Courier contracts to citadels were enabled in August this year, and we wrote about a partnership between Red Frog and one of the owners of the citadels in an article shortly afterward.
Concerns have been raised about running public courier contracts to citadels, as owners can revoke access after the contract has been collected, or the citadel may be private. The latter concern is dealt with by making sure the “Exclude Unreachable” option is checked on the contract search browser.
This article however, is about a problem which is unrelated to either of these concerns, and is about what can best be described as a bug in the system.
There have been several scam contracts set up in recent days, from Jita to one of the Perimeter citadels.
The citadel name shows as identical to the Fortizar at Planet V, the main trading citadel in Perimeter.
This is one of the contract locations:
This is the market screen for PLEX in the forge:
Same name, right? Well, not quite. The location shown on the contract has a hidden letter, using unicode. When you copy the names of the two citadels from chat, this is what you see:
1021705628874>Perimeter – ? Planet V Trade Hub – This is the Fortizar selling the PLEX, confirmed by checking the ID on adam4eve where you can see the ID in the URL.
1022414850784>Perimeter – ? Plane?t V Trade Hub – The citadel on the contract
Clicking on the citadel name in game shows another difference, it is not a Fortizar at all
Ok, so, using an almost identical name to perhaps persuade people that the citadel is the trade hub, that is part of this, but, this scam has been done on citadels that are not named identically to legitimate citadels.
At this point, many people will be thinking that the owner is revoking docking access after the contract is accepted. That does not happen; the citadel has public docking access the entire time, and yet the courier is unable to be delivered.
This is where the bug in the system comes into play. The Astrahus with the name “Planet V Trade Hub” looked like this when you got into the system:
The new Astrahus looks like this:
Both of these citadels are not yet anchored, so, of course, it is not possible to dock in them. If you attempt to dock, you get “21:45:53 Notify You cannot do that because the structure is currently offline.”
Whilst it should not, obviously, be possible to create a contract to a citadel that is still in the process of anchoring, at present you can do this. What the owner does is, he makes the access public while the citadel is onlining, then a few hours before it anchors, he revokes public access and cancels any contracts that are outstanding. He then unanchors that citadel, and deploys the next one, ready to continue with the next set of courier scams.
The original Astrahus is still in space, but, now you receive “21:43:23 Notify Your docking request has been denied. ” when you attempt to dock at it, and so no public courier contracts can be made to it.
How successful is this? It is not huge amounts of ISK, around 4b so far for the person doing this out of Jita, but, this is their list of in progress contracts, all of which will fail:
This is their currently active contracts to Perimeter:
If any of these are accepted, they will fail, and so the Issuer will collect the collateral.
Other people had noticed these contracts this evening, and began to do the same thing:
Whilst scamming is part of Eve, being able to create courier contracts to citadels that are not yet online is not intended, and is another item to add to the long list of bugs present in citadels.
Whilst the upcoming Dropboxes (being able to deliver from outside a citadel) will remove some of the issues with delivering to citadels, until this bug is fixed, it is going to make couriers more wary than ever of accepting contracts to citadels, which will only harm those who have genuine contracts.
CCP have been made aware of this via a bug report, so, hopefully, this issue will be resolved soon.