A war has erupted between corporations and bankers. The Imperium member Space Monkeys Alliance (SMA) has been exchanging financial and strategic attacks with the bankers of the gambling conglomerate iwantisk.com (IWANTISK). Both sides are following through on threats that have engulfed them in an ugly war. To get to the bottom of this unusual conflict, we approached SMA leaders, and the CEO and bankers of IWANTISK, to bring us up to speed.
What looked like a simple story turned into a complicated web of hidden relationships, betrayal, and generally bad diplomacy.
Space Monkeys’ Story
According to those articles, the conflict started when a banker from IWANTISK was kicked from an SMA corp. During his departure, the banker contracted his possessions to a friend who betrayed him by handing the contract over to SMA's Directorate. This was considered payback for the banker's theivery.
What followed was a power-play between the CEO of IWANTISK (Eep) and the SMA Directorate.
As SMA sees it, IWANTISK demanded the banker be reimbursed by SMA or face mercenaries, but to SMA's Directorate it was a corporate matter. They laughed off the threat, pointing out null-sec alliances do not fear mercenaries. In retaliation, Chief of Staff, ExWinet tried to scam IWANTISK by faking a willingness to drop SMA sov, but the deal fell through.
ExWinet reported that SMA had infiltrated IWANTISK and siphoned huge amounts of ISK, “I won’t go into the specifics but I can say this: there is a lot more than just the [trivial amount] that [IWANTISK] are claiming,” said ExWinet. He continued:
To be honest, all the hard work from this point onward goes to our intelligence division, C.L.I.T., and the person we had infiltrate... He had some coding skills and was given access to help code parts of the site, discovering major flaws in the backend of their code in the process. This code was used to do a few things, one of which was to have the coder move ISK to our main accounts and a variety of alts. We were not sure if we would be caught here, so we decided to play a different way which I won’t go into too much, but enabled us to win more often.
The I WANT ISK characters, most of which are still active, were given a better chance at winning in raffles and jackpots. This code was already written into the I WANT ISK backend, and any high level banker had access to it. All this took was quiet hours when no major banker was online to switch the winning accounts to us...They have finally moved their server hosting off of what we had access to, but again I will say this – our C.L.I.T. agent has yet to be found.
Our agent has observed a lot while he was helping to code, including the existence of buttons in the backend which enabled certain people to continue to win jackpots or win far more often (the same code I mentioned earlier). He also discovered something far more serious, in my opinion. We were dismayed to find that the character I Want ISK/EEP EEP or GONZ as he has been called was heavily involved in RMT…
[Clients] would jump on Skype or Teamspeak (no physical in-game logs) and ask to buy a battery, code for one billion ISK. A battery would cost a player one US Dollar, and anything bought in the thousands was given a discount. The money transfers were handled via paypal.
SMA has contacted CCP with our evidence and asked them to look into I Want ISK, both the character and the corp, on grounds of potential RMT.
Later, as a follow-up, a heavily edited “RMT expose,” entitled: I Want ISK Comms --- EVIL AFOOT. The audio was a collection of choice moments captured on a public comms channel. SMA says it was edited for humanitarian reasons and to remove irrelevant discussion. The four to five hour session saw poeple come and go, many of whom were not bankers.
Note: Since I was there for a short time in the beginning, I can attest to a few things; there was no expectation of privacy among the bankers, context for the comments was left out, as was any contradictory evidance to SMA's version of events. The whole recording should speak for itself, this edited version speaks for SMA.
CCP Bans Bankers: The End??
The charges SMA were making in the war with IWANTISK had taken a serious turn. If true, it is a grim picture of what IWANTISK is up to - real money trading (RMT).
CCP recently banned an unprecedented number of accounts belonging to bankers for “ISK selling,” pending investigation. Bans are standard operating procedure; ban first to freeze the assets in place, audit, then release bans on the not-guilty parties. The impression is the bans were handed down as a result information turned over to CCP from SMA, but that is still unclear. CCP does not comment on bans beyond what is emailed to the target accounts. It is suspected, these accounts were banned for "ISK trading." (RMT), but the bankers are forbidden to discuss private communications with CCP.
The story could end here with this summary: A null-sec alliance infiltrates IWANTISK using a C.L.I.T. (classy, right?) secret operative, and rips off billions from hated gamblers, before bringing the whole operation down permanently. They deserve it - they were RMTing. SMA won the war.
But if that were the end of the story, it wouldn’t account for some unanswered questions. Who was the infiltrator? A rare sighting of the illuminati (as I described in EVE Vegas)? If so, what took them so long? Stealing hundreds of billions of ISK from a gambling site would be an easy target.
