Greedy Goblin

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Character bazaar "not" scam

The character bazaar is a developer-sanctioned character trading in EVE. The rules explicitly ban any kind of scam, GMs are reverting them. But of course EVE players being EVE players, a scam was figured out that can slip under the radar.

A few month ago I sold some pilots, took the unsold back to training and now I decided to put this one to the bazaar.

And I was lucky: after a few unavoidable forum trolls, a buyer appeared with an acceptable buyout offer:

Due to the short timeframe, I logged in, got 2 PLEX-es for the transfer, sent the buyer a mail with some details and waited for him to appear. And the mail icon flashed:

I was wondering how could he find one for 5B cheaper in an hour when I carefully checked the bazaar for similar pilots?! But I couldn't finish thinking because I was convoed, obviously by his alt. Since I was scammed just 6 hours before, I angrily closed the convo on him when I realized the scam, so no screenshot, just a log from the saved logs:
[ 2014.02.22 13:15:54 ] Toko Alabel > hi
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:16 ] Mira deVorsha > Hello, Is your toon still for sale?
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:19 ] Toko Alabel > yes
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:26 ] Toko Alabel > How much do you offer?
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:26 ] Mira deVorsha > How much are you looking for?
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:37 ] Mira deVorsha > I never offer :-)
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:38 ] Toko Alabel > I had a 18B BO offer
[ 2014.02.22 13:16:52 ] Mira deVorsha > Its not worth anywere near 18,bil.

I reported him for scamming but I doubt if he gets banned, since it would be hard to prove that he never meant his offer and even if he is banned, it's probably just trial account.

How does the scam work?
The quick sale makes you happy. You got a good offer and got it fast. You are seeing the money coming in. You are imagining spending it while waiting for him (note the short timeframe). For example I decided to go nuts with the money and throw a party for Fatal Ascencion and Get of my Lawn with Marmite.

Then bang! Disappointed. Also, you got "reliable" information that it's easy to find a much cheaper pilot. While you are wondering if you overpriced, comes the savior of the day: an unexpected buyer, who allows closing the deal and get away with more than just annoyance. All you have to do is accept his lowballing offer.

Fate is whimsical. If I hadn't fell for a clicky-scam the same day, I might accept a low price and even if not, I surely wouldn't recognize the coincidence between the rejection and the lowball offer, thinking that it's just one of those trolls who offer much less than the minimal price. So the previous scam post made this scam post.

Watch out for this new scam!

Lemmings update: we are now having ship replacement program up to cruisers! You lost something small? Here, take a replacement!
Our spies captured a footage of Professor Clio leading the scammed newbies into battle against Lemmings.


Professor Clio said...

Good thing you're providing ship replacements for lemmings, they'll need it:

Petri Petrified said...

Yeah, given that Alts are cheap as dirt it is easy to create these kinds of scams. It actually can span more than 24 hours as well: You get an offer, they recind the offer, no new offers come in that day, and then someone new offers at a lower price than the first.

It is not always the case, but given the brevity of time you saw between the offer, rejection, and 'new hope' offer, it smells more than fishy.

Never assume the deal is done and never announce the auction as final until you get the ISK. That way people looking at the Character Bazaar keep an interest in your character.

Lucas Kell said...

That's not really a scam. That's providing misinformation at most. Just like it wouldn't be a scam if you pushed our bids up by bidding on an alt. It's only a scam if either party is forced into a circumstance they didn't and wouldn't agree to. For example, if someone posted with 10 alts "yeah it's only worth a billion", so eventually you sold it to another of their chars for a billion, that's just you making an error in judgement, not a scam. The "no character scams" rules is there to protect people from having their characters or isk stolen, since that would put CCP in a tricky situation as money has been directly transferred to them for that service. If the service was prone to scams and they just said "tough luck", they'd be legally vulnerable. The rule is not there so that when you get your hopes up and don't make a sale, you can punish the other player.

Gevlon said...

@Professor Clio: do you have SRP? Or did your masters left you to fend for yourself?

That 348M/year limit that your scammed newbies can afford to lose ships will expire fast.

By the way I found the video where you are inspiring RvB newbies to fight Lemmings and Marmites:

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: if it's not a scam, then the whole bazaar is useless, as you can't agree about the price, as someone can always bid and back off.

Lucas Kell said...

"if it's not a scam, then the whole bazaar is useless, as you can't agree about the price, as someone can always bid and back off."
That's just trading. People can back out of a trade any point right up to the point that the isk is exchanged. The character bazaar is no different in that regard. It's not considered an actual transaction until either isk or the character changes hands. The bazaar works fine with this.

And what would be the alternative? Every time someone bids they can't back out or they get banned? There's hundreds of reasons a bidder could putt out of a trade both in game and out of game. The way it is, it does it's job, and you've made trades on there so you can attest to this yourself. Just don't get excited about a trade until the isk is exchanged.

