9 December 2015

The Fun you have when you try to cash-out your L$ from Abroad

Being in Second Life and creating and selling my creations there always have been an enjoyable activity for me. It isn't like you are getting rich with it, but selling items is a nice way to get some positive feedback – simply that people like the things you make and appreciate your efforts.

As of lately though, Linden Labs showed a behaviour that makes me reconsider investing any more time and effort into SL. What did happen?

Since Christmas is coming closer, I wanted to cash-out some of my L$ to my account. Not a terribly large sum – enough to buy some presents and have some pocket-money.

I did the whole procedure a few months ago already, after reading Kat Fetisov's great posts about it. I was kind of prepared for a ton of paperwork to go through all the necessary required procedures, but after I filled in all forms, got my tax-ID and all that legal stuff sorted, the payout worked fine.

This time however, instead of receiving my payment, it seems I have unleashed a landslide of bureaucracy and anti-money-laundering and/or tax-evasion mechanisms.

I placed my order on thanksgiving day (not a great timing maybe, but we don't have that holiday in Europe, so what) and got a reply the week after, telling me that a support case has been created about my request and that Linden Labs is requesting further information. I got the slight feeling that this isn't going to work out like last time.

The first reply was requesting further proof of identity from me, with I provided with a scan of my ID (front and backside). Also they asked me three questions:

  1. About the status of my relationship to certain residents (the first is a close friend of mine, the second one is the account I used to pay my rent to)
  2. what the source of my SL-income is (you might have guessed right: its my SL sales) and finally
  3. my current residential status.
Fair enough, I did the cash-out order while being on holiday abroad and I guess my IP address was not matching the region of my residential address and hence the whole transaction got flagged in their system somehow. I didn't know that this would cause such a problem. Especially if the amount is way below any suspicious levels. We are NOT talking about ten thousands of USD here – my Airships are still not THAT popular^^

Anyway, I answered their enquiries and clarified the matter. At least so I hoped.

To be fair, I had so far rather positive experiences with the Linden Labs support. About two years ago, when I was victim of a copyright infringement, the labs replied promptly to my claim and removed the offending item within a few days.

One or two days later I got a reply telling me that they request me to send in proof of my residence in Germany. Specifically official letters, bank statements or rental invoices or whatsoever from the last 90 days where my current German address is written on.

Now this is the moment where my common sense felt a tiny bit insulted. Who goes on holiday with any of these documents in their luggage? I mean seriously, who takes their voting-registration or insurance certificates while going hiking and enjoying coastal sunsets?

Eventually I remembered that I set up an online account for my health insurance and managed to send them a PDF with my German residence written on.

I felt pretty disappointed and frustrated by the whole situation. And honestly, even after I sent in that document, I wondered if my cash-out would happen at all. I have full understanding that there have to security measures in international money-transfers and fully support according measures where they are necessary. I don't know how strict the laws and regulations for Linden Labs are with financial transactions, but in this particular case, with a rather petty sum and with an absolute transparent way my income has been generated, the situation is simply ridiculous.

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