Scamming for Fun and Profit

TMC Archives 2016-09-29

You can make money spamming in Jita local. Over the course of a day last week, just over 750 pilots wrote just over 10.000 lines into Jita local chat. The top 20% of pilots accounted for 84% of chat lines. True to EVE wisdom, the vast majority of those lines were written by pilots who wanted to scam other people out of their money. As long as EVE has existed, skulduggery has been a part of it. EVE University even runs a class on it. And because you can use PLEX prices to assign a real-life cash amount to what was scammed, stolen or lost, major scams, thefts and battles make it into real-life gaming magazine headlines. This article, however, is not about major scams, but the minor ones – it’s an article about Jita local.

TMC has written a comprehensive introduction to EVE’s most common scams, but the only ones you will see with any regularity these days are variations of the contract scam – sometimes combined with the margin trading scam. Contract scammers make use of renaming contracts and then posting them in the local chat to get you to part with your hard-earned ISK. You will find Moa blueprint copies being sold as Gila blueprints, skill extractors being sold as injectors and whole hangars of officer modules ‘mistakenly’ sold for a quarter of the advertised price. The latter is often combined with a margin trading scam, where you create an unfillable market order, to fool those wary enough to copy-paste the contract’s contents into eve-praisal.com. Regardless of which scam you see, they all play on the mark’s greed and aim to turn it into a profit for the scammer. You can observe this best in a scam called the Three Ship Monte.

The three ship monte, known to some from Reddit, is an active scam that is presented as a gameshow. The scammer will create a bunch of contracts for ships far below their market price, and one far above it – like four faction frigates for 400.000 ISK and one for 400.000.000 ISK. He will then count down in local and post the contract which puts a significant time constraints on the would-be winners, and will profit off of those who did not spot the manipulated contract. Often, there are multiple rounds with more and more expensive ships that will only start when the previous round has been a success for the scammer.

But do people actually fall for it? To find that out, I approached the top contributors to Jita local and asked them for an interview.

Could you tell me a bit about yourself – how did your EVE career progress and what got you into scamming?

Auran Glimmer: I ended up in a nullsec PvP corp, and I’ve stayed in null and PvP pretty much ever since. I’ve always hated ratting, so I figured out I could make pretty good isk off farming somer blink promos, and I used that to plex my account for most of the next year and a half, until Somer was shut down. I didn’t actually start scamming until October 2014, about a year and a half into my career, but the idea always held a certain attraction for me. I started doing it as a main income source when I needed an income, but I mostly stuck with it because I really enjoy it.

James QQ: My main is in a wormhole corporation located in a C2 with a C5 and nullsec static. We mostly do small gangs and get our content in nullsec. Usually, being outnumbered requires a bit of bling on our ships and since I’m not a big fan of PVE – I think I haven’t done any in the last year or so – I figured out the best way for me to make money would be a trading alt in Jita. That’s what I’ve been doing on and off.

I came across 2 or 3 threads on reddit about the most successful scams that work in eve, mainly people talking about the Jita scams. It was hard for me to believe that people actually pay so little attention to fall for that. But since I’m pretty much always logged in on my trader simultaneously with my main I decided to give it a go for at least a week or two. I think I literally started 6 days ago before downtime. I created my first scam contract with a Scorpion blueprint and started listing it as a Rattlesnake for 230 million ISK. You should have seen my face when the contract got accepted in less than 5 minutes.

Viola Oceanstar: I’ve played EVE on and off for several years now. I started out missioning/mining, and quit after a few months, as the game felt like a grind. When I came back, I then gave ganking/pirating a try, which I found to be a huge rush and led me to play for about a year straight (not to mention was substantially more profitable). After another few months off, I’m back now with what you might consider normal gameplay (hanging out with a corp/alliance, fighting over territory), and hanging out in Jita local. I have been scamming in Jita for maybe 3-4 months now.

Every time I would visit Jita to resupply, I would see players in local either posting contracts or running Three Ship Monty. Knowing full well that these were scams and to “never buy anything in chat”, I still wanted to observe, learn, and use those skills for my own benefit if it were feasible. After all, EVE has been around for over a decade, I’m of the opinion “evolution” would have wiped out the ideas or ploys that do not work.

