On the evening of 27th February 2015 I was contacted by Non Erata, a Canadian Eve Online player and former member of Vanguard Frontiers (VAF). He wanted to give me information of a heist that was 6 months in the making and that may put his name into the top 10 Eve Online thieves in game history.
Non Erata, speaking to me via teamspeak, said how during his time within Vanguard Frontiers, he learnt that they were a corp with close links to Black Legion. and would follow them on deployments to seed the local market with alliance doctrine ships and fittings for an inflated price. However they are no longer affiliated with Black Legion. having left them around May 2014.
Erata was a new player when he was recruited into his target corporation. He had read about Eve Online and been playing it with a friend and Erata had decided that PVP was where he wanted to start, but low on funds, he bought a few PLEX and sold them on the market. Now able to fund a life of PVP, at least in the short term, he headed out to give it a try.
After one engagement Erata started talking to some people in local and was soon on his way to join up with Vanguard Frontiers who had just recruited him, a fresh faced newbie who had only been playing for a couple of months. He was seduced by their promise of a Ship Replacement Program, to help him fund his need for ships, and also by the then CEO Tessa Yor.
However, unfortunately for Vanguard Frontiers, Erata had been reading the ‘Top Seven Dick Moves in Online Gaming’ on Cracked.com and had been thinking ‘I could do that’. So while his corp started training their new member, Erata was already scoping out the assets and planning his moves. During his time with the corp there was the normal sorts of turmoil when the old CEO stood down and a new one took over, Ladygrey.
I spoke to Tessa Yor, the ex-CEO of Vanguard Frontiers who stood down around 5 months ago. Tessa confirmed that she knew there had been a recent corp theft from VAF. She admitted that she didn’t know all the details but that the assets that had been stolen would have been both corp and members personal assets. VAF operates an open corp hanger policy so that their corp members can work together on industry and also so that they always have access to things they need to play the game, whether that is ships, modules, minerals, blueprint copies or fuel.
Tessa also said that due to the fact that all of their members use the corp hangers for one thing or another, and that VAF keep it stocked with modules and ships for members to use, there is the very real possibility that 600 billion ISK may have accumulated over the past decade of the corps history.
She also revealed that Vanguard Enterprises has been a victim of corp theft before, the last one was when a member stole over 80 billion ISK worth of assets from the corp, which happened around 18 months ago. Every time it happened they’d make changes in recruiting policies and hangar security, yet every time the theft gets more elaborate and devastating. It seems the only way to keep the wealth accumulated through the hard work of generations of dedicated members secure is in a personal hangar which defeats the point of having a corporation.
Tessa went on to say that she feels that there should be stern repercussions for those who partake in this type of theft and that the current game mechanics don’t inspire groups working together for the greater good, for fear that you will be ripped off if you trust the wrong person.
She feels that, as the game stands at the moment, there is no reason not to become a corp thief as there is no downside, especially if it is on an alt which you will not use after the theft has occurred. It is more likely that the person involved will become a ‘Hero of the universe’. In real life situations, if someone stole from a company they worked for, they would be arrested, charged and maybe put in jail, there would be serious consequences.
Eve has no consequences, and while some people like this about Eve, some people do not.
Tessa believes that the way Eve handles it’s corporation asset management needs work and that, while individual hangers and BPO’s can be locked, there should be a much easier way of sorting out access, because at the moment a lot of work falls on the shoulders of the CEO’s to sort it out themselves, meaning they get bogged down in admin work before they can play the game. She feels that the corporation asset system is causing a lot of issues within Eve and that it has probably caused a lot of corporations, and alliances to fall by the wayside of history. It is also another factor why she is no longer a CEO.
Speaking on a personal level to me on Teamspeak this evening Tessa said ‘The fact that a trusted player, someone you have worked with for months or even years, can turn around and do something like this dents your confidence not only in the person who committed the theft but also in your other directors and members. It taints your view of the people you play the game with. This is one of the reasons I am no longer a CEO and I passed Vanguard Frontiers to Ladygrey.’
