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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 November 2007, 14:37 GMT
'Virtual theft' leads to arrest
Habbo Hotel
Habbo Hotel users create a character and can buy furniture
A Dutch teenager has been arrested for allegedly stealing virtual furniture from "rooms" in Habbo Hotel, a 3D social networking website.

The 17-year-old is accused of stealing 4,000 euros (2,840) worth of virtual furniture, bought with real money.

Five 15-year-olds have also been questioned by police, who were contacted by the website's owners.

The six teenagers are suspected of moving the stolen furniture into their own Habbo rooms.

A spokesman for Sulake, the company that operates Habbo Hotel, said: "The accused lured victims into handing over their Habbo passwords by creating fake Habbo websites.

"In Habbo, as in many other virtual worlds, scamming for other people's personal information such as user names has been problematic for quite a while.

It is a theft because the furniture is paid for with real money
Sulake spokesman

"We have had much of this scamming going on in many countries but this is the first case where the police have taken legal action."

Habbo users can create their own characters, decorate their own rooms and play a number of games, paying with Habbo Credits, which they have to buy with real cash.

"It is a theft because the furniture is paid for with real money. But the only way to be a thief in Habbo is to get people's usernames and passwords and then log in and take the furniture.

"We got involved because of an increasing number of sites which are pretending to be Habbo. People might then try and log in and get their details stolen."

Six million people in more than 30 countries play Habbo Hotel each month.

Virtual theft is a growing issue in virtual worlds; in 2005 a Chinese gamer was stabbed to death in a row over a sword in a game.

Shanghai gamer Qiu Chengwei killed player Zhu Caoyuan when he discovered he had sold a "dragon sabre" he had been loaned.



SEE ALSO
'Game theft' led to fatal attack
31 Mar 05 |  Technology
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