Valve restricts CS: GO key trading because it assists in money laundering

This week, Valve announced that from now on, the keys for Counter-Strike Global Offensive (CS: GO) lootboxes cannot be sold or exchanged through the Steam marketplace. Valve restricts the CS: GO key trade because it is used for money laundering.

In fact, the keys now can be used only to open cases in the inventory. This restriction applies only to those keys that were purchased in the official store after this rule change, keys that were previously in circulation can still be sold and exchanged.

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The problem is that for many years the keys for CS: GO were real currency, they were sold for real money, cryptocurrency or other game items. However, even if not to take into account the huge market for trading in-game items (which is far from always transparent and legal), there remain people who directly laundered money in this way.

“At present, almost all of the keys in circulation for CS: GO lootboxes are somehow connected with fraudulent operations, and large fraudulent networks have recently actively laundered their income in this way. For example, criminals use funds stolen from users to buy CS: GO keys, and then resell them to their partners. As a result, the money footprint is lost in the in-game economy of CS: GO, which greatly complicates the work of law enforcement agencies”, – consider Valve analysts.

The gaming community has responded to Valve’s decision with a sharp increase in key prices, however, this is most likely a temporary phenomenon. At specialized trading forums and Reddit (for example, GlobalOffensiveTrade and csgomarketforum), discussions are already underway about what keys will be able to substitute CS: GO as a currency, and the most obvious solutions are in-game items and keys TF2, Dota 2 and so on.

However, users fear that with the next step Valve will prohibit sale and exchange of these items, too (currently, many of them already have a seven-day ban on selling after purchase). How the market can react to this innovation, and what then will be used as a currency, only time will tell.

Recaling, money laundering through games and various forms of fraud associated with in-game currencies and items is not news at all. So, back in 2016, Trend Micro presented a report on cybercriminal activity in games through which huge cash flows pass. According to the company, most often, attackers used Minecraft, FIFA, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, Star Wars Online, GTA 5, Madden NFL, NBA, Diablo and so on for these purposes. Against this background, Valve also had several problems, for example, the company was accused of “promoting” the activity of illegal gambling sites, where the root of the problem was the skins for weapons from CS: GO.
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James Brown

Technology news writer and part-time security researcher. Author of how-to articles related to Windows computer issue solving.

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