What do you like about it?

Auran Glimmer: It’s hard to pin down exactly, but I get the same adrenaline rush from scamming someone that I get from PvPing. One of my best moments in Eve came from back when I was doing isk doubling, very early in my career. I met a person who sent me 10m, and talked to them for a while, and eventually talked them into handing over two incursion battleships for me to “double” for them. It was a real watershed for me, when I realized I could actually make what seemed like crazy isk at the time. That people with real money would really fall for this crap

James QQ: A fun thing about spamming in local is that you pay a lot more attention to it. There are a lot of people that try to fight with scams by pointing out in local that this or that guy is a scammer because his contract is fake, but they usually give up after a minute or two, then 10 minutes later there’s another white knight that thinks he will change something. I even had a guy yesterday called something along the lines of”anti scam police” blackmailing some scammer to pay him 50 million otherwise he will keep spamming that his contracts are fake.

But then you also get to answer a lot of new player questions, at least the ones that didn’t block you yet. I kind of try to fight with the bad karma i get from scamming russians by helping newer players with isk for starter skill books or guiding them to join a good corp.

Viola Oceanstar:  I do appreciate that EVE is a sandbox that lets you engage and defeat your opponents in a far greater number of ways than any other MMO. Most people don’t see beyond the standard PvP route, but victory and defeat come in many forms, be it infiltrating a corporation and destroying it from the inside, ganking a player in highsec and recovering the loot with an ally or alt, or by simply convincing another player to hand their ISK to you.

I do have an appreciation for the ones that run the “Three Ship Monty” game show style. It takes a level of roleplaying and character to keep that effort up, and it does liven up local a bit.

What scams are you running these days?

Auran Glimmer: My main gimmick these days is called Three Ship Monte. I’ve been running this for most of the time I’ve been professionally scamming, and it’s a pretty easy, pretty reliable technique. I’m probably the oldest and most prolific three ship monte host still active in Eve, although the scam’s existed for years and years before I came along.

James QQ: Simple contract scams. I didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, so I just do what other people do, especially since even the least elegant scams work anyway.

Viola Oceanstar: I currently only run the “Hangar Firesale / Quitting EVE” contract sale. Which, despite my willingness to use the term, I honestly don’t consider this a “scam”, as many might call it. Considering that a player must choose to accept a contract, can do so at their own pace with no pressure, and have tools such as EVEPraisal as their disposal to determine the value of the contract, my activity mostly determines how greedy/lazy a particular player is.

How much time do you spend scamming?

Auran Glimmer: I usually spend like an hour a day actively scamming, maybe? That’s enough time to do five or so full rounds of my game show. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but mostly I just afk in jita. I usually do a batch of 666k faction frigs followed by a batch of something in the 50-70m price range. Faction cruisers, battlecruisers, noctis, etc. Maybe like 15 contracts in total, more if people are buying stuff.

Viola Oceanstar: I’d say a few hours a day, but it’s done while I’m doing other things on the computer, such as doing work, playing other games, or playing on my main. Not a lot of attention or time required to post a contract in local every 5-10 minutes. I would estimate only about 30 minutes of actual, continuous effort each day goes into it.

Do people really win in the Three Ship Monte or do you complete the contracts on alts?

Auran Glimmer: You can do either. I know some people use alts, and I started with alts, but I’ve preferred real winners for a long time. In a lot of cases it’s just not worth the effort to log an alt in to save a whole 20m or whatever. But it can be pretty obvious when you’re hoovering lots of contracts on an alt, and the game works better overall when people are winning, or think they have a good chance at winning

How often do people fall for your scam?

Auran Glimmer: Well, truth is, not very often. This one makes isk on average, in the long term. And it can sometimes make isk really fast, like 1b+ in 2 minutes, when you’re on a hot streak. But a lot of the time you break even selling 50m scams (like a Vexor instead of a Vexor Navy Issue) or lose ISK outright. A lot of people try to get into 3SM and get hazed right back out when they lose 500m in a day. You have to buy your ships, and risk losing 50-100m a round. You could run it with really cheap stuff, like 111k destroyers, but it won’t work as well.

