Ukraine PlayStation 4 Farm Actually Grinding 'FIFA'

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HYPEBEAST 19 July, 2021 - 05:10am 18 views

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According to the Ukrainian business journal Delo, which undertook an investigation itself following skepticism from initial findings by the authorities, the 3,800 PS4s discovered weren’t actually being used to mine cryptocurrency, which makes sense given how their hardware and graphics cards aren’t ideal. It also pointed out that in many photos you can see game discs actually sticking out of the consoles. The Security Service of Ukraine has refused to comment on Delo‘s findings, explaining that the ongoing investigation must be kept a secret.

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Seized PS4 consoles in Ukraine used for FIFA accounts, not crypto mining

Cointelegraph 19 July, 2021 - 06:09am

The gaming hardware confiscated by the Ukrainian police was being used to create in-game currency and not for farming cryptocurrency.

Based on the initial reports at the time, the PS4 consoles, graphics cards, processing units and other hardware found at the scene was being used for illegal crypto mining operations.

However, according to an investigation by Ukrainian business publication Delo, the seized PlayStation consoles were being used to generate cards and coins for FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), a game mode in the popular FIFA football game title.

Players usually have to earn FUT coins and cards by winning football matches in the game, but the busted warehouse was allegedly generating black market variants of these in-game items. According to Delo, Ukraine’s Secret Service has yet to confirm or deny its findings, with the agency electing to keep details of the ongoing investigation under wraps.

Related: Ukrainian police seize 3,800 PS4 consoles used for illegal crypto mining

Cointelegraph’s initial report did cast doubts on the likelihood of the illegal operation being used for crypto mining stating:

However, using gaming hardware to mine cryptocurrencies is not unheard of and has in fact been linked with graphics processing unit (GPU) shortages for non-crypto mining users. Increasing demand for GPUs from miners coupled with a global semiconductor shortage saw budget PC gamers unable to secure next-generation graphics cards for their hardware.

The PlayStation 4 cryptomining warehouse was a FIFA bot farm

TechSpot 19 July, 2021 - 05:19am

Ukrainian publication Delo was skeptical that anyone would use something as uneconomical as PS4 slims to mine crypto, even with the current pricing and availability issues facing graphics cards. But the biggest giveaway was that some of the images released by Ukraine's security forces show game discs sticking out of the last-gen consoles.

The publication's sources say the PS4 Slims were controlled by PCs running bots, farming FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) for profit. The coins, or even the loaded accounts themselves, could then be sold for real money.

FUT mode lets players use FIFA points—500 of these cost $5—to buy card packs that come with random rewards. But the odds of getting some of the world's top players are less than 1%. It's possible to play FIFA (for a very long time) and accrue enough in-game currency to buy individual player cards on the market or packs from the store, and you can also buy FUT coins on the black market, though EA says the latter can result in a ban.

The mode continues to be a lucrative feature for EA; FIFA Ultimate Team hit a record six million daily users last December and was behind more than a quarter ($1.49 billion) of EA's net revenue during the previous financial year.

Given that over 500 GPUs and 50 processors were also discovered in the Vinnytsia warehouse, it's possible that some cryptomining was taking place, but that wasn't the farm's primary purpose.

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PS4 "Crypto" Warehouse Was Actually Farming FIFA Crap

Kotaku 18 July, 2021 - 07:00pm

That’s not overall FIFA sales. That’s just in-game digital sales surrounding FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, which is built around the idea of constructing a team for online play by paying for decks of virtual cards that contain random assortments of virtual players.

Crypto farm used 3800 PS4s for FIFA bots, not to mine cryptocurrency

TweakTown 18 July, 2021 - 06:23pm

Last week, the Security Service of Ukraine busted a crypto farm and seized a massive stockpile of tech that included over 500 graphics cards, 50 CPUs, and a whopping 3800 PS4 Pros. Erroneous reports assumed the PS4s were somehow being used for crypto farming--which is something that hasn't really been done before.

The reality is the miners weren't using the consoles for crypto. According to new reports from European news site Delo, the miners were using the PS4s to make money off of FIFA. The PS4 Pros were a bot farm, complete with special AI that simulated actual player behaviors, playstyles, and actions. These bots basically racked up in-game coins and leveled up accounts, which were then sold on an underground market for a profit.

This is nothing new in the games industry, and is somewhat reminiscent of the CSGO Lotto scandals from a few years ago.

The truth is FIFA is a lucrative business. EA makes over $1 billion every year from FIFA's monetized microtransactions and full game sales, and the franchise is the best-selling sports games property of all time.

It's also a great digital hustle with lots of demand for high-leveled accounts.

Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man's Sky with the magic of VR.

The Ukranian PS4 Cryptocurrency Farm Was Actually Botting FIFA

TechRaptor 18 July, 2021 - 08:37am

Last week, TechRaptor reported on the bust of a Ukranian bot operation that was using nearly four-thousand Sony PlayStation 4s as cryptocurrency miners. Though the Ukranian government did not officially state that it was a cryptocurrency operation, evidence initially suggested that to be the case. New details have emerged recently regarding the thousands of systems and their real purpose, and it appears that dreams of PlayStation 4s mining cryptocurrency will have to be put on hold.

