To the uninitiated, EVE Online is a very scary game, to them it’s a game in which everything you hold dear could be destroyed at any moment, and around every corner lurk gangs of devious individuals, looking to take you for all you’ve got, and for the most part those presumptions are true, activities such as scamming and awoxing are a core part of what makes EVE unique. However, it can’t be denied that new players deserve at least a heads up in regards to what they are getting into, if for no other reason than to ensure that scammers are forced to come up with more “entertaining” methods of extracting ISK.
This article is designed to focus on, and give examples of, a few of the most common scams which you will see in EVE online. As a new player you have a slight safety net, that being that for the most part you won’t have anything that’s worth scamming off you (although this may not stop some scammers who for some reason will happily spend two hours trying to relieve you of your 2 million isk rifter.) As a result of this pseudo-safety net it’s best that you learn to identify and avoid scams now, before it becomes too late. So without further ado let’s take a look at some of the most common scams in EVE Online
THE ISK DOUBLING SCAM
You know about this scam, you’ve seen this scam, chances are a few of you have fallen for this scam. The premise behind it is simple, sit in local in a major trade hub (Jita, more often than not) and every now and again post a message explaining how, for whatever reason, you’re willing to double any isk that people send you. Many scammers even augment this scam by saying that they only give isk back to the people who can “follow the simple rules in their bio“ often having a strange and cryptic requirement added (such as putting a specific message in the reasons box) in order to make people feel like they’re outsmarting the system when actually the only one who’s been outsmarted was them. The only way to win the isk doubling game is to run it, even though the scammer will often pay out and double small amounts of isk in the hopes that the person sending it will see this as proof of the services legitimacy and either tell their friends, or play again with a larger sum. This is a scam that preys specifically on the naeivity of those looking to “get rich quick” and should be the first one that you learn to recognize and avoid.
THE CONTRACT SCAM
One of the main things which EVE has in common with the real world is that it is vitally important that you read the fine print. This is another very simple scam which works like this: create a contract, advertise it as something that it isn’t (once again, the most likely place to find this would be Jita local) and hope that somebody doesn’t read too closely before clicking accept. One of the most common iterations of this scam which you’ll see involves the selling of PLEX, the scammer will say something along the lines of “WTS 2 PLEX 1.4b” with the current price of PLEX being around 900 million that seems like a great deal right? Well it would be, were it true, if you look closely at the contract it may still have the price tag of 1.4 billion, but you’ll find that they’ll only be giving you a single PLEX, some scammers even stipulate the contract in such a way that you don’t even get to keep the PLEX which you paid 1.4 billion for, as the contract also states that you have to pay them a PLEX as well. Another variation of this scam that you’ll often see involves advertising a product (such as “Selling Eagles 100 mil each”) and then posting a list of contracts to the chat, the first few of these contracts will be legitimate, however they’ve already been pre-accepted by the scammer or one of their friends, eventually once you run out of the pre accepted contract you reach a contract which has not been accepted yet, however this is the scam contract and the price is either marked up massively (in the case of our eagle example it would probably be listed for 1 billion isk) or the product has been replaced by a similar looking, but much cheaper item (in our case a moa). This version of the scam hopes to make people not think about what they’re accepting due to them being in such a hurry to snap up this “amazing deal” before anybody else does. Contract scams prey on those who don’t pay attention, the best advice that I can give to a new player in regards to accepting contracts from a hisec trade hub would be to read it, read it again, read it once more, and then hit decline anyway, because chances are you’ve missed something.
THE TRADE WINDOW SCAM
This scam is an incredibly simple scam which exploits the trade window to make people think they’re receiving something which they aren’t. This is yet another one of the scams that you see very frequently in trade hubs (have you noticed that Jita is a recurring location?) A typical example of this scam would operate as such, the scammer would place a message in local stating that they wish to sell an item, (in this case let’s say a Scythe Fleet Issue) they would post a message something to the effect of “WTS Scythe Fleet Issue 40 mil, can’t afford market fees, convo me” Reading that and checking the market price on a Scythe Fleet Issue some may think that they could buy it from him, then flip it for a handsome profit, yet of course this is not the case, what the scammer has done here is bought a similar looking, yet much cheaper ship (for our example that ship would be a regular Scythe) and renamed it to the ship which he’s selling, and because of the fact that the trade window shows the player given name of the ship, not its real name, people can be fooled into thinking that the offer is legitimate, yet after they accept the trade the scammer is left with a tidy profit, and the victim is left out of pocket. This, like many other “trade hub scams” preys on those who aren’t paying attention and can be avoided by simply taking the time to hit “show info” to make sure that you’re actually getting what you payed for, of course failing that, simply never buy anything through trades; the market and contract systems fulfill that role much more efficiently.
