Global conglomerate Amazon offered discounted sign-ups to popular online fantasy game, RuneScape, through its new platform, Twitch – and more than a third of the new accounts, over 300,000, have come from Venezuela in the last quarter, a source who worked closely on the game’s development has revealed to Express.co.uk.
Hundreds of thousands of new accounts have flooded the game to maximise on the promotional offer using what appear to be stolen or fraudulent credit cards.
They said: “They are either using legitimate accounts of other players have that they have then had the passwords hacked and broken into – or they are using questionable credit cards.”
Amazon did not conduct appropriate screening measures or implement proper checks to prevent fraudulent cards from being registered with the game, the source added.
Express.co.uk has approached Amazon for comment over the allegations they are failing to implement sufficient checks on new users.
Crisis-stricken Venezuela is facing one of the most calamitous economic disasters in history as inflation reaches unprecedented levels and ordinary food items become almost priceless.
As a result of the economic turmoil, Venezuelans are being forced to turn to unconventional means to make ends meet and, in an unusual fad, they are using video games to make a profit – despite only tiny amounts of money being available.
In an outlandish concept known as “gold farming”, Venezuelans are “farming gold” in online fantasy games such as RuneScape and Tibia.
They then sell the virtual asset to other game players for real money, bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, as the bolivar is increasingly worthless.
Most Venezuelan “gold farmers” can only make the equivalent of a couple of pounds a day.
But even on these tiny sums, they fare better than salaried workers – as the earnings are indexed to Venezuela’s black-market dollar exchange rate.
It is forbidden to conduct real-world trading within RuneScape because it goes against the spirit of the game.
But the practice has become so popular with Venezuelans they are now contributing to inflation inside the virtual world.
The insider said: “They defeat the economy of the game.”
Efrain Peña, 29, who plays games to support his wife and child, previously told Bloomberg: “We’ve never made this much before.
“What job can match what we’re making now?”
Enegebe Sención, 30, an unemployed computer programmer who played Tibia to support his family, said: “It’s shameful. I never thought game currency would be worth more than that of our country.”
Earlier this year the Venezuelan government slashed five zeros from the Venezuelan bolivar in a bid to slow down rampant hyperinflation.
But the efforts did little to thwart the problem, as the economy continues to spiral out of control – forcing hungry Venezuelans to travel to new nations in search of a better life.
In September, Venezuela’s annual inflation hit 488,865 percent in a sign the economy is not yet recovering as hyperinflation continues to accelerate amid a wider economic collapse.