LL Deducts Millions in FurNation Assets

by Pixeleen Mistral on 12/01/07 at 1:56 am

Did LL punish innocent furry recipients of multi-million L$ donations?

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk


In an open letter to the FurNation community, Nexxus Ambassador tells a shocking tale calling into question ownership of in-world assets such as land and L$, and highlighting risks for those trying to support an online community though L$ donations and land rentals.

Despite a history of Linden encouragement, Nexxus Ambassador claims the Linden game gods recently locked the legitimate owners/administrators of the FurNation sims out of the game for 9 days and deducted several million L$s from players’ accounts – though these players were not found guilty of any wrongdoing.

After this experience, Nexxus has some understandable questions about Linden Lab policies – policies that seem to place all risk for use of the platform game onto the shoulders of the Lab’s customers. Given the Linden’s well-known confidentiality policies with respect to player problems and exploits, the substance of the company investigations remain unknown – as is the identity of those who allegedly acquired several million L$s through apparent fraudulent means. What is known is that despite Nexxus’s investigations suggesting a donor of several million L$s to the FurNation Community Bank was legitimate, the Linden staffers deduced money from his account – leaving Nexxus deeply in the red – after leaving him locked of his Second Life account for over a week.

…In the beginning

According to this account, 18 months ago, Nexxus Ambassador started the FurNation Prime sim which quickly became quite popular and enjoyed both financial support from Linden Lab in the form of a traffic-based “developer incentive” and personal encouragement from Linden staffers.

Today, Nexxus says, “we now have the single biggest community group in Second Life boosting over 1,400 total FurNation Community members”. To pay the land fees, FurNation rents 20% of it’s land area. In addition, the FurNation Worlds Community Bank system was created so that depositors could support the FurNation Worlds sims, with all L$ deposits secured by the FurNation sims

In mid-December, Nexxus accepted a donation of several million L$s to support the FurNation community, after talking to the donor on the phone to assure himself that “the donation was legitimate and that the individual was not using some sort of system hack or security flaw in Linden Labs software”.

A rude awakening

Late on December 27th, Nexxus started receiving frantic phone calls about FurNation administrator accounts that were being shut down. Using a separate account he was able to log in and reach a Linden staffer in-world where he was told of a fraud investigation – but no Linden office staff were available to speak with him until the next day. An hour later, Nexxus learned that someone had stolen the password of a FurNation administration account and was using this to destroy the island sims in FurNation Worlds.

The next morning Nexxus reached the Linden offices and was told of a fraud investigation – but given no details because the information was “confidential”. Later that day there was another sim attack – allegedly by the same person the night before, using the same compromised account. Before the attacker was kicked off Second Life told the FurNation administrators that he had their accounts deleted.

Accounts restored 9 Days Later — minus millions of L$s

On January 05, 2007 Nexxus had his account restored giving him full access to his sims. Linden phone support also said they would be restoring the other FurNation admin accounts. However, apparently because Linden Lab determined that someone had committed fraud, the Lindens deleted millions of L$s from his account – though Nexxus was not suspected of committing fraud. This action left Nexus with a huge negative L$ balance – after being locked out of Second life since later December. As Nexxus says, “I am now facing the possibility of losing over a year and a half of work on this project, selling the sims (if Linden Labs will allow it), and trying to reduce the harm it has caused me and my company’s brand name.”

According to Nexxus’s account, 16 people had L$s deducted from their accounts – despite being found innocent. While Nexxus pursues the Lindens with questions of what actually happened and why he and other are being punished for someone else’s crime, he is frustrated that the Linden response to his questions is always the same – “Sorry, that is confidential information”.

The cognitive dissonance of Linden marketing-speak

For those who have studied both the Linden’s actions and their marketing materials over the last year, this story is deeply disturbing on several levels. On one hand, Linden marketing hype touts virtual land ownership, in-world businesses generating real world profits, and self-supporting creative resident communities.

On the other hand, a policy of opaque investigations and seemingly random TOS enforcement makes any serious attempt at conducting self-sustaining communities using L$s as a payment mechanism extremely dangerous. Arbitrary locking of accounts – apparently without any sort of due process – calls into question what – if anything – virtual land owners are “buying” when they “purchase” virtual land from Linden Lab.

