Teen Arrested for Stealing Friend’s Virtual Money in RuneScape
Theft is usually pretty cut-and-dry, but a teen in Wales definitely blurred the line when he stole and gave away a friend’s stockpile of virtual money in the online role-playing game RuneScape. Does this qualify as a real crime?
According to police, 19-year-old Keiron Belmont logged into the medieval fantasy online game using the credentials of friend and fellow gamer Helen Jenkins. Then, he distributed a cache of virtual money that she’d been saving for six years. Ouch. If that doesn’t make her rage quit, nothing will.
Apparently, the two friends had an argument, and since Belmont was staying at Jenkins’ house at the time, he was able to easily access her username and password.
The money, of course, has no value in the real world, but can used used to purchase items such as armor and weapons in the game. Still, Belmont was charged under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, given an eight-month conditional discharge and fined almost $25, which probably seems like a slap on the wrist to hardcore gamers.
Does this punishment seem fair? Or should Belmont have received a stiffer sentence for his virtual crime?