In a story that was just revealed on Saturday, criminal behavior reached a new level of strangeness, when a Fordham University student was allegedly robbed at gunpoint trying to sell in-game coins for the popular online game, Runescape. It all happened on June 11, 2012, when David Emani attempted to sell 4.7 billion Runescape coins, worth almost $3000 in real world, U.S. dollars, to Humza Bajwa.
After initial attempts to sell the coins fell through, Emani agreed to meet again with 19 year old Humza Bajwa in a Fordham student library, to conduct a face to face transaction. Emani was representing his friend, Jonathan Dokler, who was monitoring the sale from home via cell phone.
During their first meeting, Emani refused to complete the sale of the Runescape coins because he thought the money Bajwa showed him was counterfeit. “He was transferring money from one envelope to another envelope, and I got a glimpse of it and it looked fake,” Emani said. “I was on the phone with John, and I said, ‘Don’t do it. It looks fake.’ ”
Despite the warning, Dokler still wanted to continue the sale. At the second meeting, Emani took out a $100 bill to compare with Bajwa’s money and he says it was at that point, everything changed. It is alleged that Bajwa then put a realistic looking BB gun to Emani’s head and forced him to instruct Dokler to transfer the coins to Bajwa’s Runescape account.
Emani told a reporter for the NY Post, “I couldn’t believe I was about to get shot over RuneScape. I was like, ‘Holy crap!’ I was so afraid. I kept saying, ‘Hurry up, let’s go, man,’ to John. This guy was holding a gun against my head. I wanted to be finished!”
Dokler, who was safe at home during the entire episode, was a bit calmer about the situation, telling a Post reporter, “I’m not terribly surprised [by the robbery attempt] because the coins are pretty much as good as cash. You know, you never hear about a Runescape coin deal gone good, do you?”
After Bajwa left the scene, police were contacted and an investigation was conducted. The police viewed a surveillance video from the Fordham library and interviewed the alleged victims. The investigation resulted in Bajwa’s arrest on July 24, 2012, at his home in Acton, Massachusetts. Bajwa was charged with second-degree robbery and grand larceny and released on $20,000 bail. If he is convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
The currency for the browser based game is highly prized by players and as a result, an entire industry has grown up around the sale of the coins. Although it is against the Runescape terms of service, the sale of coins is constant problem for the game’s developers.
It is been reported by the Post that Bajwa is addicted to video games. It remains to be seen if Bajwa enters a plea of temporary insanity due to video game addiction. It would certainly be one of the more unusual claims of innocence since Dan White’s notorious ‘Twinkie Defense’ in the assassination of Harvey Milk.
What do gamers think? Is video game addiction real and have you ever resorted to violence because of a video game?