A Scientist's Life in Eve

The tale of the corporate thief

by on May.06, 2013, under Eve online

First, if you have never seen the Eve: Causality trailer, or can’t remember it, or just want to watch it again – click here to watch

At 2 minutes in, the only realy relevant bit takes place – the corp theft.

A couple of months ago, the Corp suffered it’s first major theft.  The thief was a Director who, probably inspired by that Eve trailer and imagining his moment of glory, drained the wallets and moved all unlocked Corp assets into his own hanger.  He then sent a mail to the Corp telling us what he had done, and claimed that it would result in the break up of the Corp, which was what we all needed anyway.

How did it happen? I’m not completely sure to be honest.  In the past, this particular person had been very much against anybody who had tried to infiltrate our corp, and (like the pilot in the Eve trailer) had behaved with honour and had put in considerable work for the corp.  However, there were signs of discontent which we didn’t pick up on and respond to, perhaps because of the person’s past efforts with the corp.  For example, he had alternate characters in Red vs Blue, and was increasingly not being involved with any corp activities, spending all of his game time in RvB combat.

How bad was the corp theft.  Well, it was very significant, with assets and liquid ISK taken easily valued in the 10′s of billions of ISK.  Fortunately for us, we did have some controls in place.  We operate a “bank” corporation.  The identity of this corp is only known to four people in the corp, myself included.  It’s sole function is to hold large sums of liquid ISK for the corp, and to conduct all the selling and purchasing of goods in Jita, both on the market and via contracts.  If you research well enough, you can see what a corp is involved in from it’s purchases, sales and contracts.  It’s no mean feat to do so, but it is possible.  Therefore the bank corp was created to mask this.  Similarly, we have multiple alts in NPC corps who transport goods for us to and from Jita to our staging points, which again masks the corp and also protects us from war decs – it’s a very common thing to do and I would say that most reasonable sized corps will probably operate logistics in this way, although the bank corp is an additional layer of paranoia I will admit!

Liquid ISK was one thing – unfortunately we had a reasonably large (for us) amount of liquid ISK in the corp wallets at the time of the theft.  Also, and perhaps this is the most inexcusable part of the whole thing, we had neglected to lock down a number of blueprints (including most of our capital construction part blueprints and also some of the actual capital ship blueprints).  The reason for this initially was that we wanted to be able to move them quickly should our Outpost be sieged.  Also, the blueprints could only be accessed by Directors, and we trusted all of them of course.  The last reason was, really, that we were just too lazy to lock them down in a null sec Outpost, as there were lots of blueprints aside from the capital ones, probably well over 100, and the process of locking blueprints down is, as usualy with CCP and an industry feature, stupidly slow.  First you have to propose a lock down vote individually for each blueprint.  Then the CEO (assuming he has the shares) has to approve the vote.  Then you have to action the approved vote the next day when it appears in sanctionable actions.  Therefore each of the 100 blueprints has to have three things done to it to lock it down.  Due to the number involved, we just left it.

So, stupiditiy on our part for not at least locking down the most important blueprints and for not keeping the liquid ISK in the Corp wallets at a reasonably low level.

What have we learnt from this that I could share with you all to help prevent or mitigate a similar corp theft?  It’s difficult, because in Eve the only person you can trust pretty much is yourself and nobody else.  I know it’s a sad fact, but it’s quite often proved true.  So what are my top tips?  Here we go… they are by no means exhaustive and I’m sure many of you will disagree with some of them too:

1. Corporate Roles
Set up your Corporate roles so that people only have access to what they need to have, and nothing else whatsoever, not even “view only” rights.  If all they can see is the general tab where other corp members drop junk and salvaged modules in, then that’s all they can steal.  If a player is to be involved in production, make sure that you set up a wallet division just for player production which has as little ISK in as possible.  Also, if they are involved in production, write to CCP and complain about the useless “on or off” corporate roles setting for production.  To let somebody do production, you have to give them the rights to be able to cancel any job in production, not just their own – that’s dangerous.

