The world of online video games is no stranger to impolite behavior, scams and cheaters, hackers and rage quitters. Mostly they're just everyday jerks, you'll find them everywhere, mixed in with all the nice people like a game of asshole Russian roulette. Occasionally, someone goes above and beyond, pulling a legendary dick move that people talk about for ages to come.
#EVEOnline is one game that seems to churn out these stories more than any other game, maybe it's the freedom the game offers, maybe it's the impersonal nature of seeing other players as nothing but starships to blow up, or maybe it's the nightmarish Anarcho-Capitalist Dystopia that the game's economy has become. Whatever it is, it led to one of the greatest heists that #VideoGames have ever seen.
The Heist That Toppled An Empire
The year was 2009. The second great war for EVE Online was being fought between the most powerful alliance in the game, known as Band of Brothers (aka as BoB), and the Something-Awful-Forums-based alliance known as GoonSwarm. GoonSwarm was being crushed by the superior numbers and firepower of BoB. The morale of their players was down, they'd lost major systems and to top it all off, a former high ranking player had stolen one of their super-ships (known as a Titan). It looked bleak for the underdog alliance, it would take a miracle to turn the war around.
While GoonSwarm had originally been formed with the aim of being a friendly, helpful force in the EVE Online universe, their repeated struggles against larger, more wealthy factions like BoB (who were rumored to be supported by CCP, the developers of EVE Online) had led to the Alliance developing more unscrupulous tactics. One of these was the recruitment scam.
The recruitment scam was a simple operation. Agents of GoonSwarm would lurk in the recruitment channel for EVE Online and wait for prospective players looking to join an alliance. In private chat, they would contact their mark, offering a chance to join GoonSwarm in exchange for a deposit to the alliance's coffers. If the player accepted, they'd send money to the scammer and be invited into the alliance. All would be well, until a few days later, when the player would be suddenly kicked from GoonSwarm and be left with nothing but a big deficit in their bank account.
The Double Agent
One such agent, Lenk, conducted a recruitment scam on a seemingly new player. They recruited them into GoonSwarm, took their money, but had a change of heart. Lenk kind of liked this new guy, so they asked if they could let them stay in the alliance. That was when Lenk was told that their 'newbie' was a possible spy, he had connections to the Black Nova Corporation, or BNC, a sub-group of BoB.
Saddened by the news, Lenk went to the new player and attempted to give them the brush off. That was when the newbie revealed the information that would turn the tide of the Second Great EVE War. They weren't new at all, they had a second account.
That second account was called Haargoth Agamar, and they were a director of BoB.
Haargoth Agamar was sick of his Alliance. He believed that the BoB community he loved had died out, the leadership of the Alliance had devolved into a group of petty tyrants drunk on their own importance, constantly fighting amongst themselves and starting internal drama for little-to-no reason. Haargoth's friends had been driven out or drifted away from BoB by the hostile culture the Alliance had cultivated, and Haargoth increasingly found that when he entered the Alliance chat he recognized no one there.
Haargoth wanted out, and he had the power to destroy BoB from the inside out.
An Empire Destroyed From The Inside Out
The heist didn't begin immediately, first the GoonSwarm command needed to find out if Haargoth was telling the truth. The spymaster of GoonSwarm (yes, they had a spymaster), known by the name TheMittani, asked Haargoth for the username and password of his main account, to verify the information he'd given them. Haargoth cheerfully provided the information, and when TheMittani logged in, he found that everything Haargoth had said was true. He was a full director and head of the Black Nova Corporation.
Over the next few weeks, Haargoth gave GoonSwarm full access to everything that BoB had. First they entered their private forums, and, using an automatic archiving program, copied every single bit of information that had ever been posted on there. After the heist, the copy of the forums would be put up in public, for everyone in EVE Online to read.
Next, Haargoth logged into his account and began transferring assets to GoonSwarm. BoB's leadership, fearing that GoonSwarm forces would destroy or steal their ships, had transferred everything out of hostile zones into several large central vaults. This was great for protecting their assets from raids, but meant that everything was in one juicy place for Haargoth to steal with impunity.
And steal he did, Haargoth raided the vaults of BoB overnight, and reputedly transferred several trillion ISK (in-game EVE Online currency) worth of assets to GoonSwarm. This included capital ships, resources and even super-weapons. The war vault of BoB, perhaps the greatest collection of resources in the entire game, was gutted overnight. The real-world value of what was stolen amounted to somewhere around $100,000, a fortune even outside of EVE Online.
This wasn't enough for Haargoth and GoonSwarm however, there was more to come. Haargoth logged in while everyone else in the BoB leadership was offline, and began to wreak havoc. He kicked out every member he had the authority to remove, stripped the titles from everyone else and then disbanded the Alliance, reducing the empire to a series of scattered individual corporations.
The Final Blow
In EVE Online, an Alliance can control space through a concept known as sovereignty. Sovereignty makes it extremely difficult for another Alliance to simply move in and take territory. If an Alliance is suddenly disbanded however, their Sovereignty is lost, and their territory becomes easy pickings for say, a rival Alliance that they're at war with.
The leadership of BoB awoke the next day to find their alliance disbanded, their members stripped of titles and their vaults empty. The greatest insult though, was that GoonSwarm had taken the opportunity to move almost their entire alliance into BoB's now vulnerable territories. Everything the BoB had worked to conquer for years was suddenly the new home of their sworn enemies.
The scattered corporations of BoB tried to rally their fleets and fight back, but without the defensive structures that Sovereignty allowed them to build, they were outmatched, out-organized and doomed. The final blow came when the BoB leadership attempted to reform the Alliance, only to discover that in the meantime GoonSwarm had created a fake alliance with the exact same name, denying BoB the use of their own name forever.
By the end of 2009, the once great Empire of the Band of Brothers was gone, destroyed in a few days by the work of one man, Haargoth Agamar, the greatest double agent EVE Online has ever seen.
I wonder if Star Citizen will ever reach this level of espionage when it comes out.