When these issues are combined with unverified accounts having no real world identity associated with the account – the environment seems ripe for virtual fraud and crime. Even worse – if we believe the account of Nexxus Ambassador – this environment seems pre-disposed to punishing the victims with no certainty that the perpetrators suffered anything other than the inconvenience of creating yet another Second Life account.

17 Responses to “LL Deducts Millions in FurNation Assets”

  1. Seola Sassoon a.k.a Random Writer

    Jan 12th, 2007

    Wow! This is actually the scenario I feared after reading through the ToS fully, and deciding against owning any major land. I have my lil 512 slice and that’s for my tiny store.

    With ‘owning’ comes no ownership and if someone decides to randomly select me to grief and file reports, LL’s policy is to act now, ask later. And even if I truthfully did nothing wrong, they could confiscate everything.

    With the new island price increases, it’s even more of a pocket buster to buy and own a sim, that can be taken away, or the money that supports it taken away for no reason.

  2. TF

    Jan 12th, 2007

    Yeah, this is rediculous. A few weeks ago (after recieving a few grand from a friend of mine as payback for money I leant him about a month back) I came on to find that my account had been “Put on Hold”. LL must have assumed or had a very brief investigation that the money my friend sent me was fraudulent. Although I did not look into how the money was acquired, I had no involvement in any “illegal” activity. I sent LL some emails and never heard back from them, and lost an acct I have had since January ’05. I figure at this point it’s not even worth bothering with LL.

  3. Crissa

    Jan 12th, 2007

    When you receive stolen money…

    …Do you get to keep it when the real owner comes calling?

  4. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 12th, 2007


    This follows the pattern set by the Nexus Prim story of yore, and then the GIGAS story where the Lindens took away Hank Ramos’ land in a group and took the side of Adam Zaius — without any due process.

    What’s so awful about these cases is the lack of due process. It doesn’t matter if there is a guilty party and the Lindens made the right decision. It doesn’t matter if they need to have circuit breakers to stop fraud and money-laundering. We all get that. But they can do this with notification and due process.

    Did the Lindens also take all the money that started out as Nexxus’ and the others before this incident?

    Is the moral of this story that you can’t receive large donations or payments within SL? Huh?

    The Lindens need to explain themselves here. They don’t have to hinder the confidentiality of the investigation; they can answer some basic questions like whether they have limits on funds entering SL in terms of amounts or provenance and what their requirements are for depositing larger sums.

    For example in the U.S. under the Patriot Act since 9/11, you have to fill out forms if you want to move more than $10,000 overseas. More requirements are placed on you in terms of having an account file showing an officer or an organization, a corporate signature statement, etc. bylaws, a social security number, etc. There might be extra layers put on like a live phone call made to you checking your numbers again. But the money isn’t stopped from moving, just registered. Indeed, the IRS doesn’t care so much if you lose money abroad; they care if you don’t register that you lost money abroad.

  5. Macphisto Angelus

    Jan 12th, 2007

    I sold our mainland (a good size lot in Cartmel) and decided to move to Dreamland instead.

    I did it for two reasons:

    1. I did not wish to support LL any longer with my tier when they are moving away from doing things that support me as a customer.

    2. I woke up to the false sense of security owning LL land offers. They can yank it from you at any point for any or no reason at all and hide behind the “privacy” clause of it all.

    People argue that ownership in places like dreamland is not true ownership at all. I argue that it is as secure (and possibly more secure) then owning through LL.

    With today’s closure of the land area of the forums I am even more sure of my decision. Now land issues have to go through tech support email hell for response unless you are a member of the conciere group that is.

    So, though I wonder if there is more to this story then the message posted by Nexxus I believe the message at the heart of it. And that is that LL can and will do what they wish and we have no recorse when it occurs.

  6. needs to know!

    Jan 12th, 2007

    Okay so what about people who offer services in SL (such as building) and receive payments from avatars directly, what if one of my customers (unknown to me) aquired their lindens illegaly then hired me to build…does this mean i risk the chance of not only losing my account but the money i legitamaly worked for? Why punish the innocent at all? Especially if LL is aware of who committed the crime in the first place!

    This is a serious issue for any business person in SL, basically LL can penalize you for your customers actions. Now I am DEFINATELY NOT buying land in SL, it is not worth it.

  7. Seola Sassoon a.k.a Random Writer

    Jan 12th, 2007

    Yes, needs to know.

