Friday, October 06, 2006

WoW Scams to Avoid

After the string of account thievery that has gone around World of Warcraft over the last month I started to become interested in some of the other under handed techniques used to steal gold from players. Most work like real world scams where the con artist encourages the greed of a player by offering a really good deal. The really good scammers offer deals that are only a little bit of a bargain but they use items that are used often and have a high demand. This seems to fool people more effectively then offering a outrageously low price on something that is rare.

I am going to quickly go through some of the scams I've actually seen first hand or had a friend fall victim too. I am already in hot water since someone recognized themselves in the key logger article so I have to keep names out of this one.

The Quick Switch Scam
The scammer will offer to sell you an item for a very good price. He will come to you and open the trade window and actually put the item into it. Then as you are gathering the agreed upon low price he will switch the item out with another junk item that has the same icon. The scammer is hoping in your hurry to get the item for the low price that you will quickly hit trade and not notice the switch.

My experience:
I've only ever had this happen once to me back when I was a new to the game and I recognized the switch. The seller claimed he was just fooling around and had changed his mind on selling the item. I think this scam is widely recognized now and only those new to the game are being targeted. On most servers this scam is out of practice but may still be used by the occasional asshat trying to get an extra buck.

How to Avoid:
-Don't doing any trading when your tired. Scammers depend on either greed or lack of attention to make money
-Avoid responding to private tells trying to sell you an item. Most scammers are recognized in trade channel so they tend not to advertise there.
-Be careful of buying items from low level alts.

The Runaway Crafter Scam
Someone offers to make an item for you if you can provide the materials. After you give them the materials they either sell them or send them to their main character using the mailbox. In either case they probably put you on their ignore list as soon as the trade was done and plan on quickly logging off. This is the base scam in World of Warcraft and is comparably to grabbing the money from a cash register and running. But just like in the real world such obvious thievery has strict consequences. Usually people who engage in a crafter scam will gain a reputation so bad that whenever they log on people will make a comment in the general chat channel.

My Experience:
This one actually got me once when I was a playing a young hunter and wanted a pair of barbaric bracers made. The person faked a disconnect and when I caught back up to him claimed he would send it in the mail when he could be bothered to make it. Usually crafter scammers rely on a strategy like faking a disconnect so that their reputation decays more slowly. At least once every two weeks I hear about someone getting ripped off by people in this manner.

How to Avoid:
-Only have level 60 characters in real guilds make items for you. They have too much work in their character to risk being kicked out of a guild because of running scams.

The Auction House Price Hike Scam
These scammers have patience and rely on their victims making a simple mistake when purchasing items from the auction house. The scam usually involves putting a commonly used up item in the AH for a decent bid price but with a outrageous gold buyout price. The scammer usually makes sure the auction appears either at the top of the item list or in the middle of a group of properly priced items. Then they sit back and hope that someone buying a large amount of the commonly used items won't be paying attention and accidentally buy their outrageously priced item.

My Experience:
This scam is always in existence. Just look up the commonly used potions, cloth, and crafting materials in the auction house.

How to Avoid:
-Don't buy things from the Auction House late at night when you're tired.

The C.O.D Scam
The scammer will mail an item to a player and make sure its wrapped up so it can't be identified and request that the player pay for it. There are some variations of the scam which can be more tempting then others.

One method is when they pretend that they mistakenly sent an item to you instead of a fellow guildmember. Usually in the email they claimed the wrapped package is a crafted epic item and they are just requesting the COD as a tip. If the COD price is low enough like 5gp you be suprised how many people would take the item.

Another method I've heard of is including a small amount of gold in the mail message so one might accidentally accept the COD amount in the rush to get the gold.

My Experience:
Never actually had it happened to me but I've seen both screenshots and know of several friends who have received unexpected packages in the mail with COD attached to them.

How to Avoid:
-Don't accept items unless you know the person who sent them.
-If its too good to be true then it probably is. Don't be stupid

The WTB Scam
This scam is more involved then others but seems to trick a lot of people especially when the scammer is making disposable alt characters to do the advertising. Basically the scammer puts a rare but cheap to make item that might be used in a quest up in the auction for a high buyout. Then they log onto an alt and start advertising they want to buy the item for double the price listed in the auction house. The idea is that someone will get greedy and buy their item from the auction house and attempt to sell it to the disposable alt character. Of course the scammer has no attention of buying the item and will refuse to accept any real offers.

My Experience:
Seen it being done a couple of times. The last time was a blacksmith who had listed a moonsteel broadsword for 25gp in the auction house. He then had a series of alts advertise to buy a moonsteel broadsword for 50gp. Eventually one idiot bought the sword then spent the rest of the day trying to track the person down who wanted to buy it.