Erata said during his interview that, even though he was new to the game he could see that Ladygrey was ill-suited to the CEO role and that a number of her decisions were met with consternation by others within the leadership sphere. However it is also worth noting that Erata and Ladygrey had a falling out over a number of battleship losses. Erata claims that the SRP for VAF included ships lost due to PVE while the leadership claimed that only PVP ships would be covered. This ‘grey area’ caused a rift between Erata and the new CEO Ladygrey.
In the following six months Non Erata and an alt by the name of Erata Vuld climbed the ranks of leadership within the corporation. First off he started by getting friendly with one of the active directors, Azrael Dawnbring. From there he was able to build his influence within the corp, starting by leading rookie PVP roams to help train new members within the corporation and soon becoming an official FC and then finally a trusted director.
His work with the rookies of the corp meant he had access to a large number of assets designated to help train them. He then worked hard to convince the CEO to open a new area of operation within the corp, that of a group of pilots that wanted to go into wormholes.
The corp set up two wormhole operations, one where veteran players could make money as a group in a Class 3, and a Class 1 where rookies could get their teeth into how the wormhole space worked and how to run the sites and live in the space securely. The rookies in the C1 were told not to bring in personal fits to use in the wormhole and that the corporation would provide what they needed, however the veterans, who he decided could afford to lose a couple of billion in assets, had no such restrictions to what they could bring in.
At this point, playing his role of trusted director, he set up a Teamspeak and paid for it himself, while starting to siphon some assets off the top of the income from the wormholes. After a couple of months of working hard to make the corporation wormhole operations a success, he knew he would not be in a better position to pull off his major heist.
It was then time to pull the trigger. He started by stripping all the K-space assets from the corp as soon as ladygrey had logged off for the night and he was the only one online with access to the assets. The main bulk of the assets were in the low sec system of Akora but there were also large amounts in Frulegur and Reisen, so he moved a couple of alts around to make sure he could take all the assets in one swoop rather than have to travel between the systems on his main and take more time to complete the job. He took everything from all of the corp hangers, except for the one locked down set of items, the corporation owned Original Blueprints.
Across 6 characters in 6 different areas of space he managed to snag a whopping 600 billion ISK in assets, which included 30 billion in just one can full of Tech 2 items, 16b in capital components, and around 500 hulls of different classes and tech levels. He also managed to take around 20,000 blueprint copies, which included the blue prints for a range of carriers and super carriers. In the Akora system he also managed to off-line and steal 5 faction large towers and all their fittings and assets.
When it came to the wormholes, he started by taking out all the assets from the C3, while he used his authority within the corp and a story about moving to a new wormhole, to convince some rookies in their C1 to evacuate the wormhole and take everything from the bays and then the tower itself and contract it to him in high-sec ready for the ‘move’.
Below are a couple of screenshots from the corp chat channel that occurred after the theft, Miss Alt is an alt of the CEO Ladygrey.
I managed to speak to Ladygrey, CEO of Vanguard Frontiers about the theft;
Mail Lite: Hi Ladygrey, thanks for talking to me, I have been contacted by a player by the name of Non Erata, who claims to have stolen 600b in assets from your corp along with a number of BPC’s including Super-capital and capital ship ones. Can you confirm the above is true and if so, can you answer the following questions?
Ladygrey: Yes about 550-610
Mail Lite: Give me a rundown on the corporation, what it does, how it works etc:
Ladygrey: Mining/building/WH/PVE/PVP generally good fun.
Mail Lite: Was there any suspicion on your behalf that Non Erata was untrustworthy?
Mail Lite: How did you react when you found the theft had occured?
Ladygrey: First I was upset, then mad, then just sad. We have a chant when some one joins ‘One of us! One of Us!’ I guess he was ‘none of us’ in this case.