2. Directors
Consider who really needs to be a Director, as that gives great power.  If you get this wrong, then a Corp theft is always likely to be more damaging to you, so there’s not a lot I can do to help here, although the next point should help

3. Inactivity / behaviour
If somebody becomes inactive for a period, take that person’s roles away immediately.  When / if they come back, they can ask for them back and earn them back if necessary.  For behaviour, if they are backing away from a particular area, or in our thief’s case spending more of their time elsewhere, remove roles as appropriate – certainly if they’re a Director, strip that role immediately.  If they want to be a Director of the Corp again, then they need to want to be in the Corp and with the Corp

4. Blueprints and other assets
The only option here really is to lock the blueprints down, even though it will make you want to quit Eve after the 50th blueprint.  For an industrial Corp blueprints are your life, and for us a lot of that was ripped away from us because we hated the interface so much we neglected to do it.  As for other assets, you can only try to limit what you store where.  For us, we had Corp freighters that were stored in the admin tab that were used by a number of Directors for various activities – they were stolen.  Also, you can’t do much about things like minerals and other building components, as you will have stocks of those as necessary for your building activities, so if you’re building things like capital ships, then you’ll probably have significant quantities of minerals which could be stolen

So how have we coped since the theft?  Did we die and split up as the thief intended?  Not really.  Instead we’ve moved regions and are now renting under a new landlord.  The theft has really hurt as we now have to rebuild our ISK working capital and also replace the blueprints that were stolen, which easily come to 20 billion ISK in value.  We are, however, recovering… albeit slowly.

One little trick is that I had stored away a number of things in my own hanger at our hi sec manufacturing base.  Not corp theft on my part I hasten to add!  However, these were things that were work in progress, for example invented T2 blue print copies, 1000′s of T1 blue print copies ready for invention, duplicate blue print originals  of some ships.  All of these have helped in a little way, although the biggest help was a T2 project I had on hold, as it only needed around 3 billion ISK worth of minerals to let me finish off and produce 10 billion ISK of modules, something that ironically finishes the last bit of production now, and completes the injection of 7 billion ISK into the corp.

Unlike the Eve: Causality trailer, I don’t believe that we did anything to offend the individual to cause them to want to enact revent upon us.  They certainly did drain our wallets and steal lots of T1 and T2 blueprints (not T2 originals I hasten to add – we’ve never owned one) and also all the assets they could get their hands on.  Also unlike the trailer, it hasn’t resulted in the Corp’s destruction.  It certainly did hit morale because of the nature of the theft, but things are continuing and rebuilding.

You probably can’t completely trust anybody in Eve except for yourself, and in the case of the Corp thief, based on what he has said previously, sometimes you possibly can’t even trust yourself. Onwards and upwards!


19 Comments for this entry

  • jellydonut

    Really, though, I don’t understand renting corps. Like, what is your goal? Reason for existing? Do you have a corp identity beyond ‘lets all make ISK’?

    Corps like that simply invite corp theft because people have no reason to care about the corp’s wellbeing. It’s the same whether its one of those ‘we do everything’ corps in hisec where everyone basically plays a solo game, or if it’s an ‘industry’ renting corp in null where no one really cares beyond making some ISK.

    You know what would be really good? A blog post from the renter perspective. I’ve never seen any renters talk about why they play the game that way, the way others do about nullsec pvp or factional warfare or some such. I always gathered it was because they were either alt corps, russians, botters, ashamed, or all of the above. I just really want to understand why people rent in this game.

    • Makeshift

      Being part of the corp in question, I actually would love to sit down with some of my corpies and analyse exactly why we do this.

      My own reasons for staying in the corp is because I know that this isn’t what we’re always going to do. We do have stuff in the works and we will, eventually, act on them, and our current position is perfect for jumping on that opportunity when it comes.

      I’d like to see the Scientists take on this though, especially since I’m not certain how much information I can give out.

      • jellydonut

        Well, I mean, out of curiosity I looked up Scientist’s character just to see where he lived. There I found a history of your corp being in all sorts of different renting alliances, moving from one to the other as they all died a whimpering death.

        I mean, being able to pounce on an opportunity is all well and good, but with that history it just doesn’t sound like it. It sounds like the mindset of the empire mission runner who thinks he has to get just that bit of more ISK before he can finally do what he ‘really’ wants to do in this game, on a larger scale. (god only knows what it is they actually want, as they all end up running missions for years and years)

    • A scientists life in Eve

      Challenge accepted – I will think it through and produce a post. There are reasons, and it’s not just “let’s all make lots of ISK”.

