Most people are probably aware of the online key sale website, G2A. It's no stranger to being in hot waters, and it's now in hot waters (once again) because of its reliance on fraud.
TinyBuild(SpeedRunners, Party Hard) have posted an article on their website, which details some of the trouble they've been having with the aforementioned merchant. Namely, they've been receiving a lot of requests from them to work together, all of which they've declined(they explain why in the article, but it's not relevant).
And now they've been hit with another issue. Their own store has been hit with thousands of chargebacks, and they've linked it to a sale of keys on G2A. One seller that TinyBuild contacted went into detail on the steps they use to acquire the keys. First, the seller will acquire a database of stolen credit card information, which they then use to buy keys from trusted/authorized retailers. Once they have the bulk, they'll sell it for half-price on G2A.
This results in a pretty big profit for the seller, with minimal expenditure. In a Reddit thread on the matter, the CEO of Trion Worlds(Rift, Warface, Defiance, Archeage, Scott Hartsman, chimed in with their own experiences with G2A:
So sorry to hear you guys are having to deal with this.
Have one more data point: Based on our (Trion's) past experience with fraud-driven g2a sales when we were mostly key-driven, that is a complete garbage statement. They've hit us up to "partner" also, and we've continued to tell them to go piss up a rope.
They're a large part of why we've almost entirely moved to keyless in favor of account entitlements on our own platform and deeper integration with trustable (e.g. Steam, Amazon, etc) partners.
Wish we didn't have to do any of it (especially in places where it dings the user experience), but storing it all in our own platform and having human beings manage/review is the thing that keeps the chargebacks to an acceptable level to stay in business. Without it, the fraud is just overwhelmingly insane.
Good luck to you. Seriously.
Honestly, this is the kind of shit that makes me dislike unauthorized stores like G2A. Not because the stores themselves necessarily get involved with illegal business, but they facilitate it. This isn't the first such incident, either. You don't have to go back far to find other incidents where fraudulent purchases are linked to G2A and similar.
They can't just revoke or invalidate the keys, either. According to the blogpost, it's $200k(sale price)/$450k(retail price) worth of keys. That's a lot of potential customers they'd enrage. It places TinyBuild in a tight spot; accept the loss from the chargebacks, or piss off a lot of gamers.
Sources http://tinybuild.com/g2a-sold-450k-worth-of-our-game-keys https://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/4p0nzd/g2a_sold_450k_worth_of_our_game_keys/d4h4hdk
The Curse of Snake
29th August 2004
Yeah, I had made purchases through G2A in the past without any problems. I only had one key banned-- particularly my key for The Secret World and only after Funcom did a sweep and banned a bunch of keys bought through resellers like them (I had bought said key through another site, not G2A). Then a lot of these stories started coming out and I started wising up. I think the majority of users don't usually get hit with invalid keys, which is largely why these sites get by. After all, for all intends and purposes they're just there to let users sell their own keys, but they neither take the necessary precautions to block illegal sellers nor do they seem to care.
If there is one tiny bright spot in all this, from the consumer's standpoint, is that some companies were forced to deeper integration with platforms like Steam, as Hartsman said, which leads to more competition between the platforms, wider availability etc.
I didn't know this, though:
One seller that TinyBuild contacted went into detail on the steps they use to acquire the keys. First, the seller will acquire a database of stolen credit card information, which they then use to buy keys from trusted/authorized retailers. Once they have the bulk, they'll sell it for half-price on G2A.
and that's pretty effin' horrible. I mean, even if the woes that befall companies (and especially the small studios) aren't enough of a motive to shun these sites, this definitely should be.
They're basically that shady guy in an unmarked cornershop. You can be damn sure he's selling fenced goods, but since he won't disclose them as such, you don't know for certain. He just gets his goods from the actual thieves. He declares himself innocent, because even though his little store allows them to get money, he "has no way to prevent it".
G2A are now moving to "legitimise" their business. Doubt it's going to do anything to actually alleviate the problem.