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Roblox's Child Hacker Controversy Explained

"Roblox" is undeniably one of the biggest games available. According to NY Times' estimate, nearly 75% of kids aged nine to 12 have played the game before (via IGN). In December 2022, the game saw over 200 million players alone. There's plenty to do in "Roblox," including playing custom game modes, socializing with others in the game, and participating in the thriving economy by buying and trading character items. These character items have price tags that sound insane, with some of the most expensive items reaching nearly $1 million. All these things have created a bustling underground market, and IGN recently took a deep dive into it.

The "Roblox" scams are a problem so large that even "The Simpsons" highlighted the problem (via Kotaku). Players are almost constantly sharing scams online, whether it's to vent or get fellow players to ban scam accounts.

On December 28, 2022, IGN released a YouTube video that explained how children are getting scammed on "Roblox." While doing the underground work and chatting with these hackers and scam artists, IGN discovered that it's children scamming children and making thousands of dollars in the process. Between third-party sites, scripting skills, and socialization, kids are taking advantage of other kids in the game and causing mental and monetary havoc.

How they're doing it

According to the research done by IGN, third-party sites, or scripts made by child hackers, are essential to the scams. In most cases, these are phishing scams where underage hackers are able to convince other players to click on a link and fill out account information, like this one on Twitter. They generally target players who have pricey items.

From there, a popular tactic is to use third-party sites to gamble the victim's items, moving everything over to the hacker, who can quickly sell them and make them virtually untraceable. In the underground community for the game, this is generally called "beaming."

Victims are generally young, and their stuff is stolen so quickly that the scam is difficult to counteract once it takes place. It also leaves scars on children, as a Kidspot article explained that IGN referenced. This child was scammed out of hundreds of dollars they had saved up from birthdays, and after being robbed, they're paranoid that everyone in the game will scam them again. They also faced cyber bullying after begging for their items back. There are entire Reddit communities dedicated to sharing current scams to try and help players not fall for them as well. 

As IGN brought up, it's difficult to make child hackers understand the harm they're doing. So, that leaves "Roblox" and third-party sites to protect the kids in-game. However, no one seems to be doing quite enough to stop the problem.

The profits are hard for companies to deny

"Roblox" told IGN that it has done a lot on the game's end to stop these scams from happening, but there's not much it can do about third-party sites. However, third-party sites don't have the same "protect the player" mindset that "Roblox" claimed to have.

A staff member of RYBXFLIP, a popular gambling site for "Roblox" items that's vital for many hackers, issued the following statement to IGN: "The Roblox black market turns poor kids wealthy. For all I'm concerned, it's a blessing for those who aren't doing the best in life." The site owner of Ro.place, another third-party site that's a market for items, told IGN that it's hard to deny the profits that come with these types of transactions.

Regardless, the ultimate problem lies in "Roblox" itself. Quintin Smith, a journalist with People Make Games — who has dived into the issues with "Roblox" in the past — said that the game rewards players for predatory behavior. He pointed out that it may not be intentional, but it's part of the economy that was more than likely created and fertilized by the excitement of "Roblox" as the game grew.

This isn't the first time "Roblox" has been called out. The game makers have been sued for $200 million in the past because of copyright infringement, and even Kim Kardashian has threatened to sue. Hackers have even tried to extort "Roblox" instead of other players.