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International Investigations 101

“I was ripped off on the marketplace and Earth 2 developers wont do anything.”

“I reported it to the police and even the police wont do anything.”

I've heard these comments early on in the game. You’ve reported the matter to but as far as you are concerned, they are refusing to help you, so your local police is the obvious port of call. While I cant speak for the developers, what I can say is that on-platform activities they will be aware of if you report them. While they might not tell you what they actually do once you report those activities, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing nothing. The developers have said publicly that they will abide by lawful court orders issued upon them – as we would expect from any business we engage with.

Putting that aside, before you call the local police names for not doing anything about it, think for a second of what is actually involved in what you are reporting, and what would be involved to investigate that crime, to bring a person before the courts and then to have any chance of getting your money back in a civil action against the fraudster.

The first question the police officer you are reporting your matter to is going to try and determine is simple – has a crime been committed? If so what is the crime, when and where did it occur? Last Sunday on your phone at your local pub doesn’t cut it. Has that crime been committed within your jurisdiction – or within the jurisdiction of your police force? Has it occurred across a state line or country border, or has it occurred on the other side of the world? If it has been committed on the other side of the world, what point is it reporting it to your local police? A police report in Melbourne, Australia is worthless to a police officer in Paris, France and vice versa.

Therein lies the biggest problem – jurisdiction. Who is going to investigate the criminal?

If you're very clever you may have identified some sort of IP address of the fraudster. Your attempts to solve that problem by reporting your crime to the police service attached to that country will probably fail. I can't think of any police officer taking a report seriously from a person overseas on the phone reporting a fraud that may or may not have occurred in their country.

There is also global politics to consider. As an example off the top of my head, a western police service asking the government of Iran to investigate something for them isn’t going to happen at all. Contrary to most films I have seen, Interpol is not a police force. There is no global policing agency that solves international crime. Interpol is a conduit. They are a method of information exchange between all the police agencies around the world. Every police service will have an appointed Interpol liaison officer (or office). It is their job to send requests via Interpol to the appropriate agency around the world for inquiries in other countries and to receive and action requests from international agencies via Interpol for matters in their jurisdiction.

Then there are basic evidentiary matters. Some countries will require the victim to provide evidence in person or to be examined on the allegations. Very few countries are going to pay your airfare in order for this to occur for a fraud matter. Further, victims testimony may need to be sworn in a particular manner or fashion or format that only certain qualified people in that country can attest to.

My point here is that investigating anything on an international level is complex. Engaging with Interpol at any level requires a permission or set of standards within each police agency. A small fraud isn’t going to meet those standards. While your $2000 loss might be devastating for you personally, its not a matter of international importance to a policing agency.

That is the fourth thing to remember – you are playing a global game and things work very differently on a global field than you might expect. Protect yourself. Don't put yourself in situations that might cause you or someone you care about harm. Because no one is probably going to care. At least not that matters.

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