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Dutch police have arrested an unnamed 17-year-old on suspicion of having swiped €4,000 worth of furniture from the virtual Habbo Hotel - the first such local arrest for "virtual burglary". According to Expatica, police say the suspect "allegedly hacked the accounts of other Habbo community members", then "took their furniture …

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virtual nick

Does this mean his avatar will go behind bars, after all if i did the same thing for real I wouldnt be able to use the excuse "god told me to do it".

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*banging head on desk*

Repeat after me, Dutch Police, "It's not _real_ it's _pretend_." -- burglary, seriously?

*hands himself in for numerous counts of virtual murder and GBH*

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How sad is that?

"..allows yoof (sic) to create "Habbos" (avatars), book into the hotel, and furnish their rooms with stuff bought for real cash.".

You are having a laugh, aren't you? You mean, REAL people pay REAL money to "furnish" VIRTUAL houses? That is, "houses" that consist of nothing more than a few bytes on a computer?

"Sad" doesn't come close to describing this.

Mind you, phrases like "you need to get out more" and "oh dear, have you got no friends?", or "you'll go blind if you do that too much" spring to mind.

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Dead Vulture

WHAT ! ! ! !

u gotta be taking the pi$$ . . . how can u steal virtual furniture... when is is not a physical asset and the 'owners' have copies of the item in question.

lol anyways, if his room was in the virtual hotel, surely its merely relocating furniture instead ??

the mind boggles !

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Beware dutch coders!

HACKING IS NOW A CRIME!

Now, unlawful entry into a computer system is one thing, but hacking can mean coding, writing the kind of journalism the reg is famed for or chopping up a log with a large axe.

Someone should educate them before they continue to make these kinds of retarded errors.

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@Cameron Colley

Even though it is stupendously sad to do so, these people have in fact bought the items with REAL money. Burglary is the wrong charge, but it is theft.

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Real Money for virtual property?

Okay Rich, can I nick all your software that you've paid for (presuming you've paid for any...)

I mean, it's just a few bytes on a computer...

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How much...

How much are they bloody flogging this virtual furniture for anyway?! 4000 euro! Either there must be some rich sad people around or he "nicked" a hell of a lot of cupboards.

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hrm...

I trust this means that the Dutch police have managed to solve all the other crimes in Holland?

I hope someone high up in their police force gets wind of this and heads roll. It's like when random celebs get curfews or house arrest or whatever it's called and then you see about 12 officers on the front page of the Sun going 'round to check that said celeb perp is honouring their agreement - rather than actually going and fighting crimes committed by dangerous people...

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@Peter Darby

I think you've got the wrong end of the stick. Rich beat me to those exact same thoughts albeit a tad watered down. That some dick for brains have paid real money just to have a jpg or whatever of a piece of furniture on a website is beyond comprehension.

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Real Money for virtual property?

Peter, you can either a) take a copy of my software in which case I still have a copy and what you would be guilty of is unauthorized access and copyright infringement

b) You can delete my software in which case you'd be guilty of authorized access, unauthorized modification and liabel for damages or

c) You can copy then delete my software in which case you'd be guilty of all of the above.

In this case I imagine it was more he made unathorized modification to the game objects to label himself as the owner in which case the original 'owners' can get a copy of their stuff back (assuming that they can prove they brought it, wonder if they got virtual receipts?) he will be liable for damages here but whatever way you look at it it is just modification of computer files and not burglary. Might be able to class it as fraud or obtaining goods through deception at a push though.

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Stop

Coma

I laughed myself into a coma after writing this.

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Re: By Peter Darby...

"Okay Rich, can I nick all your software that you've paid for (presuming you've paid for any...) I mean, it's just a few bytes on a computer..."

Sorry? How can you possibly compare the desperately and utterly sad and pitiful act of spending hard-earned cash to.... well.... to do what exactly? with the utterly sad and pitiful act of using genuinely useful software to do something genuinely useful like posting up on the Reg or emailing my mates about the weekend or reading Dilbert? They do not compare in in way shape or form!!