James QQ: It really depends, sometimes you can spam your heart out for half a day with zero success. Other times I’ll be sitting in the middle of pvp on my main and drop a casual contract in local just to get it filled 5 seconds later. We were literally in a fight with a carrier when I sold a Scorpion blueprint.

Viola Oceanstar: I’ve had anywhere from contracts expiring after using the entire 2-week window, and selling up to 5 in a single night. It is literally all over the board, with no real predictable pattern. Patience is a required trait.

How much income does it bring?

Auran Glimmer: It’s really hard to get an accurate isk/hr figure. Unlike a lot of grinding incomes, there’s no consistency. It’s a real roller coaster. Some days, some weeks even, you don’t sell much anything. You lose isk, or at best break even, for hours of effort. Some days you make billions in a really short time. It’s actually kind of like gambling, for me; I take a risk and sometimes get a payout. But unlike gambling on IWI, I’m the house in this scenario, so in the long term I make money. But for ISK/hr, I actually don’t know. I don’t keep track of my own income anymore, and I don’t keep a timesheet saying how much time I spent on each and every round. That’d be a lot of work.

James QQ: In my first five days of scamming i made roughly 4.5 bil. But for an activity that is totally risk free, requires almost zero effort it’s pretty good I guess

Viola Oceanstar: Hangar Firesales usually result in 800M+ in profit per completed contract. By my own records, I’ve made 40+ billion in 3-4 months. For those doubting this, you can simply review the completed contracts of any player by opening their profile and selecting “Show Contracts” in the upper-left corner. Most of them mark their description as “Hangar Firesale”, “Quitting EVE”, or “Corp Clearout”. You’ll usually hear others in local claim that scamming doesn’t work, we’re wasting our time, etc. Anyone can take a few seconds and easily find the truth.

What do you think will happen with scamming when Alpha clones are introduced?

Auran Glimmer: Eve F2P may or may not be a scammer’s paradise, but I don’t think so – at least not for this scammer, any more than Eve P2P already is. It’s a common misconception I’ve heard from a lot of people, but basically, alpha clones introduce a lot of new players who are too bad at making isk to afford to buy plex with isk and that’s a demographic that isn’t really that great a scam target, when you think about it. New players in general aren’t the ones who usually fall for scams. Well, most scams, there’s a handful that new dudes tend to go for. But everything that makes good money is aimed, intentionally or not, at people who already have a lot of isk (since they have to have enough to be worth your time and effort to rob). And that almost always means old players. The only thing that I could say “targets newbies” is reverse plex buy scams (buy plex for 1b and a plex, or buy plex for 1.2m) stuff, and that’s super niche and actually really bad income

Any tips for new players who want to get into scamming?

Auran Glimmer: Believe in yourself. Or believe in the scam, or the gullibility of your mark, whatever works for you. Any scam will work if you put some effort into it, but first, you have to believe it can work, even if you can’t fathom how anyone could possibly fall for it. Without that faith, you’ll never try anything.

James QQ: There’s not that much to it, it just requires some patience. Scamming can be a career path like any other,  though not a really good one for your main because eventually half of EVE will have you blocked.

Viola Oceanstar: Be patient, learn from the others in local (they won’t be up for chatting, but you can learn all you need by observing), and always be willing to change your style as you learn what works and what doesn’t. As far as statistics goes, I’ve had more completed contracts on attractive female avatars with long, light colored hair. “Hangar Firesales” than “Quitting EVE Sales” (Why do you need ISK if you are quitting, the masses continue to shout), and of course, Jita > Amarr. #shotsfired.

As you can see, scamming other people out of their money can be profitable and is a valid career for those, who despise PVE. Have you ever been scammed, or joined the “Dark side” as well? Share your experiences in the comments below.

(As part of our ongoing committment to bringing our readers quality articles from within the community, this submission comes to use from Quendan.)

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Submissions.

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