EVE Online is an open-universe MMO sandbox where players can do just about anything. It is a living world where wars, alliances, espionage and political betrayal are commonplace.

On September 12, a player named The Judge completely dismantled the giant military alliance Circle of Two (CO2) from the inside. As a high-ranking member of the group, he was able to abscond with more than a trillion ISK (the in-game currency) in assets. He was also able to establish control over CO2’s space stations and sell them to its sworn enemy, Goonswarm.

The total theft was in the neighborhood of 1.5 trillion ISK which translates to more than $20,000.

However, the theft was not the entirety of CO2’s losses. The space stations were the home to over 4,000 players who frantically tried to retrieve their belongings as Goonswarm forces moved in. Many were driven to sell their ships to Goonswarm for less than market value and some were able to retrieve their belongings by paying a fee to NPCs. After the dust settled, CO2 had lost around five trillion ISK (about $60,000) thanks to the betrayal.

Circle of Two's fall sprang from its desertion during the Casino War. The reasons for The Judge’s betrayal are convoluted but Rock Paper Shotgun does a good job of explaining it in detail. The reaction to his move was predictable.

The leader of CO2, gigX, was furious after logging in and seeing everything gone. He began asking everybody for The Judge’s real name and address. He issued threats against The Judge saying, “you gonna die,” and “you will lose both hands.”

Iceland’s CCP, the developer of EVE Online, did not take kindly to the real-world threats and permanently banned all of gigX’s accounts.

The Judge told RPS that gigX was a toxic player and got what he deserved.

“Anyone that’s dealt with gigX knows he’s a loose cannon. He would almost flip a switch and go from being your best friend to a raging maniac on comms, swearing at everyone when anything went wrong.”

The Judge does feel bad about some of the 4,000 players who ended up as collateral damage in the incident and has been using the money he stole to help some of the former members of CO2 get back on their feet.

When asked is he was ever afraid for his safety, The Judge said, "There have been a number of relatively credible threats toward me at EVE Vegas." He added that CCP has been very good with security though, even being willing to cancel people's event tickets if a threat is severe.

Circle of Two is still in operation with a new leader but the group is down to around 400 members. The Judge, meanwhile, has joined Goonswarm and is taking a break from leadership roles for a while.