There is a discussion these days in another virtual blog about what can be done if you have bought a service in a virtual world and the service-provider suddenly decides to close down, without any notification.
In my opinion there is a generel risk spending real money online. There are so many ways today for a hacker to steal the tranaction somehow, and so far it seems that the people working with security all over the world is having a hard time with stopping this, so all we can do as consumers is to make sure that we follow the rules and use the tools that the security companies provide for us and then hope for the best.
When that is said it seems that there is an issue with virtual worlds generally, where people do lose real money occationally because of a vendor that close down and leave the virtual world, and put the customer in a situation where they lose money. There is also the same risk in the real world, but you do have more ways to try to get your money back when you know who the provider or merchant is.
In a virtual world it is possible to have a company, shop or service anonymous. You just need an avatar-name and then you can sell your 3d content or virtual service.
We do have to remember that virtual worlds is mostly populated by people who are roleplaying in a certain degree. This means that your mom easily could live a virtual life that she hasnt been able to in real life, for example to be a landlord or to have a little shop or maybe be a male. That makes it even harder to tell if a person is trustworthy or not. One thing is the anonymity, but when its also comes to change of character then its impossible to foresee what could happen in the future.
This doesnt stop people from spending money though, and the reason for that is probably that it is ridiculous cheap to buy something. Most people wont feel hurt when losing a dollar or 2, and that is probably why it is possible at all to sell anything virtually.
It is dead-annoying though if a product you are very pleased with suddenly stops working or cant get updated anymore because of a vendor that quits the virtual life and go back to real life. We just cant do anything about it. We cant find the person anywhere and even if we did find a responsible person, who would spend a fortune to prosecute someone for maybe 10 dollars.
There is just one rule to obey when spending money in a virtual world and that is:
“Dont spend more money than you are prepared to lose“.