Japanese police have arrested two people accused of stealing online IDs and passwords belonging to users of online role-playing game Lineage II and using their virtual characters to sell in-game merchandise via a real-money trading Web site.
The two suspects took on the roles of nine virtual characters after luring game players to download virus-infected malware to their PCs.
After logging in using the stolen user IDs and passwords, the pair sold swords and shields belonging to the real users, cashing in as much as Y1 million via a real-money trading site.
Lineage II operator NC Japan is claiming losses of about Y100 million due to the application of emergency countermeasures to shore up security in the game.
According to local media reports, police are currently investigating the case as a violation of the illegal access law, which carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison.
However, because the operator of the online game suffered significant financial loss, the police may try to establish a case on allegations of obstructing business by fraudulent means, says Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, a charge that can be punished by imprisonment of up to three years or fines of up to Y500,000.