There are two video game franchises that have become so ubiquitous with today’s youth that you’d be remiss not to know about them.
The first, Fortnite, is a fairly well-known commodity at this point. It’s a battle royale shooter game that tones down the typical violence found in shooters with its cartoonish aesthetics.
The other? Well, if you’re not already familiar with the world of “Roblox,” you had better brush up on it because there’s greater-than-zero chance that your child might get swept up in a “criminal underworld.”
And no, that’s got nothing to do with the wildly popular virtual crime simulator “Grand Theft Auto.”
Video game and media site IGN put out an investigative piece exploring some of the seedier corners of Roblox, and its findings were damning, to say the least:
Titled “Inside Roblox’s Criminal Underworld, Where Kids Are Scamming Kids,” IGN’s piece exposes a shockingly unregulated environment where unsupervised minors and identity thieves can frolic about, arm-in-arm.
“In the depths of the Roblox criminal Discord network, a scammer from across the void shows me his best score. A screenshot materializes in the chat — it contains the uncensored username, password, and IP address of a Roblox account that was allegedly captured in his snare. There were 467,985 Robux in the target’s wallet at the time of the hack, equivalent to about $5,850,” IGN’s Luke Winkie wrote.
“I scripted something called a pin cracker. I run it, crack their pin, and it auto-unverifies their email,” the scammer told Winkie, when asked how they prevent their victims from reclaiming their Roblox identity. “They get logged off, and I change everything.”
The above hacker had more than just “Robux” (the in-game currency of Roblox, which can be purchased with real-life money) and login information — Winkie noted that the hacker had a full Visa credit card, as well.
“I spend the money on my friends and stuff. I buy something from Amazon for my room, stuff like that,” the hacker told Winkie. “My parents don’t know. They ask where I get the money for everything. I just make excuses, and they believe me.”
Perhaps the scariest part? When asked how old the hacker was, the digital deviant responded, “13, heh.”
For the unfamiliar, Roblox could best be described as the ultimate digital Lego set. Players can create their avatar, then engage in any number of pre-made games (most made by other fans/players) that can be built using the Roblox building tools. The games can range from simple (like a cooking game) to complex (like a fully fleshed out action-adventure game), but they all speak the same language of Robux, which is how players can purchase things in-game.
Want that cool new hoodie for your Roblox avatar? That’ll be $5 please.
Want to buy a special sword for your character? $10 please.
Making matters more costly, Roblox routinely catalogs “limited items.” So that $5 hoodie for your avatar? You had better buy it before Roblox “runs out of inventory.”
This in-game economy has spawned an almost stock market-like following of Roblox, with entire websites dedicated to tracking the fluctuating prices of these in-game items to help maximize profits.
Sadly, the aforementioned 13-year-old is hardly an outlier.
“But minutes after the conclusion of our interview, I spoke to another swindler active on the beaming [beaming is Roblox slang for “scam”] servers who claimed to be 13. Over text, he provided a holistic overview of his operation. It’s a basic phishing scheme, explains the hacker. He enters popular Roblox games and targets those who seem to be wearing expensive limited items; or he trawls through Discord channels in order to ‘trick mainly younger people, who don’t understand much,'” Winkie wrote.
“We can convince them to do whatever. Like click the link and enter their info,” the second hacker told Winkie. “You just have to be good with your words.”
But as any seasoned thief can tell you, the heist is often just half the crime. That’s why money laundering is so prevalent within white collar crime circles.
That’s how certain sites, that like to tout themselves as “Roblox casinos,” came to be. One such major site, which The Western Journal will not cite or link to, let’s players wager pricey Roblox items, before a simple algorithmic coin flip determines a “winner,” and then the winner keeps the items. One hacker told IGN that because of the way that site operates, wagering an item on the site effectively removes the ability of a victim to track down their stolen goods.
Of course, you can always just trade items on Roblox directly, without worrying about digital slot machine pulls, but that comes with its own set of issues.
“She agreed on a trade and was tricked into clicking on a link which enabled the scammer to access all of her inventory. He wiped her out of her valuable items,” Kristen Dagg, whose daughter was scammed on Roblox, told IGN. “I got a call, as I wasn’t home, and she couldn’t speak. My partner was home with her, and I could hear him furiously typing in the background, trying to help. I rushed through the door to find her sobbing, white as a ghost and having a full blown panic attack.”
Dagg’s daughter lost about $160 worth of items she had been saving up for, including a new “face” for her avatar, after engaging in a potential item trade on the Roblox market.
If this is what IGN was able to dig up, imagine what they weren’t able to.
And look, it would be one thing if Roblox were a passing fad that leeches have latched onto (like the GameStop stock nonsense) as the scam du jour.
But Roblox is anything but a fad. It is firmly entrenched as one of the premiere sources of children’s entertainment in the world. As IGN noted, 43 million players log onto Roblox everyday, which is like if the entire country of Ukraine or Argentina logged onto Roblox everyday.
So if you have a young child, there is a shockingly good chance that he or she has already downloaded Roblox onto your phone or tablet.
If they have, please make sure to keep an extra vigilant eye on them when they’re playing.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.