Innocence abroad

Harbinger Zero asked me to post my humiliation for all to see, so here it is.

This is how I got scammed in Jita, in EVE Online, a couple of days ago.


The Setting

Non-EVErs should know that Jita is the Ironforge of the EVE universe — it’s permanently packed (1300+ people when I was there) and it’s permanently full of sales spam, smack talk, and of course scammers.

It’s actually a pretty short story, and one I should have known better than to fall for, both as a reasonably smart individual and as a 10+ year (argh!) MMO player.


The Scam

Some player, let’s call them LadyMolo to avoid giving them publicity but still remain relatively true to the name, was claiming to be leaving the game for RL reasons and therefore wanted to give her money away.  If you come from a more recent MMO generation you might instantly think “Ohh right, one of those scams. What a crock!” But back in the day of walking uphill barefoot both ways in the snow to get our levels, people who left games often did give away their virtual-worldly goods. I’ve done it myself a time or two.

Anyway, LadyMolo kept spamming chat with “I”m leaving blah blah blah, send me X amount and I’ll send you back three times as much!” And here’s the kicker to rope in suckers like me: “Send a small amount first to test me!”

I was only in Jita to pick up some goods I could sell back home in Verge Vendor for twice the price, and I wanted to get in, get my shit, and get out again as fast as possible. I don’t like crowds much in RL and I don’t like crowds in virtual space either. (People either get that or they don’t. It bugs the hell out of me when someone stands in my face in an MMO, and I’ve had long debates with friends and acquaintances who just don’t get the concept of personal space when it’s virtual space. Maybe it’s a female thing. /end digression) Text that scrolls so fast you can barely read it — though 99.99% of it isn’t worth reading anyway — is a pain in the backside. And, generally, swimming in a tiny pool full of carnivorous fish ready to blast you just because they don’t like the cut of your jib — so not my thing.

Even so, in the short time it took me from entering the system to docking at the station with the goods I wanted, I saw enough of the scam to be intrigued. I checked my personal wallet and thought, Hrm, I could make a few million extra profit here!

Dollar signs went cha-ching in my eyes. I sent the person 2 million ISK (which is barely enough to get a cup of coffee at EVE-Starbucks these days).

A few seconds later, I get 6 million back. And that of course is how the suckers are hooked and landed.

Fortunately, gullible though I may be, I’m not entirely idiotic. I just sent back the 6 mill I’d got. And waited. And waited. And waited — along with an increasingly vocal group of other marks. A few minutes later LadyMolo logged off, never to be seen again.



The Mark

Being scammed isn’t humiliating — but standing up for the scammer certainly is. And I did. I bought not only the scam but the story, and defended the scammer to others. Aieee.

But while my MMO persona is humiliated and vowing never to fall for anything ever again, my RL persona doesn’t really mind. For one thing, I didn’t “invest” (positive spin, see?) anything I couldn’t afford to lose. Sure, Ysharros’ personal wallet is pretty flat now but you can pretty much spit and make a couple of mill in EVE even without combat, so it’s not such a big deal.

If anything — like with the almost-got-killed incident — I’m amused at my own perpetual gullibility and at the cleverness of the scam. It was just believable enough for some of us to get conned. It was the usual “put in a little, get out a lot, do it  again sucker!” con that anyone who’s been following financial news in the last couple of decades will be aware of — myself included. But reading about a scam and thinking how you’d never get taken in, and being the mark of a scam are two entirely different things.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said before, I don’t mind being gullible. Being cynical is only a veneer for me, and if I were a cynical old cow to the core I’d probably be unhappier. Miserable and rich isn’t something I particularly aspire to, in games or in life.


Lessons learned

1. I still hate Jita. I’d only been there once in my previous EVE stints, and I don’t intend to go back if I can possibly help it. For the record, I loathed Ironforge too.

2. Never invest what you can’t afford to lose. EVE and other PvP games are pretty much all about those rules if you don’t want to get horribly burned and be scarred forever more. I didn’t hand over much, I didn’t get taken for more than I initially handed over, so it wasn’t too painful or costly a lesson. (A few marks sent over 100-200 million ISK — to me that’s a ginormous fortune, though I know people regularly deal with billions in EVE these days, probably including the not-nearly-so-gullible Stabs.)

3. Quit while you’re ahead. This is why I don’t gamble.


Sountrack: It’s yer money I’m after baby — The Wonder Stuff. (NME will even let you see a video… provided you’re not in the US.)

* Yes, I know I’m misquoting my title. See what I did thar?

20 thoughts on “Innocence abroad

  1. Sadly enough that scam is *ancient* and the more you visit Jita, the more you see it. Every day someone proclaims the same thing in channels, though I’ve only been to Jita a handful of times myself to sell blueprints on the market.

    You’re completely right about the ‘don’t spend what you don’t want to lose’ aspect of the game. Be it ships, cash, or something else.

    Loving your EVE posts by the way. 🙂

  2. Just think, if you left with the 6 million it would have been a nice profit 🙂 At least you only lost 2 million really, since the other 4 was theirs.