    • dsj

      Very few if any industry focused corporations are truly welcome under the nullsec alliance / coalition organization of 0.0. This will probably change with the coming expansion. For a lot of corporations that like industry renting is basically the only option.

      • jellydonut

        The biggest industrialists in the game are in space-holding alliances. They just don’t make it their only thing.

        • TurAmarth

          I wasn’t in null with Scientist’s corp very long, ’bout 2, 3 months… but I can tell you that if you are a ‘primarily’ Industrial corp without a strong PvP arm, you are NOT welcome in Null.

          If Null is where you want to play EvE, and if you want to be your own corp, and live and play the game by your own rules and if you do not want to be borged into one of the MegAlliances… then renting is basically your only option…

          At least in my time in nullfun that was my take on it… but,

          Disclaimer:
          I hated null and everything about it (except the guys I flew with) and if null ever becomes the main focus of EvE or the primary playstyle, I will borequit.

          “W-space BEST space!!!”

    • Ardent Defender

      Second what Jellydonut said in the comment and would like to hear your perspective on what he asked in comment since obviously your corp has some great experience on that as well.

  • Gevlon

    I’m lost on “corporate assets” thing. Why don’t members have their own assets and help out each other with it? I mean instead of having ships built from corporate minerals with corporate blueprint, it could be built by donated (taxed) individual minerals, by the builder guy using his own blueprints.

    • A scientists life in Eve

      We operate the corp as an entity. If you’re familiar with the concept of “limited” companies in the UK, the company itself is an entity. Therefore the corp buys minerals from its members, then it makes and sells things. The profits are used to buy more blueprints, pay rent, buy iHub upgrades and fund corp activities etc.

      I guess you could run it as individuals, but I think that might end up being more complicated setting up how people have access to construction and research facilities at POS and then how profits are used to fund investments, rent and iHub upgrades etc.

  • Kala

    Having locked down over 500 blueprints in one sitting, I know exactly how you feel about that particular feature…

    1. Yes, definitely. Also, if they can see all your shiny faction loot, then they have something to work towards (to steal). The production roles, specifically when using POS factories is utterly insane. If I were to have a whole month of production in the oven, say something like 150 concurrent jobs, anyone who can use those factory slots can cancel those jobs and effectively cost you a month’s worth of materials. With a high turnover and low profit, this could actually cripple a corp.

    2. Yup. My directors consist of the two individuals that had the shares possible to vote me into the CEO position. As an act of mutual respect, they remain as directors to this day. There’s many other directors, but they are all my alts. One of said alts holds enough shares to veto any actions of either (or both) the actual-directors. and so…

    3. Even in the case of batshit-nuts-itis, I could lockdown their attempts to unlock anything of real value. As long as I can log in at least once a day, nothing bad can happen. Life isn’t always that straight-forward, but its a pretty good protection mechanism.

    4. Again, yes. If you are particularly plush, then you can personally store duplicates of all your more important blueprints, all nicely researched and ready to be deployed should the worst happen. I’m thinking more for t2 here than anything, where the component part blueprints are such a pain in the arse to replace.

    Only trusting oneself is stifling to the corporation’s growth, but its the only way to ensure its continued financial success.

    I -do- technically operate as a corp thief from my own corporation. I store a minimum of 50% of the corp’s total liquid in my own wallet, just in case. Its technically embezzlement, but there’s not a lot to protect the corp from actual embezzlement or outright theft, so you do what you’ve got to do.

    I’d also like to extend the offer of a loan should you need one. There’s no interest or repayment terms, I’ll just trust you to give it back at some point. :)

  • TurAmarth

    Yea… that whole thing just floored me. He and I once had one of those late night long ass & deep meaningful talks back when we were all in the old C1 about just that… “Trust”.

    EvE is, after all, just a computer game. He and I discussed about how we all talk about ‘our’ ‘ships’ and ‘ISK’ and ‘mods’ and ‘POSes’ and our ‘stuff’, but the truth is, it’s all just pictures on a screen… Just recycled electrons dancing in front of our eyes… shared dreams we experience awake, none of it is actually ‘real’.

