Police in China have arrested 2 men for running a World of Warcraft gold farming operation and charged them with “unfair revenue distribution” (presumably a crime against socialism of some kind). The two men ran the operation for 7 months and earned 1.4 Million RMB (just over US$200,000). They had 20 computers and 20 employees and were based in Chengdu’s Shuangliu county.[From Only in China – Gold Farmers Arrested! Earned over US$200,000 in 7 Months – PlayNoEvil Game Security News & Analysis]
Of course, if your local constabulary don’t respond when you dial 999 to complain that there’s been a jack and your friend’s World of Warcraft Guild has been rolled over for a hundred gold pieces, because they’re busy helping people look for their glasses and so on, you’ll have to look for alternative law-and-order structures. I doubt that the Financial Services Authority (FSA) would be much help either, although it enough players got together they might be able to persuade the government to underwrite the gold pieces and have WoW Gold Institutions regulated under the Payment Services Directive (PSD). There is an alternative, though. As in any other frontier community, a long way from centralised authority, virtual communities can choose to police themselves.
disgruntled Alliance players have come up with a clever, though perhaps somewhat EULA-non-compliant hack to enable community self-help (aka murder) as means of silencing n00b bot gold spammers[From Terra Nova: The Bot-Slaughtering Totems of Stormwind]
It’s the Wild West. Economics may work differently in wholly virtual environments, but human nature does not.