THE MARGIN TRADING SCAM
This is a scam which utilizes the skill “Margin Trading” to make would be marketeers believe that they’re making a smart investment, when actually all that they’re doing is feeding ISK into a scammers pockets. Margin Trading is a skill which allows you to place a buy order for an item without actually having all of the ISK required to fill that buy order on hand, it’s designed to allow market traders to hold many buy orders while they’re still waiting for sell orders to be filled, however what the skill quickly became infamous for was the scam which it enabled. In its most basic form the scam works as such, the scammer will find an item which is both inexpensive and traded in very small volumes then buy out the market for it. The scammer will then relist a number of the items (for this example let’s say 10) at a considerable markup. After doing this the scammer will then use the margin trading skill to place a ludicrously high buy order with a minimum quantity equal to the number of relisted items (10 for our example). The scammer would then take to the local chat of a trade hub (no prizes for guessing the one most commonly used) and tell people about the “Epic fail buy order”which somebody has put up, often lamenting the fact that they don’t have enough ISK to capitalize on it. People then check the item and see the massive buy order, those who get excited see the minimum quantity on the buy order and then purchase the marked up sell orders from earlier, however, once they try to to sell the items to the buy order it fails as the scammer has made sure that they don’t have enough ISK in their wallet to actually fulfill the order, this leaves the buyer with a collection of worthless items, and the scammer with a massive profit. This is a scam that preys on people who like to believe they’re advanced market traders, yet have no idea what they’re actually doing, it’s designed to get people excited and make them think that they just got a great tip by paying attention to local, yet all it really does is line the scammers wallet with ill-gotten ISK.
THE RECRUITMENT SCAM
I’ll finish off today’s look at some of the most common scams in EVE by talking about an old favorite of mine, the recruitment scam, of course coming from an organization as reputable as Goonswarm I would know nothing about the act of recruitment scamming, however it seems to be a popular tactic amongst lesser, more devious alliances. The recruitment scam requires much more finesse to pull off than the previous scams I’ve talked about today, however the scammer is rewarded for their effort by being able to take everything that the victim has. The idea behind it works as such, the scammer finds a person looking to join a corporation, and posing as a recruiter or some other important figure convinces the victim to “join” their corporation, but of course it can’t be that simple, the victim suddenly finds that in order to enter the corporation they require an upfront “security deposit” due to the risk of them being a spy or awoxer, how much is asked for a security deposit will usually be determined by the scammer after they have gotten the victim’s API key and figured out exactly what they can afford to pay . If the victim can be convinced to pay the security deposit the scam moves on to its next stage, the victim will often be informed of the corporation’s “free shipping service” which offers to move people’s assets to their new home base, the only thing required to avail of this corporation’s generosity is to contract all of your assets over to a neutral party for 0 collateral. Those who’ve spent time in major null alliances will know that 0 collateral contracts aren’t actually that uncommon for most in house shipping services and as a result many people aren’t startled by this. However, needless to say the victim is very soon left without their assets or isk, and never really had a spot in that corporation. Despite the complexity that goes into a recruitment scam avoiding one is simple; never pay anyone anything for the “privilege” of joining their corporation, as chances are either you’re being scammed or they’re a terrible corporation which you shouldn’t join anyway. The recruitment scam preys off of people’s excitement, it’s designed to get people so hyped up about joining an organization that they don’t think about the fact that they’ve just given them all of their assets without any guarantee of actually getting in.
Hopefully you’re now armed with knowledge of the most common types of scams that can be seen in New Eden, it helps to keep in mind that there are many different ways to pull of these scams and that you shouldn’t believe that you’re safe just because something isn’t done exactly by the book. If there’s enough interest in a basic overview of some of the other scams that you can see in EVE online I’ll endeavour to make a Part 2 to this article, however for now, the best advice that I can give you is something which has been around for generations, “If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is.”