Police shutdown a video game cheating ring worth $750 million

Posted on March 29, 2021

In a joint effort between the major game publisher Tencent and the Chinese police, the “world’s biggest” cheat provider has been shut down. According to the Chinese police, the cheating ring had already made $750 million before they were arrested, and their services were shut down.

The bust

This bust by Tencent and the Chinese police began in March 2020 after a video game cheating ring was reported to the police. Now, one year after the initial report, the ring has been busted. According to the announcements about the bust, this may have been the biggest takedown of a cheat provider in gaming history.

According to the police, the cheating ring had an unknown, but large, subscriber base that was earning them roughly $10,000 USD per day. As part of the bust, assets up to $46 million USD were seized including multi-million-dollar sports cars. The Kunshan police raided several locations and ended up arresting 10 cheat resellers and shutting down 17 sites that sold the software.

The cheats

The service offered by these now-defunct cheating websites was a subscription based temporary model. Customers could buy subscription keys to the hacks for a limited amount of time. According to the police reports, it cost roughly $10 for a day of access, $50 for a week, or $200 for a month.

This cheating service was aimed at the Chinese audience, but the report claims that the hacks were sold globally. They focused on mobile games, hence the support from Tencent, specifically third-person shooters. They also offered hacks for esports games like Overwatch and Valorant. Overwatch esports events could have been impacted by these hacks.

Quote from the cheating ring

In a video posted by the Anti-Cheat Police Department on Twitter, a member of the cheating ring that was arrested spoke about their operations and how they developed the cheating software:

“The main objective is to get the keys from the distributors and sell it at the prise that the admins want you to sell it at ($38 USD per month) and give it to the customers. We use bitcoin as a form of transaction between sellers and the developers/distributors to prevent them getting realized or caught. I talked to the development team about the opinions and suggestions and issues from the customers on what they want and how the cheat could be improved. We also collect money from the customers key purchases after purchasing from the panel.”

Impact on the esports & esports betting market

Technically, cheating in a video game is not illegal. If it were, forums like Nexus Mods would be treated like black market websites and shut down. The issue comes from multiplayer games and those that circumvent them for money. Pro CS:GO players in Australia have been offered thousands to throw matches to make others money.

Cheats and hacks like the ones listed above could be used to give unscrupulous pro players an edge in competitive games. If someone was competing in a Valorant esports event and used a wall hack or an aim bot, they could dominate the event and completely throw off the odds offered by esports betting sites.

Thankfully many esports tournaments have serious anti-cheat protections in place and organisations like the Esports Integrity Commission exist to investigate and report on corruption allegations in esports from around the globe. If you are an esports bettor or tempted by the thought of betting on an esports event, make sure that you find the safest options for you.

Related:Cheating in games has been around forever, but is it a problem in esports?
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Andrew Boggs

Andrew is a Northern Ireland based journalist with a passion for video games. His latest hobby is watching people speedrun Super Mario 64 and realising how bad he is at platformers.

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