    We discussed how what is real, what counts, is people and time. The people you spend your very real time with sharing these experiences in this imaginary virtual environment. And the ties that bind, and trust broken, are ALL that is truly REAL in EvE. What he stole from all of you, was your time… what he broke, can never be mended, your trust…

    I know his reasons, I understand his logic but because of that talk he and I had years ago, I disagree with his logic and rationalization completely… and I am ashamed of him for it.

    As you know and as I have said so many times afore, our little corp, HBHI, has three Directors, myself, my son and my son-by-a-another-father. We are REAL to each other, not just voices from a speaker and pictures on a screen. Breaking trust with them would be breaking trust with family… and that, I cannot do.

    There are people we have met and share time with in EvE… some we feel a very strong bond with… but the chance we will make someone else a Director in HBHI is very very slim. In 2 and a half years, we have discussed it about one person, just once, and instead we used roles and titles. This is not just to protect ourselves, but to protect our corp and it’s membership, in the past and in the years to come…

    Even though we no longer share the same skies or playstyle… (we got a Moros, an Archon, 2 Orca’s and a Retriever [my kill!] just this weekend!!!)… You know I have many friends in your corp and we know what you are going through. We wish you all the best and we know you will rebuild.

    Plus, you take care of YOURSELF bro… you are in my thoughts. =]

    Tur

  • Bobbins

    Why didn’t you name the thief? By granting anonymity are you not dooming another unsuspecting corp who this character joins?

    • A scientists life in Eve

      I was / am in two minds about naming him. If I do name him then some people will contact him to congratulate him etc. I would say naming him wouldn’t stop him doing it again as he has enough ISK to buy another toon and use that. His reasons were more against the actual corp. I’m not going to do the usual and spill “carebear tears” over this. At the moment I don’t see what naming him would achieve. The best thing is to contact an applicant’s previous CEO for a reference. We would be honest and name what he did to any recruitment officer

      • Mabrick (@Mabrick)

        I would urge you to not name the thief. That would only give the thief notoriety, which is what the thief wants. After all, who would The Mittani be if no one knew what he’d done? Besides, those who need to know who the thief is already know and we aren’t talking about it openly – but we are talking about it. Capsuleer memories are as long as their lives and not lost if the clone is not up to date. Thanks for writing this up and for the tips. They will come in handy to more than a few people I’m certain.

        • Bobbins

          it always amused me how people who knew about the Mittani’s reputation thought because he was famous thought he was a trusted 3rd party for capital sales.

          • TurAmarth

            I do not believe the Naming of Names is needed in this case. As Mab said those who need to know already do.Plus, IMHO, this is not something he will probably ever do again, he had his reasons, as Sci and I know, and they were more corp related than ‘gameplay’. He is actually not a personally ‘bad’ guy or an ass IRL or even ingame… so no, I agree w/ Sci n Mab, naming names would not change anything nor do anything to ‘save’ anyone else.

            And Mittens as a ‘trusted 3rd Party”????… I don’t know of anyone personally who ever believed that about him, but if there were, oh DAMN did they deserve what I am sure they got from the man who said… and I quote yet once again…

            “…Goons, Broskis and Redditors can be outright bastards to everyone else in the EVE – besides their allies, of course – and get away with it. The game’s normal culture of honor doesn’t apply…”

  • Ardent Defender

    Sorry to hear about your Corp loss and loss of assets. Its always a possibility that such things will happen in EVE. Through all the steps you all took to mitigate it happening, it still occurred through some mean. It only had to happen once It appears to do the damage. Something to learn from it appears to all.

    Hopefully you all slowly rebuild and rebuild stronger over time. Only time will tell indeed as well.

    Kinda miss doing business together since you had to take a leave of absence in EVE. However if there is any way I can help don’t hesitate to ask. Likewise don’t hesitate to ask if I may be interested in buying some resources as well. You never know.

    • Raziel Walker

      This is one of the reasons why for the first three years I played the game I always moved my assets by myself instead of trusting a corp mate with a jump freighter or carrier to move my stuff.
      Now I just write off anything not in high sec as an investment with uncertain returns. So far I never lost anything to theft though.

      I might have a bit more roles and permissions within my corp as strictly needed. It works both ways though. Since the corp trusts me I will not shame that trust. If they acted paranoid and considered me a security risk I might not feel trusted, might not feel invested or part of the corp and be tempted to run away with whatever.

Leave a Reply