When news of the IWANTISK war against SMA became an RMT story, I volunteered to cover it, since I had reported on RMT in 2010, when rmfHorus claimed to make enough money to buy a house in Italy. I also investigated the downfall of Atlas being caused by RMTing capital builders, Russian wormhole RMTing, and other. That angle on the story was important, but the idea that an alliance and bank were going to war was very intriguing, not to mention the possibility of an illuminati sighting.
The Investigation: Reporter’s Notebook
I started by reading the SMA articles, the chat logs, and reddit comments. I then talked to SMA’s leader, ExRiver, to see if there were any updates. Then it was over to IWANTISKs public TeamSpeak (TS) to see if I could meet with the CEO of the gambling site, the one accused of RMT. I heard he was rarely there, but at least I could find some clues.
I arrived on January 8, as CCP bans were being handed down. The TS channel was in a daze, some bankers lost all their accounts to bans. With no alts to play on, they hung around comparing notes, trying to make sense of it all. Some bankers dated back to 2003, to them this was a disaster.
As a reporter from the Imperium's news site, I expected to get a lot of resistance or frozen out, but it had to be done. I identified myself, who I was working for, and why I was there. Did they know why they were banned, was it RMT? They answered everything I asked promptly, and openly discussed their business in front of me. One banker, Carlton Banks, finally asked me to prove my identity by writing him ingame. It occurred to me these bankers were here to make money and hang out socially while they played EVE. They had little interest in politics.
New information came to light quickly. SMA and IWANTISK were not strangers to one another. SMA Director, Widget Zombie, and her husband, Bnry Zombie, were long-standing friends with the IWANTISK CEO, Eep. Bnry set up the IWANTISK server for Eep, and Widget was given shares of the business (in ISK) for her early banking help.
Bnry was IWANTISKs only other server admin, besides the owner, Eep. He had access in case Eep was not available for an extended amount of time. He was very trusted. The husband and wife team were close with Eep, and even met up over the holidays last year. They were all members of the same corporation at one time, Internet Terrorists (Noobz), a large SMA member corp. In total, seven bankers came from there, two of which were “big bankers.” That same corp is where the war began.
The expulsion of Paul Woods
Noobz corp was also the home of industrialist and gambler Paul Woods. He’d built super capitals for his superiors, and was helping run the corps industry wing. Paul also recruited clients from IWANTISK for the corp, notably DustinHF, a 650 billion ISK winner at the gambling site. Recruiting rich players had its uses, and was something Noobz corp often did.
After a leadership shakeup, Paul thought he deserved a higher position. Instead he was passed over, and later lost the little influence he had left. The new CEO accused Paul of stealing, and SMA investigated Paul. After appeals, reversals, and ambiguity about what to do with Paul, ExWinet kicked him and DustinHF. Paul was under the impression the problems were getting worked out, so he was surprised by the move.
The lack of warning left Paul stranded. To get around this, he contracted his assets to a friend from another SMA corp, but he was betrayed, and SMA kept all his assets totalling 130 to 150 billion ISK. They also kept DustinHF’s baking Nyx, not wanting to see it fall into the enemy's hands once built. SMA would use the funds to reimburse the 250 billion ISK allegedly stolen from the corp. Paul chalked up his losses to business as usual. “That’s just EVE, I trusted someone and I lost.” Neither of them appealed to anyone for help, but Paul was a banker so the label of thief raised flags inside of IWANTISK, where trust is a major issue.
Eep sent Paul’s friend and former Noobz corpmate, Tolandruth Rahl (Tol), to investigate. Tol was a director for Noobz, and used his access to see Paul’s and everyone else's API. He could not see the new CEO’s API, however. He and Eep built a spreadsheet that showed only a 300 million ISK discrepancy, well below the 250 billion SMA claimed.
This angered IWANTISK’s CEO. It was not the first time the SMA had kicked an IWANTISK banker and kept their ISK. Months ago, Admiral Taylor was kicked and had 80 billion ISK taken from him. Although Eep was friendly with Widget and others in SMA, they kept recruiting and robbing his people, according to Eep. This was bad for business.
On December 14, Eep spent a few hours poring over statistics before heading to SMA’s diplomatic channel and requesting a conference on the issue of Paul Woods and DustinHF. ExWinet was in the channel and elected to speak for SMA.
Here is an abbreviated version of the private log. It starts with Eep offering the results of his tracing of Paul Woods ISK, but ExWinet says it is a corp matter, citing 250 billion stolen.