...or are you a secret virtual furniture-buying sad case that is actually a little bit bitter at being rumbled and poked fun at?

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Key point here...

Habbo hotel is aimed at teenagers. The fact that (a) habbo credit can be purchased "simply" by ringing a premium-rate phone number and (b) their target market generally has easy access to a telephone line for which they don't have to pay means that, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how much these things cost. Mum and Dad's money is essentially "virtual" anyway, and it can be weeks before the phone bill hits the mat and the dungheap hits the windfarm...

I speak with some experience; our children went through a phase of near-addiction to this hideous phenomenon. Thing is, Habbo are sneaky fuckers, and you can forget about gettting your money back if your own kids have been roped into stealing it from you (which is what this amounts to) and the "community" is rife with would-be scammers and haxx0r5 who'll rip off any noob who's stupid enough to fall for their tricks. This little dutch boy seems to be the one that got caught, frankly.

On the one hand, it's probably helped our kids to become a little more savvy as a result. On the other hand, the scammers just keep getting more sophisticated. In terms of learning a valuable lesson... Well, expensive isn't the same as valuable, is it? Especially when someone else is footing the bill... I'm delighted to report that the "habbo" phase seems to have dwindled away. The bad news is that my digital camera is now choc-full of pictures of our pubescent daughters making "winsome" and pointing at their own mouths in a way that would make a pederast pitch. Hail bebo!

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makes no sense?

surely the stolen furniture would just have been deleted from the guys account and put back where it belongs... I mean, they do take backups, right? What a waste of police time.

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Happy

@Peter Darby

Of course you can steal his software if you want. He paid for the license to use it, not the software itself.

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Re: By Peter Darby (part #2)...

...and another thing!

You'll note that I didn't actually dismiss the "crime" in any way. I didn't say that the "theft" was not important. I was simply commenting on the oh-so-sad individuals that partook in this virtual furniture buy-fest!

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Coat

They'll have to...

...serve him with a Hasbbo.

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Why is it...

...that I always read Habbo Hotel as Hobo Hotel?

Also, the guy should have taken a virtual dump in the bath after stealing the furniture.

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Alert

Hmmm

Think I best check my account, just incase....

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I'm with Cameron

If this is a real report then I am worried as I have numerous counts of virtual murder, GBH and if you take my star wars "empire at war" use of the death star. then I can add genocide to the list.

And losing make believe stuff in a game happens all the time. Just ask EA at how bad they code their games that people "Buy" then after server upgrades in their many bug fix release, people have "lost." Can we expect them to press charges for that?

...this world has gone crazy.

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Jobs Horns

Reality Check... doh!

I was about to say that the police need a reality check, before I changed my mind. They need a virtual rality check... if it is virual theft, should the police not be virtually arresting?

I agree with a lost of the postings prior, these people need to get out more. If they don't go blind they will at least get short-sighted from all that computer screen time.

BTW has anybody though of launching a virtual reality on computers inside second life? You could call it "third life", "half life", or maybe, "for god's sake GET A LIFE". No wonder people are losing their social skills...

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@Alex Hawdon

What other crimes? This is Holland we're talking about.

Holland probably has enough police manpower free from not wasting time on drugs and sex that they could arrest 1000 teenage hackers and still have enough left over to chase bicycle thieves.

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Alert

Whats next ...

... virtual murder when you delete a habbo?

... virtual euthanisia when you delete your own account?

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Wetting myself with disbelief

I guess it would come under the heading of data theft rather than software theft, which is fairly serious if you ignore what actually has been stolen. but you really have to concentrate very hard to ignore it. very hard indeed.

