Internet security company Symantec's latest "Internet Security Threat Report" warns that organized criminals are using virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft to launder money and spread key loggers and ID harvesters.
The report says: "... a criminal enterprise could open several thousand MMOG (massive multiplayer online game) accounts. Each could be used to trade with other players in the purchase or sale of in-game assets, the funds from which would ultimately be withdrawn from the accounts. Since thousands of accounts may engage in millions of transactions, each with small profits or losses, it would be difficult to trace the true source of the funds when they are withdrawn. These transactions can be conducted worldwide without the oversight that typically accompanies international bank remittances..."
In additional to using virtual credits to illicitly transfer real money across borders, criminals are also using virtual worlds to spread malicious software under the pretense that it improves functions of the games. The malicious programs install keystroke loggers and ID harvesters that attempt to steal information and passwords from players.
The entire report, "Symantec Internet Security Threat Report Volume XII: September, 2007" in the PDF document format, is available at the first alternative source below.