible for theft, scams, lost virtual coins, prizes, etc., and have no responsibility other than providing the game site. You and your friend play the game at your own risk, and the game and site owners are not responsible. You and your friend agreed to those terms when you signed up for the game. Contracts are civil law, and breaking contracts is (most of the time) a civil infraction.

Your three bullet points "Something to note..." mean nothing; those are part of the game that you have agreed to play.

German law may have consumer laws that might help you in the matter, but the fact remains that you entered into a contract to play the game by agreeing to the Terms of Service.

In referencing Charging someone with theft of virtual currency you failed to understand that any possible recourse you have against the game company is a civil matter, not criminal. That means you need to take action in civil court by filing a lawsuit yourself; it's not criminal, so no prosecutor can get involved. And if you signed a contract and agreed to the terms of the game, you have no case.

  • Thanks for your answer. Quoting: "you failed to understand that any possible recourse you have against the game company is a civil matter, not criminal." - Where did I mention that the matter is criminal and not civil?
    – Kilise
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 14:56

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