I would also suppose that the hacking attempt was really just guessing usernames and passwords;

username britneyfan

password Ilovejustintimberlake

or whatever it is these teenagers happen to think is cool now-a-days.

and honestly, the admins. of this thing must be able to click just a few buttons on the game too correct the problem without getting the police involved.

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Stop

Oh my god...

So let me get this right, people are willing to hand over cash, (well sometimes parents unknowingly have to hand it over I gather), to buy virtual furniture in a virtual hotel room??

What do they do with it?

Mayhap i am too old for all of this but I fail to see how even children could get excited by this?

Oh and yes i agree that the police should be focusing more of their time on real crime that happens in real life...

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Tom
Happy

I dont think most of you commentors visited the Habbo website?

It's not what I expected. It's definitely aimed at kids and I can understand how kids could like it, and lets face it most of us spent our weekly allowance on baseball cards, garbage pail kids, pogs, hey---remember MUSCLE MEN, those little rubber monsters figures?? Basically pointless fun stuff. This Habbo site allows you to buy game-cards at retail places like Target and CVS pharmacies and then use them to do cheesey kid stuff to your virtual toy.

Anyway... Back to the article... It's ultimately a case of compromising a commercial computer system illegally. Sure its stealing virtual toys and not exactly a murderous crime---I'd say its akin to shoplifting as a kid, and just as I got caught stealing as a kid he rightfully deserves a slap on the wrist....Before he starts thinking its also ok to steal credit card info.

Am i right?

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moderators??

i've said this before in other similar articles,

dont these games have admins / moderators?

how about copy & pasting the lost "property" back and banning the offender.

i think the police have enough to do without busying themselves on silly cases like these

and imagine having "virtual theft" being added to your official police record - now thats just silly isn't it??

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Pirate

MMORPG

Six year olds are doing this massively multiplayer online role-playing game stuff in the UK/USA.

Using cartoon penguin avatars completing simple games and tasks (and paying a small monthly fee to access the furniture) the online community goes and hangs-out in whichever penguine avatar has built up the most bejewelled collection of virtual bling or TV sets. It is then possible, I think, to have a limited chat session with your MMORPG penguin buddies. All sorts of UK law enforcement issues come to mind, I hope the UK SOCA enjoy pretending to be a 6yr old penguin to catch the presumably evil ones!

oh , I almost forgot the URI <clubpenguin.com>

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Paris Hilton

Rich, et al

Just poking away at this idea that "bit & bytes = inherently worthless". Doesn't matter how they're stored, but implying it's not a crime because the code is somehow "frivolous" compared to other code is a bit shaky.

As goes virtual furniture... as my good friend said of Paris Hilton, at least I've never paid for it...

Personally, I'm with the folks who are saying Habbo should have sorted this out (and with decent audit trails, it would be a portion of urine). Getting the law involved leads to a rocky road, at the end of which is being taxed on virtual income...

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Flame

Virtual security...

If you left your house unlocked, you'd be considered "to blame" if someone walked in and stole your stuff.

If you secured your house with a padlock that cost 50P from the market, and almost counts as a 1 lever lock, despite being made out of tin, and someone snapped it off and stole your stuff, you'd be considered to have "not taken due care".

If your 7 lever 'break safe' lock was left intact in the steel framed door, when someone used a grinder to cut the bricks out around the door, you'd be considered a really unlucky victim of a very determined criminal, and your contents insurance should cover the loss, if your alarm was set.

If your username is "r2d2" and your password is "starwars", and someone found out your password and changed the ownership field on some rows in a database, you'd be considered a victim of those devious evil hackers, not the idiot that you are.

p.s. Can you get Virtual Contents Insurance yet?

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Re: Rich, et al....

"....implying it's not a crime because the code is somehow "frivolous"...."

Can I please point out (AGAIN!) that I NEVER suggested that! Ever! Not even once.

Anyway, I'm far too busy having virtual sex with this virtual penguin I've just met down at virtual Bobby's Bar.