[Eep] Now, we had a person go into the SMA back end and acquire all APIs, including Paul Woods' alt APIs...there is only about a 300m inconsistency in Paul Woods' operations. Including stockpiled (moon) goo, unofficial withdrawals, and purchases.
[ExWinet] As far as paul woods and dustin are concerned it's a corp matter. Noobz no longer wanted them in noobz after they did some analytical thing and their evidence is 250ish bil is missing from corp assets.
[Eep] From our research, also looking into his banker API, he did not acquire random amounts of ISK from random locations. his 1.5 years of work reflect that he earned all of his ISK. Simply because he wanted to leave, they took his assets by saying "give them to me, I will ship them to jita." Paul Woods has lost his banking ISK and it affects me. As I have to either hire and train another banker or support the ISK he lost.
[ExWinet] SMA has not scammed any1. SMA is the alliance. Leadership of SMA does not involve itself in corp matters unless a ceo requests it.
Eep makes his request, ExWinet gives no ground.
[Eep] I would like SMA to return 130b to Paul Woods and 30b to DustinHF. I would like SMA to correct what happened under its leadership.
[ExWinet] And noobz would like 250 bil returned to them
[Eep] I am sure they would, however, they need better proof of that missing amount. I mean 100% proof.
ExWinet lets out a personal comments, and holds firm on Paul Woods being a corp matter. Eep, seeing he’s not getting anywhere, warns ExWinet.
[ExWinet] It kills me because i actually wanted to bank for you however. SMA leadership has no control over what its members do with neutral or reds items.if the person was blue it's entirely a dif story
[Eep] Anyway, the demands are in. I would rather not make it a threat but I assure you that I have a lot of influence in SMA.
[ExWinet] now see you gone and done it. there is no other way to take that then a threat :p and i really dont respond to threats.
Eep warns he will confiscate SMA director’s shares, and incentivise kills on SMA. ExWinet calls his bluff and vouches for his authority to speak for SMA.
[Eep] When Widget Zombie and Doctor Chin came into IWI they did great work for me. so I gave them shares in IWI. these shares came with an option to buyback.These shares will be bought back from these members and the funds generated will be used to constantly hire mercenaries to attack anyone related to SMA.
[ExWinet] feel free to send anyone you wish
[Eep] It won't just be anyone ;) I will make it an event on IWI. giveaways for kills on SMA. I suggest you gather better diplomatics than you. You are not handling this well and don't understand how bad it can get. can you please bring other leadership in here? I would rather deal with someone that knows that SMA has control [over Noobz decision to kick].
[ExWinet] No need I’m a SMA director and have full authority to speak on behalf of SMA in all ways. No the answer will be the same. your threats are laughable at best
Eep tells ExWinet this is not the first time his bankers have been taken by SMA corps. They close negotiations.
[Eep] Well, if I hear it from them it becomes more official now that SMA has scammed 3 of my friends. I suggest this is looked into.
[ExWinet] The evidence they have gathered suggests paul stole 250 billion isk from them over time. give or take. you have made your argument i have made mine
[Eep] So the answer is no?
ExWinet consulted with the rest of SMA leadership, and the answer came back in the form of an insult. Eep retaliated by holding Widget’s dividend payment from IWANTISK shares. No SMA accounts were touched beyond this.
Tricks and Traps
ExWinet approached Eep with an offer to pull the plug on SMA sovereignty. It was a ruse that Eep entertained for a while, putting out feeler ISK to the tune of 100 billion ISK. ExWinet had planned to release DustinHF’s Nyx as a sign that they had a deal, in order to coax billions more out of Eep. The plan stalled when Eep decided to take a vow of silence and disappeared.
I had insurance. If he scammed me for any amount, I would simply take it from the share value that Widget Zombie had.I fed ExWinet some false intel, which eventually made it to me (the trap), meaning that he was still on SMA's side. The deal fell through. - Eep
Eep held Widget Zombie’s (SMA director) usual monthly share dividend. Widget, who had stayed out of it, then became more involved. Her husband, Bnry Zombie was the only person besides Eep that had access to the server. He was the administrator that set up the server, although he was not a coder. Only he can be SMA’s secret C.L.I.T. agent, or have been the one to give access to another. (More on this in the “RMT Theories” section, below)
Inside IWANTISK: The Bankers
The player Eep coded IWANTISK from scratch. He also dreamed up the ISK-flow structure of the gambling site. The ingenious tiered banker based system provides plausible deniability that protects the corporation and limits the damage a thief can do to the corp. The bankers are the canaries in the coal mines.