Gevlon said...

The problem is fake overbids. The overbid real client leaves, believing that he was overbid and never come back. This way you can sabotage any character trade.

Lucas Kell said...

"The problem is fake overbids. The overbid real client leaves, believing that he was overbid and never come back. This way you can sabotage any character trade."
And still not a scam.

Importantly though, how would you solve it? What type of system could they implement to stop a "fake" bid going through that wouldn't also trap people who have legitimate reasons for not going ahead with the trade?

The way it works now, after you've dealt with that bidder and confirmed they don't want the purchase, you simply bump your thread with "still available" and it's back on the market. Most people looking for a character and interested in yours will either send you a mail/post in the thread anyway or watch the thread to see if the sale folds so they can make a bid, so you won't have lost any business.

Basil said...

Fake bids are indeed an unfair dealing method, but not disallowed by the system. A scam is something that goes around limitations put on the system, in most books.

Is there any way you could use this same lack of rules to your advantage as a seller? I assume you're not allowed to back out of a sale offer? If not, you simply have to act in such a way that a prospective buyer backing out at any time wouldn't cost you money.

Anonymous said...

Yes RvB has SRP, contact Northern Misfit, she'll hook you right up!

Gevlon said...

@Lucas: can you back off a market window buy if you figure out that the same stuff is cheaper in Dodixie?

The proper character sale system would be using in-game contracts.

Anonymous said...

Gevlon, I've already demonstrated that your math is wrong about lost per player - or at the least, very misleading.

As far as the scam, I'm not sure if it's a scam or simply very shady marketing. Definitely not 100% above board though.


Arrendis said...

"can you back off a market window buy if you figure out that the same stuff is cheaper in Dodixie?"

Until the moment you push the button that transfers your isk, you can, yes.

Gevlon said...

@Arrendis: but your options are "pressing the button" and "not pressing the button". There is no "hold up the sale for everyone else" option.

These people are practically margin trading scamming. They set a buy order that can't be fulfilled.

Anonymous said...

They are doing nothing even similar to margin trade scamming.

You want to buy my house, and put in an offer, right up until the moment the documents are exchanged, you can go "sorry, got a better deal".

I am then annoyed, and if someone else then tries to buy it from me, I still have the choice to take it or leave it. I have lost no money, I have not been scammed.

As the 2nd character is a 2005 CEO of the corp, do you not find it equally likely that the CEO heard of him dropping out of the sale, and decided to try get the character?

Unless you think that entire corp is his alts, but strangely, people do talk to each other in Eve.

Jean-Mira said...

'You want to buy my house, and put in an offer, right up until the moment the documents are exchanged, you can go "sorry, got a better deal".'

In Germany, if you do this to help yourself or a third person to get a better deal, it's considered a felony, something like fraud.

Goblin is right. It is a scam. Just a hard to proof one.

Btw, regarding the market order comparison... it probably is better represented by the contract system with auctions. AFAIK, you can't cancel bids there.

Gevlon said...

Hey, my pilot just got a new owner! For 20B. Considering I was ready to sell for 15B, I think I have no reason to dislike yesterday's scammer.

Thanks to him, I earned 5B and 2 good posts for 4.1B.

Gevlon said...

Since I earned lot of money, it's time for party! The party service "Marmite Collective" already sent out the invitation to Fatal Ascencion. They were so lonely.

Anonymous said...

'You want to buy my house, and put in an offer, right up until the moment the documents are exchanged, you can go "sorry, got a better deal".'

Um... not in the USA. Or rather -- you can, but the real estate industry has figured out how to mitigate risk on both sides via legal documents and escrow.

You start with an one page offer letter with a token amount (say $1000) that goes into escrow. Then you move to a P&S, a complex multipage contract negotiated by lawyers, which is again backed by escrow. Usually, this is 10% of the final sale price.

The P&S lays out under what circumstances either party can back out of the contract prior to the actual closing, and under which cases the 10% deposit is forfeited or returned.

Anonymous said...

Not a scam, I do this all the time, it's fantastic isk per hour. Character bazaar transactions aren't binding until the character is sent for the agreed price, as long as isk is refunded you can back out as a seller after agreeing etc. Nothing written on the forums or in game is binding, the only thing you can't do is keep isk sent for a transfer without transferring. The bazaar is a wild west and I love it that way.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe all events were constructed by Gevlon as an elaborate scam to sell the character at +5B ISK. Transactions are not final they used to say. We will never know who scammed who or if no scam was involved at all.

Anti said...

i wonder if you could auction contract 1 trit with your min buyout and a link to the character bazzar thread. I think it would simplify the auction process and as all character transactions are CCP endorsed the buyer is protected.

then any prospective buyers have to put their money where their mouth is before you go to the effort of logging in to transfer the Character. fake bidders are excluded but I'm not sure how the auction contract handles fees and bid escrow.