The barman's a virtual idiot and it's virtually impossible to get a bloody drink here but oooo.... the things you can do with a virtual flipper!!

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Coat

hmm

be interesting to see if this stands up in court!

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Alert

of course he's goin' down!

Its a win-win-win situation - politicians get an easy "cybercrime is real - you had better be afraid" headline, the police get a an easy conviction for their stats and the virtual furniture makers and all other "intellectual property" owners get a public confirmation that the full force of the law will be used against those who don't support their rather dubious business model.

Who the losers are is left as an exercise to the reader.

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Coat

Title

I wouldn't even check in to a virtual hotel unless it was the Paris Hilton.

I know, I'm gone already.

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Anonymous Coward

Market rules

Property is worth whatever people are willing to pay for it. Ask anyone in an ordianry job who's tried to buy a house in the London commuter belt. Or anyone in a banking job whose job is now insecure because their management have been caught out by the totaly unpredictabble subprime mortgage disaster.

Of course, if the folks who pick up the costs aren't the same people as the ones who are making the purchases (the parents vs the kids, the bank employees/customers vs the bank HQ high-ups), things may not work too well.

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Anonymous Coward

Virtual products are nothing new

Didn't many of us spend a significant proportion of our pocket money on coin-op games such as Pac Man and Space Invaders in our own yoof?

Back in the 80s Rich's comment could have been...

You are having a laugh, aren't you? You mean, REAL people pay REAL money to "run around" VIRTUAL mazes ? That is, "mazes" that consist of nothing more than a few bytes on a computer?

Today we have hackers. 30 years ago we had dodgy mechanics that used to take your coins and not give you credits.

Davis S does a good job of explaining what Habbo Hotel is and who uses it, but rather than accuse Sulake (the company behind Habbo) of being "sneaky fuckers" he should spend time watching over his kids and educating them about online and use of mobile phones.

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No Need to Hack

I found that my son (Bless him) had spent £90.00 on a Premium rate phone line to top up his Habbo account. I did have a little chat with him about the rights and wrongs of using the telephone for such frivolous matters (and then promptly barred access to Habbo on the firewall and locked the telephone handset away when not in the house!).

He then had the little problem of having all his stuff stolen. You see this other Habbo user chatting with him asked him if he would like a load of free furniture and other things. Understandably my son jumped at the chance, all he had to do was give his "Friend" his username and password, his "Friend" would log-in to my sons account and add all these things for him.............

Now, one good thing did come of the fleecing, the "Friend" stole all the stuff from my Son but after doing so he also deleted my Son's'* (*delete as applicable) account. :-)

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@Peter Redding

"Also, the guy should have taken a virtual dump in the bath after stealing the furniture."

funniest thing i've heard all day! :-D

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Pirate

Scary

Whilst this is stupidly hilarious, the implications are out of this world. With arrests in the real world for virtual crimes (anyone see Ch5's undercover reporter in Second Life after the paedophile cartels?) becoming more apparent, clearly people are failing to distinguish reality from virtuality. Furthermore this becons the question; are our leaders assigning value to things that don't actually exist?

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Gates Horns

HOW?????

has he managed to fit all the furniture in his room or house or whatever????

don't tell me that he's hired a virtual house for his stolen virtual furniture!!!!!!

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Coat

Toy story

This is basically about kid's toys, isn't it? Like little Sally pinching stuff from little Britney's dolls house? If the police were called every time that happened ...

Actually, in 1959 Colin Smith nicked my Dinky. I'm off to call the plod's cold case department.

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Stop

where's the anti-US angle?

surely there's some sort of anti-American, anti-DHS, or anti-Bush angle here...or are you saying stupid totalitarianism exists elsewhere in the world? *gasp* shocking!

I can understand getting the kid on a "hacking" charge-maybe a few months community service, or on the hard side, 30 days in The Cooler. But for these dweebs to drop in some game-designated value and hit the punk as if it were a real world monetary amount-ridiculous. That'd be practically grand-theft time.