    Now, this happens in all MMO’s. If you recieved ‘duped’ gold, they unfortunately do take it away from you, even if you gained it by selling an expensive item.

    The difference here is, though that is play money, this is REAL money. Thousands of USD in fact.

    As LL has grown for the PR, everyone else is less important and it’s now a grand place for schemers to run amok. I’m not saying they weren’t before, but there’s a large attraction to a game you don’t even need an email address before, and with a duped IP and a couple of transfers, then cash out to paypal, you can easily theive money from the real people in SL who once cared about making this a great place.

    I just wonder… if the largest business people in SL knew this is what it would come to, would they still have taken the chance and invested anyways?

  8. Angelus Nielson

    Jan 13th, 2007

    So what do we do? It’s a start to say “That’s very wrong” here.

    What we need to do is to offer Nexxus what support we can. I’ve known him for a very very long time, back to the days of Furnation IRC chat.

    I know he’s innocent of any delibrate wrongdoing.

    We need to support him with this, because it’s bull.

    I, for one, am pretty sick and scared of this.

    If anyone wants to do something, drop me a line. I can think of two things to do that might get the message across that we’re fed up with the policies… neither of which LL will likely like much, but eh, viva le revoulution.. :P

  9. Inigo Chamerberlin

    Jan 13th, 2007

    OK, I’ll post a comment AGAIN.

    Put very briefly. If LL even *suspected* fraud, WHY haven’t they informed the appropriate RL authorities? After all, ‘millions’ of L$ isn’t pocket change!
    By doing so, refusing to discuss the matter under their legally dubious ‘confidentiality’ clause, and attempting to gloss a serious matter over they ARE almost certainly committing a conspiracy to conceal a crime and leaving themselves wide open to RL prosecution.
    How do we know they haven’t fulfilled their legal obligations as US citizens running a US business? Simple, Nexxus Ambassador make no mention of being contacted by RL authorities, as he would have to have been if the matter had been reported…
    At this point so are any other US citizens with knowledge of this alleged fraud.
    I’m not a US citizen – but if any of you care to grow a pair, this might be the time to rein in LL’s completely unacceptable behaviour.

  10. Seola Sassoon a.k.a Random Writer

    Jan 13th, 2007

    Inigo, I suspect because of the gray areas that are still in internet virtual property laws.

    If LL knows what’s going on, such as duped L’s, or theft from other accounts of L, then it’s not a valid crime to just anyone…. unfortunately. I suspect the only fraud worth getting any Linden’s to contact real authorities would have to be attacks on thier own money, or someone who has hacked passwords to drain a real credit card. If it deals only in L theft, I’m afraid it’s a dice roll.

    One woman was reduced almost 400 bucks in Kansas by a malicious script and she tried to get info from LL, but nothing was done, so she went to the police station, who by law DID take a statement, but there’s nothing they can do.

    As for dubious confidentiality… all businesses have them. Now, LL can’t give specifics, though they should have said ‘We found an av that duped L’s’ and that’s why it was deducted. My concern which is NOT made clear in this article, is that… the monies that were deducted, was it all from the large single donation, or did LL take considerably more than that.

    Say I donated 1 million L’s to Furnation with duped L. In turn it gets spread around. LL has the right and should take back 1 million exactly (I mean, it sucks yes, but if you let people get away with giving other avs 1 million L, it opens it up for people to launder this money knowing the last av to get that money gets to keep it). Did LL take 1 million plus 500,000? Then I’d be GREATLY concerned.

    Now, what HONESTLY concerns me, which is another large detail missing, is the timeline this all happened. Was it given and within a few hours taken away? A day? A month? All we have for donation date is ‘mid-december’ and then 27th is when things hit the fan. Mid December can be as late as the 25th techincally.

    I wish Pix had at least gained some screenshots of these alleged deductions and the alleged large donation and quite possibly, who it was from. At least so there’s something to see to prove this story is true to a T. There are some shady details left out that could make this story much much more believeable, and truthful… but as we know SL, it could be blown way out of proportion as well.

  11. Seola Sassoon a.k.a Random Writer

    Jan 13th, 2007

    P.S. Just because the owner says he/she made tons of phone calls, we can’t be sure if the owner didn’t create an alt, dupe thier IP and use a malicious script and THEN transfer the money to the main and spread it around.

