Virtual Economies and Financial Crime

Virtual Economies and Financial Crime

Money Laundering in Cyberspace

Clare Chambers-Jones

Clare Chambers-Jones examines the jurisprudential elements of cyber law in the context of virtual economic crime and explains how virtual economic crime can take place in virtual worlds. She looks at the multi-layered and interconnected issues association with the increasing trend of global and virtual banking via the ‘Second Life’ MMOG (Massively Multiplayer Online Game). Through this fascinating case study, the author illustrates how virtual worlds have created a second virtual economy which transgresses into the real, creating economic, political and social issues. Loopholes used by criminals to launder money through virtual worlds (given the lack of jurisdictional consensus on detection and prosecution) are also highlighted.

Chapter 6: Law and the Virtual World

Clare Chambers-Jones

Subjects: economics and finance, economic crime and corruption, money and banking, law - academic, corruption and economic crime, criminal law and justice, finance and banking law, information and media law, politics and public policy, terrorism and security


INTRODUCTION The British Fraud Advisory Panel (FAP) has said ‘there is nothing virtual about online crime, it is all too real. It is time the government took this seriously’.1 The FAP has further opined that ‘money laundering is the obvious risk. There will be a migration of fraudsters into these sites when they see all of the opportunities’.2 They describe the virtual world as ‘a parallel universe with almost no external rule of law, no enforced banking regulations or compliance, no policing and no government oversight’.3 Similarly, Field Fisher Waterhouse Solicitors iterated that ‘the law doesn’t stop just because this is a virtual world, but with its borderless nature, it may be challenging to determine whose laws apply. And there’s a culture of anonymity, so it is often difficult to known whom you are dealing with’.4 So the question is: are there laws relating to the virtual worlds? If so, what are these laws and if there are none, how can we create laws that still comply with the rule of law? It is true ‘that the law often lags behind technology and this is certainly the case in virtual worlds and social networking sites’.5 Throughout the book thus far we have discussed virtual worlds, their economic nature and progress through time, and their impact on the real world, all of which has culminated in the proposition that virtual worlds are a continuum of the real world and thus should have the necessary legal culpability of any other state within...

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