Lawmakers world wide need to pull their heads out. Content providers need a cranial enema. Stealing a real person's ID:BAD. Copying a song or moving a "virtual" item: NOT BAD. because the virtual item can be restored the same as if there was a backup issue or accidental deletion.

Though this does set a "service level" precedent. If someone can go to jail based on an arbitrary value of virtual goods, then the game provider must also be held accountable-meaning, if they 'accidentally' delete some accounts (eBay anyone?) then the company or the administrator in charge is then responsible for the amount of value of all accounts. With this logic, deleting a few 'virtual rooms" would be the legal equivalent of taking a person's car and dropping it into the grinder. Without permission. Maybe then eBay, Google, etc. would be less enthusiastic about their data domination plans if there was also a potential downside.

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Re: How sad is that?

"You mean, REAL people pay REAL money to "furnish" VIRTUAL houses?"

hm... ever heard of that thing called Second Life? Sounds a lot like that to me ...

The thing would sound stupid, but it is basically a crime as REAL money is involved. Ask the dudes who were victims of "bank" scams in Second Life during the last 6 months. Of course, in SL you can actually do business in there and earn "toy money" that can be turned back into "real money" though.

This Habbo thingy reminds me of that one time (ca. 1987) when I called the 1-900 premium "Woody Woodpecker" line to get a "free" dinosaur toy or something like that. I got bored with after 5 minutes of constant recordings, and hung up. Then I told my dad and ... OW! Good thing, my dad showed me the bill next month and explained everything about 900 numbers. I have never dialed another 900 number since then.

900 numbers are a way of suckering kids to call in and siphon bills out of unsuspecting parents. I hate them.

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Anonymous Coward

My son didn't take too kindly to his "furni" being taken

About 6 months-year ago my son had ploughed most of his pocket money into furniture in Habbo for months and months.

For those that don't know, this is done via calling premium rate phone numbers.

His room was cleared out and although we reported it to the admin, they couldn't or wouldn't replace it.

He wasn't too pleased. This turned him off Habbo and now he is onto some other online sims type thing that doesn't seem to require money, so that's an improvement.

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Flame

There is only one thing to say

THE

POOL

HAS

BEEN

CLOSED!

DUE TO AIDS!

As an aside he probably got a list off of rapid shit.

Also it's basically a place 10 year olds go to cyber and stand there going "GAI LUKIN 4 GF!" and other such shit, have you ever been to ragnarock or the free servers in runescape or gaia or any of that crap? They're full of teens and preteens offering sexual favours and asking people to fucking marry them.

They all have aids and must be cleansed! Under 18s should just be banned from the internet.

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Alien

Things that don't exist

>> Furthermore this becons the question; are our leaders assigning value to things that don't actually exist?

"begs" the question.

How many lives^H^H^H^H^Htrillions of dollars would you assign to non-existent WMDs? Or bringing "Democracy" to far-away lands? Then there are people who are writing whole books concerning Free Will.

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Juveniles taught online to steal from parents

Yobbos in Habbos.

It all makes sense, in a macabre sort of way.

However, getting the police involved in this smacks of the Habbo people being not merely supremely lazy, but more than a bit stupid. Waht they are doing is illegal in the USA, and certainly ought to be in Europe. After all, a child under legal age can NOT enter into a valid contract without parental consent - and that's exactly what's happening when the child dials a premium-rate number to buy virtual furniture.

Had I been the admin in charge when this was discovered, I would have (1) copied the furniture back to the "rightful" owners, and (2) re-skinned the stolen furniture in the perp's "room" in bright purple, with bright green lettering spelling out "Stolen property" in whatever the local language is. Or possibly several languages.

Then I'd have locked the account so that no "property" could be transfered into nor out of the "room."

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Anonymous Coward

Jurisdiction issues?

I would think this would need to be handled by virtual police, not real ones.

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