    (Quite frankly, I’m a bit worried as to how the donations got spread so quickly if the person accepting them wasn’t online…..)

  12. Inigo Chamerberlin

    Jan 14th, 2007

    The dubiousness of the confidentiality clause is in how LL use it – not in it’s presence.
    Keeping a person’s personal details confidential is easy – simply refer to those involved by their SL names! Then it’s entirely in the hands of the avatar(s) in question whether or not they choose to divulge their RL ID.
    The dubiousness comes where LL use that confidentiality clause as a flimsy excuse to throw a veil of secrecy over a serious incident, frequently one which would reveal bugs, exploits, development carelessness on LL’s part, as much as, or as well as, wrong doing on the part of a resident.

    As things stand LL is using that clause to effectively ‘vanish’ anything questionable that happens. In fact it’s used more to shield them against criticism (WHY are LL so damn sensitive to criticism? it’s actually worrying, when you meet a person in RL who is that sensitive your usual conclusion is that they have huge inadequacy issues – how can an entire company suffer inadequacy issues?).

    They also use it to attempt to conceal the fact that they administer a completely arbitrary form of ‘justice’ – one which lacks all pretensions of what normal democratic societies would recognise as justice (so much for all the hand-wringing touchy-feely left-wing liberal bullshit!).

    Leaving that aside – we aren’t talking 400 ‘bucks’ (whatever the hell they are – presumably US$?) here. We are talking something starting around US$4000 – 10x the value of your example at least.

    Firstly I think walking into a police station complaining about being screwed for US$3500-4000 and up might just provoke a little more interest than US$400 – or was it L$400?

    Secondly, if you get a statement taken – then nothing heard – well chase the matter. If the cops don’t want to know, start drumming up publicity, contact your local political representative. Don’t give up.

    Thirdly, if the matter is presented as corporate conspiracy to conceal a crime, well, you know I think THAT might raise a bit more interest. And that IS what’s happening here.

    Finally don’t give me the ‘it happened on the Internet so it’s not real’ argument.
    L$ have a value in real US$ – LL have established THAT quite firmly by allowing Supply Linden to sell L$ for US$.
    Items with a real value, exchangeable for US$ on a LL run trading market…?
    Sorry, someone scamming a million L$ (from LL by persons unknown, or from Nexxus Ambassador by LL, it makes no difference, it’s still theft)in SL is NO DIFFERENT to someone picking your pocket for US$4000.

    A crime has been committed, there is a public duty to report a crime (interestingly something common to all law systems I’m aware of), failing to, or refusing to do so is an act of conspiracy, where more than one individual is concerned, and constitutes a further offence.
    All it needs is someone with the determination to get the relevant law enforcement agency to get off their ass’s and accept that, while this MAY be an unusual case, it IS real and must be investigated.

  13. Saarinen

    Jan 15th, 2007

    I do hope this doesn’t threaten the existence of FurNation, it is a very creative build regardless of what goes on there. I can’t say I’m suprised by any of this, though. Does anybody remember when all of our accounts and personal information was hacked and Linden Labs only enigmatically claimed to have done something about it? As far as I know, only a certain member groups with a title of this or that were mass-banned and that, apparently, is good enough justice for credit card theft.

    I think LL is going to be a sinking ship soon with mass anonymous registrations and the entering of corporate interests to replace the community interest that started Second Life in hte first place. It may be time to start looking for something else to play soon.

  14. Seola Sassoon a.k.a Random Writer

    Jan 15th, 2007

    Inigo, you can’t push the police to investigate that which has no laws on the books, and it basically covered on the legal angle by LL.

    However staunch you may want to be about it, I was using that example because I knew for sure it happened, and what was said as to why it can’t be persued.

    Whether you like it or not, the US does NOT HAVE defined laws on virtual property. Just because L has USD value, doesn’t make it non virtual. Do you actually have Lindens in your hand? Can you take them with you AWAY from the computer? Can you use them in trade with tangible usefulness? No.

    They are a medium within a game that’s worth real money. It’s essentially the same as a game like Everquest II, where you can buy gold with REAL money and later sell that gold. It has REAL USD value, but the gold and plat in that game has no value outside of that particular game. I can’t take Lindens to Wal-Mart. This reason, probably alone, and if not alone about 90% of the decision to use Lindens. If we paid in USD, Euro, whatever, the values change to things that you CAN use outside of the game. Most often times, open games like this use a ‘made up’ currency to skirt all the legal issues that come with using a real currency.