How to Avoid:
-Never pay more then something is worth in hopes you can sell it at a higher price.
-If its too good to be true then it probably is. Don't be stupid

These scams are sort of old and I believe the majority of them only happen rarely now. However, new ones are developed daily as a lot of people get off on the anonymous nature of the internet. Remember the main advice to avoid being scammed is to be cautious and avoid being tricked by greed. Most won't be sympathetic if you fall for a scam and there are very few punishments for scammers besides reputation loss. As far as I know most GMs will do nothing to retrieve lost property from scams which depend on human error. In fact the only time I've heard of them banning a scammer was when someone was mass mailing people with the COD scam. Apparently it was mainly because they use a bot to do it with and not that they were actually sending out the packages.


Saylah said...

I got hit once the AH price scam. I was buying up leather late at night one stack was priced at 99g instead of 99s. I was pissed at myself and the person.

I noted their name then proceeded to warn ppl in general chat, my guild and post on the guild forums so others would be more careful. Since then - months ago now, this scam has increased greatly on our server. I see it often. The scam seems glaring to me now. Sucks that I got caught that one time, when now it seems so obvious.

As you said, just watch what you're doing. Read the fine print, aka buy-out price and dont rush when you're tire.

Saylah said...

Completely off topic, I love the new colors.

Relmstein said...

Thanks I found a new template I liked on blogger and switched to it.

I've been caught by the crafter scam once when I was just starting out and didn't know that guildless level 30 characters weren't the best guys to trust.

Andrea said...

I got hit by the Runaway Crafter Scam, in a pretty bad way. I shelved over the mats for the +9 int enchant, 12 Greater Eternal Essences and 2 Large Brilliant Shards. The guy ran off, claiming he forgot his enchanting rod, handily passed by a mailbox, then logged off and actually deleted the character (a level 60 warrior). I should have been more careful when I saw him, naked but for his guild tabard, but I thought he was just messing around.

In any case, I wrote a ticket to the GMs, and by the next morning, they had restored all my mats to me. Now I am only ever doing business with guild crafters or those from reknowned guilds.

Anonymous said...

Method to avoid buyouts of 99g.

Buy volume goods with an alt that only carries 30 of 40 gold. I keep some gold in the mailbox if i need to top up. Works as you cant pay the BO price so mistake prevented.

Another another scam.
20 Runecloth Evilseller 1.80
20 Runecloth Evilseller 1.80
2 Runecloth Evilseller 1.80
20 Runecloth Evilseller 1.80
20 Runecloth Evilseller 1.80

Did you spot it

Anonymous said...

I actively fight against the 99g scams by bidding on them. Bid slightly above legit auctions, preferably above 1g, and others are less likely to be sucked in. Almost invariably the scammers cancel their auctions rather than letting you win, and they lose more money that way (deposit plus and 5% cut of final bid).

One way to avoid being tricked is to install Auctioneer, which allows sort by total buyout/buyout per item as well as the standard sort by total bid. You need to scan the auction house first, but that's time well spent if you're buying in bulk anyway.

Anonymous said...

I am a scammer...there said it out in open.So now u ask y? Well Imade to date 13,210g just off scams.And now Im retiring, well in reality Imtired of wow. Anyway to help all you potential victims here is a scam that got me most of my gold ...... I make two alt lv 1 characters. take them both to a cit y,ex in this case SW. Make them have almost identical names by just a letter off.Then I make one alt end the other and letter for a made up code say like this CtrG6hTYand send it to the other alt. Then the alt that receives this letter makes a copy and starts hawing on the chat screen that I am seeling a code for a turtle mount that you can buy in BootBay for anywhere from 100-150 gold. Sooner or later a lv 70 noob takes the bait and trades with me. I smooth talk him and tell him that when he trades the money for the code ( worhtless gibberish in reality) I will give him my mains name. ( However the night before I research a lv 70 and give that name to him provided that real lv 70 is not online at the momnet) They usually trade with me after I say this . As soon as they do I go to a mail box send the letter to my first alt and then log off and delete the alt I was just using. Then i take the gold now in the hands of the first alt and send it to my main. I then delete that alt. I go to my main and waste about 4-7g on anything and then logoff.I come back online about 10-13 hours later and i continue to play on. Blizzard can trace me and my balance of gold does not macth my alts gold amouth that they sent me. This scam takes time to work out but it invovles the scammer to plead with the victim to trust and to belive in his/her tale of being scammed themselves.

Anyway that was one of the many classic scams out there. Now enjoy wow I dont care if you hate me but hey at least I am gving you a warning. Enjoy wow !_!

Anonymous said...

best way to avoid a scam is to know it urself here is a forum that tells ppl how to scam

use the info here to avoid scams and not do them.

David Chesworth said...

I hope you don't mind but i've copied this onto our guild forum pages as help for some of the new players.
I've included a source link to credit you :)

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Anonymous said...

That scam about the turtle mount....My mate done it once but rather than spending the 5-7g on worthless items he used a GuildBank from his atl to his main..Btw the codes people are selling have A;WAYS been used so never buy then...and if u chose to buy them make sure that the code has 12 digis and make sure that U get the code first before playing ANY cash to the seller