IWANTISK operates by using players as bankers that act like clerks. They can speed up deposits made to the site, also known as quick depos, and they also pay out the withdrawals from the site. They take turns at being clerk, managing all of the deposits and withdrawals during their turn, then it is passed to the next banker in line.
Bankers pay withdrawals from their own wallet, and they are reimbursed by “big bankers” who are reimbursed by the IWANTISK CEO. All transactions are run through the API to the outside software that tracks it. Only once the transaction to the client has been verified by the API does the banker gets paid.
For all this to work, the bankers have to trust the legitimacy of IWANTISK if they are to loan their money to operate the site. The bankers are constantly at risk of losing trillions of their ISK if the site gets frozen by CCP, so the bankers police themselves, and no one is hired that is not trusted by the CEO.
The CEO makes ISK by having other players risk their own money. The site makes some ad revenue, and so in one sense he can use the trillions made to drive people to the site through events and sponsorships of other EVE sites, including streamers. This is, however, not against the EULA.
The bankers can all see the transactions of the all the corp wallets, though only Eep can withdraw from it to pay the big bankers and others as needed, for example sponsored events and streaming sponsorship.
Just after downtime on December 26, a banker named ‘The 0ne Percent’, noticed a financial anomaly: some rather large withdrawals from Bnry Zombie (nearly 100 billion) and Widget Zombie (119 billion), as well as ExWinet (154 billion), possibly more. He reported it to 1ronbank, a senior big banker, who agreed it needed looking at. Then it was taken to Eep, who investigated immediately.
Eep said that he: “[Changed] all of the passwords on the IwantISK.com server only to find that after I changed them, some of these accounts in their alliance leadership were receiving ISK out of nowhere.” He combined their winnings, losses, and deposits. Each of the three accounts could not account for 25 billion ISK. The phantom ISK was put into the accounts, presumably by Bnry Zombie. The 25 billion may have been used to make bigger wins, as exWinet admits.
The Back Door
After Eep changed all the passwords, he was the only person that could access their servers, or so he thought. Bnry used his new account to create a third account that was hidden, to infiltrate later if needed.
I set out to look at the logs and found that this server admin had anticipated that this [password change] would happen, and right before I changed my passwords he created a back door to the IwantISK.com server (without authorization) and was giving himself and others ISK on their accounts.
All of the steps he took to create this access were logged and backtracked as well as security was tightened, the original code was re-uploaded into the server, all passwords completely changed and back doors were removed. We might seek to take this to authorities as it was against the law for this person to create this unauthorized entry.
No information was leaked in any way.
As soon as this access was revoked was when we saw a hail storm of lies about IwantISK.com hitting articles, news media, and even our chatroom. - Eep
SMA was finally locked out of siphoning ISK. It was time to celebrate their victory. They took to reddit, and wrote tales of their accomplishments for the public. They jumped into IWANTISK’S ingame chat channel to ask for “batteries,” also flooding the channel with links to a recent unfitted Nyx kill saying it was DustinHF’s. At one point, SMA then jumped onto IWANTISK’S Teamspeak and chanted “ook ook” repeatedly. The channel admin kicked them one by one, like monkeys falling off the bed, until the cluster of noisey chimps became a trickle of individual “ook ook”s. Eep was amused.
Because of the way I WANT ISK is setup, its bankers get paid back by the major bankers or the I Want ISK toon, or even from the I WANT ISK CORP wallet. As a result, we are not hurting the bankers, just the idiot who tried to blackmail and extort a nullsec alliance. - ExWinet
The bankers were exactly who got hurt. CCP handed down bans to majority of the bankers for “ISK trading” pending investigation. Eight of them were locked out of all their accounts initially. A few days later, more bankers were banned, totalling an estimated twelve bankers sidelined. There is no discernible pattern to the bans. Some bankers have only been there a month, others for many years. Some were active, others dormant, some large, some small.
Eep started writing to CCP internal affairs while encouraging his bankers to do the same. They had nothing to hide, but saying nothing would not resolve the problem. This was a lesson seen with Admiral Taylor. Admiral Taylor was rumored to be banned for RMT, but Eep said he just didn’t fight back after he was banned. Then again, Eep doesn’t vouch for anyone except a handful of bankers.
I've never told my bankers to keep quiet or secretive about anything... I can't say all of the banned bankers were not RMTing. You never know, maybe some of them were, but all of them? no way. - Eep