    You agree to allow LL full control over you essentially when you come and play thier game. Because of this, US courts believe that the ‘court and law’ is LL themselves. Now since LL is a business, if they decided just to start randomly stealing money from players, then the business could be taken to court, however transactions that do not include LL are subject to LL’s discretion if the money is ill gotten.

    Additionally, you cannot file charges for virtual property against someone who exists only in a virtual world. What are you supposed to do? “I was playing this game, and this avatar named Seola Sassoon stole 4 million Lindens from me… go find her!”

    As for your ‘public duty to report’, I’m not sure where you come from, but the US virtual laws are very, very vague and suspect and if the controlling medium handles it to thier credit, which is what you agree to, you don’t have much recourse. If you did, LL would have far been under by now by unhappy people who have lost thier shirts in SL. Not to mention the other platform holders, for taking duped money out of honest people’s pockets.

    From the ToS:
    1.4 Second Life “currency” is a limited license right available for purchase or free distribution at Linden Lab’s discretion, and is not redeemable for monetary value from Linden Lab.
    Regardless of terminology used, Linden Dollars represent a limited license right governed solely under the terms of this Agreement, and are not redeemable for any sum of money or monetary value from Linden Lab at any time. You agree that Linden Lab has the absolute right to manage, regulate, control, modify and/or eliminate such Currency as it sees fit in its sole discretion, in any general or specific case, and that Linden Lab will have no liability to you based on its exercise of such right.

    2.6 Linden Lab may suspend or terminate your account at any time, without refund or obligation to you.

    3.3 Linden Lab retains ownership of the account and related data, regardless of intellectual property rights you may have in content you create or otherwise own.

    5.3 All data on Linden Lab’s servers are subject to deletion, alteration or transfer.

    Basically, LL owns you and your av and everything on it and can do whatever they want, and you agree to this when you agree to the ToS. There’s more that goes on that they don’t have to release names and yadda yadda yadda.

    These types of ToS’s are what makes the virtual property laws tough to regulate, and enforce. You can’t escape them in any game you play that is based and registered in the US, and frankly in any other country as far as I know.

  15. Espresso Saarinen

    Jan 15th, 2007

    macphisto sez:
    > land issues have to go through tech support email hell for
    > response unless you are a member of the conciere group that
    > is.

    got news for you mac. what a concierge account, or even $195/mo gets you is an rt (freeware ticketing system) automated ticketback. that’s it.

  16. curious

    Jan 16th, 2007

    “Basically, LL owns you and your av and everything on it and can do whatever they want, and you agree to this when you agree to the ToS. There’s more that goes on that they don’t have to release names and yadda yadda yadda.”

    Well if that’s true, then how could Anshe Chung make youtube take down that cnet video her with the pink penises?

  17. Hummmmmmm

    Sep 25th, 2008

    Long ago, when dinosaurs duckwalked across SL, a furry known as Nexxus Ambassador ran Furnation Worlds, he receded from SL, and Corsi Mousehold took over, seem odd? I’ll explain why.

    Back in this day (roughly september 2006), Corsi Mousehold teamed up with Fayte Baxter, a person otherwise unknown to the Nigras, to script an ingame object that can essentially generate fake linden dollars, and alot of them. These hacked monies, combined with credit cards stolen by the both of them, combined to roughly 20 Billion L$. As any Nigra knows, this kind of money doesn’t last in SL, as Lindens eventually find it, but Corsi and Fayte knew this, so what did they do? They sent this stolen L$, a large fraction of the 20 billion, to Nexxus Ambassador, knowing he would be fined heavily as LL demanded their typical 150% fine from him, which he couldn’t pay. Nexxus was forced to drop SL and Furnation, and Corsi was right under him to catch it.

    Corsi and Fayte sent chunks of this hacked e-money to others, who were also fined out of their ass, such as Chmarr Walcott, but they’re not as relavent.

    Typically both Corsi would be b& along with Fayte (who would move onto another account), but it would turn out that and Corsi was e-friends with some unknown linden on the g-team (the people who typically issue bans), so each was cut a break. Today Corsi himself is aiming for a spot among the lindens, and considers himself a shoe-in.

    —A trusted Linden.,

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