|Internet backgammon site BackgammonMasters.com stated that the case of 26-year-old Moroccan engineer Fouad Mourtada has resulted in a new awareness over the use of false usernames.|
Mourtada was found guilty of opening a false Facebook account under the name of Moulay Rachid, the Moroccan Prince, and was sentenced to three years in prison. However, he was released after serving only 43 days of his sentence due to pressure from human rights organisations and petitioners.
Nevertheless, BackgammonMasters.com said that online businesses are currently on high alert following the case, which brought to light the widespread use of fake names. It stated that its Mexico site found users with the names of other celebrities including Prince William, Tom Cruise and Madonna, all found to be false.
“We’ve seen a trend in the industry for people to register popular names, ‘gold usernames’ as we call them, such as backgammonking, pokerking, blackjack-king and celebrity names that are just as popular,” said a spokesperson for BackgammonMasters.com.
“We see people in game forums even buying and selling these usernames. For these people its status, kind of like having a custom license plate. As long as the games are for fun, we are not concerned.”
BackgammonMasters.com said that, although ‘gold username’ players have so far only played in poker, blackjack, backgammon and other fun online money games, Internet gaming companies are beginning to look for them more seriously following the Facebook case.
“This is a cultural problem; this is the first time a Moroccan poses as a very important personality on the Internet,” said Ali Ammar, the lawyer for Mourtada.
“This is already a common practice in European countries.”