The PS4 consoles siphoned electricity and ran for days on end to grind FIFA accounts, using a FIFA bot before being sold. According to the Ukranian government, the systems altogether used somewhere between 5-7 million UAH (Ukranian hryvnia) worth of power in a single month, or about $180,000-257,000. This power stolen by the Ukranian bot farm had the potential to leave entire neighborhoods in the city of Vinnytsia in the dark.

In the latest FIFA title, players have access to a game mode known as the FIFA Ultimate Team mode (FUT for short). Players assemble their fantasy teams and compete against other players online. First, however, they have to assemble them, gacha-style. One can pay real money to purchase and pull these cards, though the odds of a desirable or meta player are rather low. The second option is, of course, to grind for the opportunity to open free lootboxes. The new information suggests that this farm was simply set up to have FIFA bots grind hours of games at a time and sell the accounts to players. Many pointed out as the story broke that the consoles used were the PlayStation 4 Slims, less suited to cryptocurrency mining than the more robust PS4 Pro.

Electronic Arts and other companies have faced criticism over lootboxes and similar systems, with detractors calling it little more than gambling and pay-to-win. Given FIFA's ESRB Rating of E for Everyone, many also alleged that it promotes gambling to children. Internal documents leaked in April suggest that Electronic Arts attempted to steer players towards this FUT mode whenever possible. Certainly, a player could grind their way up and only earn free lootboxes, but the report indicates an incredible time investment compared to the ease of just purchasing them with real currency. Allegations of EA employees themselves selling character cards spurred an internal investigation, with some calling it "EAGate." Various countries such as Australia and Belgium have introduced legislation to restrict or even outright ban lootboxes and other rewards.

The winery issued an official statement, claiming "nothing to do with illegal activities and that equipment for mining cryptocurrencies has never worked on its premises." It also claimed its employees assisted in the searches. According to Ilya Trebor and Maria Pirogova at Delo.ua, those responsible for the Ukranian bot operation spent an estimated 30 million UAH (around $1.1 million) on consoles alone, with various other video cards and peripherals also seized at the scene. The perpetrators are charged with theft of water, electricity, or heat through unauthorized use. Such a charge carries a fine from 1700-3400 UAH or up to three years in prison if convicted.

While bizarre, the truth can seem stranger than fiction. The practice of buying and selling game accounts and gold-farming has been around practically forever, though many companies have taken steps to crack down on these activities over the years.

What are your thoughts on the the practice? We're always listening at TechRaptor, so please share your insights with us down below or on our social media.

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An alleged cryptomine was actually farming 'FIFA Ultimate Team' currency

NME 18 July, 2021 - 07:24am

A warehouse in Ukraine believed to be used for crypto mining actually contained over 3,800 PS4’s farming FIFA Ultimate Team currency.

A document posted on the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU) website states that the largest crypto farm in Ukraine has been shut down. However, most of the hardware used consisted of PlayStation 4 consoles, which are not powerful enough for effective crypto mining.

Instead, it is believed the space was used to grind out FIFA Coins on a mass scale. The SBU document states that over 3,800 consoles were seized, as well as 500 video cards, and 50 processors.

The warehouse used for the bots was targeted because of the illegal use of electricity. The SBU estimates that the value of power stolen could range from £130k – £180k (5 – 7 million Ukrainian Hryvnia)

FIFA Coins can be used to purchase packs of players for the game’s popular FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode. Packs can be purchased for real-world money or with earned FIFA Coins.

Players can also be bought for coins on the in-game auction house, eliminating the random element of purchasing packs. The bots are used through numerous PS4 consoles all playing the game at once, therefore increasing the amount of FIFA Coins earned.

There are several black-market sites for selling and purchasing FIFA Coins. This is done using the in-game auction house and a quick throwaway trade that provides a purchaser with the number of coins they paid for. People can even sell and purchase entire accounts based on the value of their collected players and currency.

In other gaming news, over 700,000 graphics cards were purchased by crypto-miners earlier this year, leading to limited availability and high prices.

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Ukraine’s ‘Largest Illegal’ Mining Facility May Have Been a FIFA Bot Farm – Mining Bitcoin News

Bitcoin News 18 July, 2021 - 03:30am

by Lubomir Tassev

Earlier in July, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced it uncovered a crypto mining farm that had been powered with stolen energy in the city of Vinnytsia. Officers seized around 5,000 units of hardware, including 3,800 gaming consoles and 500 video cards, from a former warehouse of Vinnytsiaoblenerho. The local electric utility allegedly suffered losses of up to $256,000.

The illegal mining facility, the law enforcement agency said, was operated by residents of Vinnytsia and the capital Kyiv. According to an article by Ain.ua, the confiscated equipment belongs to a company called MMI Engineering which is engaged in software development, network maintenance, and AI training. Its lawyers contacted the news outlet and accused the SBU of spreading false information.