Mail Lite: Can you give me a rundown of the most expensive items he stole. Or was it lots of smaller items that amounted to alot of ISK?
Ladygrey: A bit of both. Most of the ships, skill books and T1 and T2 modules were in the borrow/free hangers. What Erata `did was use a bunch of alts ( Sexy Scanner Slave, Alt 4f, Ginelle Gaterau, Veronica Villancourt, Neressa Natale, Erata Vuld and Jaain) to grab things nearly all at once. We are not sure what role his roomate Shadoweh and his alts needz reps and shadow 7 had to play in this. But do know they benefited.
We did lose a hand full of bpos that were in a can for transport, and we had somes bpc’s we been using on for years.
Ship wise? The most expensive corp loses were the Bowhead, another freighter and a orca as well as building materials.
Mail Lite: There were five faction towers taken down from Akora, can you tell me what their uses were and what sizes?
Ladygrey: No 1 minmatar Domination, 1 Caldari and 2 Gallente So four in total but he didn’t take the mods we picked them up ourselves.
Mail Lite: I understand he had help from some rookies in a C1 who didn’t know what was going on. Will they be punished?
Ladygrey: No there will not be any punishment .The plan was to relocate them from one c1 wh to another c1, of course the POS and some their assets never arrived in this case.
Mail Lite: Can you see your corp coming back from this or is this the end for Vanguard Frontiers?
Ladygrey: What set back ? It’s like a basement that floods. Pain in the butt, not the worst thing to happen.
Mail Lite: Is there anything you would like to say about the situation? Or to Non Erata in person?
Ladygrey: Perfect timing for us that he did it now, and not 6 months down the road.
Mail Lite: I understand that this you have an open corp hanger policy so that members can work together and share assets, is this something that you feel you will have to change now?
Ladygrey: It is our policy, that the “rookies” have access to free pvp ships, skill books and some resources. I am sure many corps have experienced a player raiding the “free-bee” hanger. In this case Non simply raided all of them at once before anyone noticed.
Mail Lite: Do you think CCP should have some sort of punishment for players who do this type of thing?
Ladygrey: No punishment, but we shoud be able to track that char/alt to the original whom is behind the scam. Right now you can just create a new account and do it over again to another corp.
Mail Lite: If you have anything else you would like to say then please do.
Ladygrey: Yes, 1/2 off the corp loss were not from the corp, but from other players in wh and station, he stole a lot of faction battleships and tech II haulers, blockade runners, battlecruseres and heavy dictors and so on and on. Thats the bad part of his plan, the corp will survive with out a blink, but a lot of players are now hurting and we are trying to help them back up again.
During my TS interview with Erata he said that this was not the last of his heists, he enjoyed the build up and the pay off, and even though he no longer needs the ISK he will continue to be to strive to be the number one corp thief in Eve history. He told me that he is already involved in a number of other corporations through a series of alts and is even now setting up his next big job. He is looking to make a name for himself through espionage and theft and is open to chatting to people who either want to know more about his work, or even to hire himself out to other players to infiltrate their enemies within the game.
Non Erata, the character involved in this operation will be kept subbed, and as it is now burned as a corp thief, he will be using it for contact purposes only.
Erata also said that if anyone is looking for any items in Akora, capital mods and components mostly, to contact him on Non Erata to talk prices as they are a pain in the butt to move and he would rather not have to if he can sell them on in the local area.
If you just take the assets and leave out the 20,000 BPC’s that were stolen then 600 billion ISK is around $13,110 US Dollars. This has been worked out using the current PLEX price in Jita.
The question that Tessa brings up is a good one, is it right that this person, who has broken the trust of people he worked with for 6 months will now be able to reap the rewards of a whole corporations efforts? Should he be lauded as a ‘Hero of the universe’ or should he be condemned as a thief and a liar?
Eve online has always been lauded as being an open sandbox where anything goes, but when one persons actions not only hurts his corporation but his former corp mates as well.
At what point should CCP step in on things like this? What do you think?