Bungie Uses Hague Convention to Pursue Cheat Seller Evidence Overseas

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Bungie has been permitted to seek overseas cooperation under the Hague Convention to obtain evidence on a Destiny 2 cheat seller. The developer filed a copyright lawsuit against the alleged operator of Lavicheats in 2021 but almost a year later progress is slow. In addition to conducting discovery in the US, Bungie has an eye on the UK but whether that will bear fruit is another question.

Destiny 2In August 2021, game developer Bungie filed a flurry of lawsuits in the United States against entities accused of offering cheats for Destiny 2.

One of the complaints filed at a court in Washington targeted Kunsal Bansal (aka Lavi) of Bathinda, India.

Bungie identified Bansal as the operator of Lavicheats.com, a site offering cheats and hacks for Destiny 2 and other games including Apex Legends, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, League of Legends, Fortnite, Rust, and Valorant.

Bungie says that software sold by Lavicheats, featuring ‘aimbots’ and ammo boosts, give players a competitive advantage. According to the company, offering this type of software also amounts to trafficking in circumvention devices contrary to the DMCA.

By inducing the direct infringements of Lavicheat users who “copy, reproduce, adapt, and/or create derivative works” from Bungie’s copyrighted works, Lavicheats is liable for contributory copyright infringement. Because it had the power to stop this behavior but didn’t, Lavicheats should be held vicariously liable too, Bungie said.

Bungie’s Attempts to Track Down Bansal

While the Lavicheats website is easy to find, even today, Bungie’s attempts to locate and then serve Bansal were less straightforward. Bathinda, India, has a population of more than 1.3 million people so Bungie began with the Lavicheats website and managed to find an associated email address.

In September 2021, the court gave Bungie permission to serve Bansal using email and by posting a link to the summons and complaint on the Lavicheats forum. The post was submitted but failed to appear in public so when Bungie filed a motion for default judgment a month later, the court found that Bansal had not been properly served.

The problem was overcome in December 2021 and default was entered, but Bunsal still failed to appear.

Discovery Process Begins

Early July 2022, Bungie filed a request to seek information from a number of third-party service providers associated with Bunsal and Lavicheats.

The court agreed that discovery could go ahead against Namecheap, Cloudflare, Stripe, PayDash and Coinbase Global. Requests relating to Invision Power Services, Discord, and Google, required more supporting information before they could be approved, the court ruled.

Just days later, another problem appeared. PayDash allegedly provided payment processing services for Lavicheats so Bungie needs its records to support a damages claim when it requests judgment against Bansal. But PayDash Limited is a UK company, meaning that additional steps need to be completed first.

Bungie filed an application with the US court to issue a letter of request for international judicial assistance under the Hague Evidence Convention (pdf). The court has now granted the request but whether it will help to progress Bungie’s case is another question.

Comprehensive Request Against Collapsed Company

Directed towards the Royal Courts of Justice in London (the competent authority), the request seeks all documents related to Bunsal, the identified email address, plus the domains lavicheats.com and lavicheats.org. It further requests names, usernames, all addresses, telephone numbers, IP addresses (with timestamps), MAC addresses, activity logs, plus all sales, transaction and processing data, for all of the accounts identified, dating back to 2019.

Whether PayDash is able to provide any information will remain to be seen but problems may lie ahead. These details aren’t mentioned in the case but records show that PayDash Limited was incorporated on February 18, 2021. This means that as far as this legal entity goes, any data held on Bunsal is likely to be limited to the six months preceding the Bungie complaint.

Another complication is found in the corporate status of PayDash Limited. Early May 2022, before the company had even filed its first set of accounts, its sole director took the decision to wind up the business. Along with £48,000 in debt, it’s now in the hands of a liquidator.

Bungie is also interested in acquiring information obtained by PayDash as part of ‘Know Your Customer’ checks but whether they were a top priority for the company is unclear.

While it may have serviced many types of customers, PayDash appears to have been popular with cheat sellers, black hat-style webmasters and people looking to convert cryptocurrencies into cash. By the end, however, good reviews gave way to universal criticism, in some case linked to the alleged disappearance of customers’ cash.

Bungie’s request for international assistance can be found here (pdf)


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