The IT firm claims it buys its electricity from JSC Vinnytsiaoblenerho and the area’s grid operator, Enera Vinnytsia Ltd., paying its bills at commercial rates and in accordance with the meter readings. It also rents the premises hosting its hardware from a company called Alfa Energy which is the current owner of the warehouse.

Meanwhile, Vinnytsiaoblenerho released a statement, according to which the warehouse has never been occupied by a cryptocurrency farm. Its employees were also unable to detect any signs of electricity theft during an investigation conducted with representatives of the regional branch of Ukraine’s State Inspectorate for Energy Supervision. The utility emphasized:

The information about multimillion dollar thefts of electricity does not correspond to reality.

MMI Engineering said the seized equipment costs about 30 million Ukrainian hryvnia (over $1 million) and it’s now trying to get it back. The company added that the SBU raid has paralyzed its operations and its lawyers have already filed official complaints with the Pechersk District Court and the Prosecutor General’s Office in Kyiv.

The Ukrainian entity, which is owned by the UAE-based firm Zafar Technology, did not provide any details regarding the specific use of its computer equipment. Playstation 4 Slims gaming consoles and discs have been spotted in the photographs released by the SBU on June 8. And although it’s generally possible to mine cryptos with them, many in Ukraine believe it’s more likely the consoles have been used for gaming-related applications.

The evidence suggests that the facility in Vinnytsia could have been a gaming bot farm rather than a crypto mining one. According to an investigative report by the Ukrainian business portal Delo.ua, the bot farm may have been used for grinding. That’s when gamers employ software to perform repetitive tasks in gameplay that reward the player with something valuable in the particular scenario like gaining experience points, for example, or raising a character’s level. The SBU declined to comment on the possible use of the hardware citing the ongoing investigation.

Delo is quoting an unnamed source from the SBU, who reportedly said that the Playstations were used for “pumping bots” for FIFA, EA Games’ famous soccer video game series. In FIFA’s popular Ultimate Team mode, gamers can gather a team of favorite players and compete against each other online.

They can either spend real cash on loot boxes that give them a limited chance of obtaining high-value cards, Eurogamer explains, or play for months in order to save enough FUT coins, the in-game currency, to spend on the FIFA auction house. It appears the PS4 consoles in the Ukrainian bot farm have been grinding to create accounts loaded with FUT money that can be subsequently sold to gamers, likely on the black market.

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Thousands of PS4s Being Used As a FIFA Ultimate Team Bot Farm Seized by Ukrainian Police

IGN India 18 July, 2021 - 12:15am

As reported by Eurogamer, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced last week that they had shut down a cryptocurrency mining farm that contained 3800 PS4s. However, this mining farm's main function was not trying to get cryptocurrency but instead was building valuable FIFA Ultimate Team accounts.

An investigation by Ukraine business newspaper Delo revealed the truth of this operation - that these PS4s were being controlled by PCs running bots to constantly farm Ultimate Team for profit.

The SBU noted that they did also find 500 video cards, 50 processors, draft documentation on electricity consumption, notebooks, phones, flash drives and more, hinting that while there may have been some cryptocurrency mining, this farm was still mostly about FIFA.

While players can unlock high-value cards via real-world money loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team, players can also play enough of the game to earn in-game currency to bid on the exact cards you want. There is also a way to buy FIFA Ultimate Team coins on the black market, but EA has warned that buying or selling FIFA Ultimate Team coins could result in a ban.

These PS4s would just constantly be playing games and racking up this in-game currency. Once enough was earned, the accounts would be loaded up with the best and most valuable players cards before being put on the black market at a high price.

In other FIFA news, EA recently revealed FIFA 22 will be arriving on all platforms on October 1, 2021, and will feature Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe as its cover star. However, its next-gen upgrade comes at a hefty cost and FIFA 22's PC version won't include next gen improvements like Hyper Motion Technology.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

Alleged Ukrainian cryptocurrency mining operation with 3,800 PS4 Slims was actually designed for grinding FIFA Ultimate Team coins

Notebookcheck.net 18 July, 2021 - 12:00am

Delo's investigation found that the entire setup was meant to grind FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) coins. The budding entrepreneurs here probably wanted to make a quick buck off EA's massively popular football franchise, which has increasingly been criticized for its in-app purchases that encourage gambling. In essence, the only crime they committed was stealing power off the city grid. It was quite a significant amount, too, so the authorities are unlikely to go easy on them.

FUT coins are essentially an in-game currency that lets you build your dream squad by purchasing players from the auction house. One can also try their luck and buy FUT packs from the store and open them for a chance to get a 'good' player. While a player needs to remain online to earn FUT coins, playing with other human opponents is not mandatory. One can acquire the currency by playing with AI opponents and completing seasonal objective, although that process is quite time consuming. That is where the automation comes in, as pre-programmed bots can effortlessly grind through the game without breaking a sweat. 

EA's outrageous prices force many players to look at third-party sources for their fix of FUT coins. On paper, EA doesn't allow players to transfer the currency between accounts. However, there are plenty of third-party websites that will sell you FUT coins for cheap. One can even buy an account with a fully-stacked team. The latter is a safer route, as one doesn't run the risk of getting banned.

via Eurogamer

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