The line between digital fantasy and reality is becoming evermore blurred, as evidenced by the recent arrest of a 17 year-old Dutch teen and the questioning of five others.[1] Using a phishing scam, the teens were allegedly able to secure log in identifications for a Web site called Habbo Hotel.[2] The teens allegedly used this account information to log on to the virtual hotel rooms of other members of the Habbo Hotel Web site and transfer the virtual furniture to their own accounts. The stolen digital property was originally purchased using real currency, and amounted to over $5,000 worth of goods. The arrested teen now faces real punishment for the alleged digital thievery.

As the line between digital fantasy and reality grows increasingly muddled, questions regarding the legal ramifications of digital acts are increasingly important. If Gamer A logs on to find his expensive "fire sword" missing, what recourse does he have? Does Gamer A have a claim against the thieving Gamer B beyond any claim he may be able to lodge through the in-game authorities, assuming an internal legal structure exists? Which real authority would have jurisdiction to hear such a claim? Would the claim sound in breach of contract, for a violation of the game’s terms of service, or instead be grounded upon a cause of action for theft? In light of the confused relationship between property rights and digital possessions, is a claim of theft even viable?

[1] "’Virtual Theft’ Leads to Arrest"

[2] A phishing scam typically involves a solicitation by a scammer posing as a member of a legitimate organization. The solicitation takes the form of an e-mail that links the victim to a replication of a trusted Web site and requests the user name and password of the victim. Once inputted, the password and user name are then relayed back to the scammer, who now has the access information to the account.