    1. Yeah, hence rule #3 — I was up 4 mill. That would have been nice! Sadly it was probably someone else’s 4 mill. 😛

  3. You have fallen for one of the oldest and most obvious tricks ever. 🙁
    I mean even if you have never ever heard of scamming techniques,

    *** that was too obvious. ***

    You even could have made 1 million, by sending only 3 million back. xD

    GREED was your downfall. Avaritia (avarice/greed) is one of the seven deadly sins!
    But do not worry, LadyMolo will also burn in hell! Maybe you get a chance to throw a hot poker at him/her there.

    1. When I was 11 some self-righteous little byatch-punk told me I was on the highway to hell. Not long after, she dislocated her finger playing some schoolyard game.

      Just sayin’. /Omen music

      1. dammit! If I now crash my car, you know where I will be waiting for ya, sinner! 🙂

  4. I can’t relate to the EVE story – though you were smart enough to escape with minimal losses, so cheers! – but a hearty hear! hear! on the virtual personal space issue.

    I’ve been “griefed” before in an MMO by having several characters “surround” my female avatar while I was backed up against the wall, saying sexually suggestive things. Could I easily have run through them, since there is no collision detection in said game? Certainly. Did it make me uncomfortable, a little “too close to real life?” Definitely.

    1. Aye — most of the people I know who don’t think it’s a big deal tend to be male. Most of the women I know have at least one example of being encroached on by someone, usually followed by some sort of inappropriate comment. I don’t care how “innocent” it is, it’s inappropriate; it would be inappropriate at a bus stop and it’s the same in a game.

      What we really need is for guys to get casually harassed throughout their lives and maybe they’ll start getting it. It’s not any single event that’s necessarily a problem — it’s that it happens all the time and that some guys feel they have the right to intrude on you just because they find you appealing.

      Sadly one is usually either preaching to the choir or to an empty audience on this subject. 😛

  5. Dear Sir

    As a matter of urgency, I need your help by making a research and feasibility studies on the areas I can invest on. I am a civil servant in Nigeria and as a rule, I cannot bank or invest huge amount of money here in Nigeria. That is why I thought it wise to invest in a foreign land. You are going to manage everything by yourself and also going to be my partner.

    Presently, my father had deposited 500kg gold dust product with security company in Europe before he died, through a special diplomatic courier service and now in a custody of a security Outfit awaiting claims. As soon as l receive your indication to work with me . l will open wide my mind to give you more detail about my life and how we are going to claim the product.

    Indicate your readiness to help by providing to me your telephone/fax number for easy communication. More details will be forwarded to you soonest.

    Awaiting your immediate response. Note sir, i need some one who is capable to assist me for this claim and we are all going to travel together to Europe for the claim and sell the product , I don’t have enough experience on the system but i want some one that will guide put me through with the current marketing trend, so that we can sell the product and invest the money oversea.

    Best Regards,
    Noreallyyoucantrustme Iamnotascammer

  6. The above is an actual example of a classic Nigerian scam (aka 419 scam), which is basically exactly what they got you with, Ysh. Ah well, thankfully it wasn’t much money.

    I’m completely with you about the personal space thing. I’ve been playing DDO with a couple friends lately, and when I group with one of them, we actually (gasp!) roleplay. Both of us sat down by a rest shrine last night and happened to be pretty close to each other, and we started ragging each other in character about who was there first.

    1. Heh ya I know the Nigerian scam. Like I said on Twitter, when it’s in my mailbox I just roll my eyes and hit delete (though my mother believes that crap every time, and usually wants to give them MY card and account numbers – WTF?). When it’s in a game… I’m much less discerning.

  7. I still tend to haul my stuff to Jita to sell it since I’m based a mere 6 jumps away right now, and if there’s something specific I want it’s rare that I can’t find it in Jita, and I like the convenience.

    FWIW, I never look at local when I’m there. The scam spam is ridiculous.

    1. So, apparently I ate the last of the popcorn, and the ice cream was modly (don’t ask), but I did find some Cheez-Its that weren’t too stale. Reading…

      Wow. Most of the scams I’ve encountered involved fudging numbers or items on contracts. I’ve not had anyone try to scam me in via Local. But then, I’m a Jita Virgin, so maybe that’s it. Well I’m glad you didn’t lose too much, and I’m glad you posted this wisdom for all to learn from.

  8. Also, don’t forget that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Other popular Jita scams:

    a.) Scammers who will only Trade, i.e. won’t put up a Contract.
    b.) Contract says ship/item is Faction XXX, but it’s just a regular XXX.
    c.) “See contracts in my Bio”. When you check bio, there wil be several “legit” contracts for faction items completed by the scammer’s alt, with the above type contract in the mix uncompleted, waiting for a mark.

    Really, right-click + Block is the best way to experience Jita local. Once the scammers are blocked, it’s reduced to legit contract hawkers.

    1. LOL yeah but I kind of strung myself up for that one with an apple in my mouth. 😉 Unlike your hubby’s account — that’s much more serious. Hope it gets resolved!

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