Monday, July 6, 2015

Eve 101: Eve Scams

At one point in nearly all of our Eve lives, we’ve be the victim of a scam.  That’s okay; it happens to everyone at least one.  For my part, it was a 1.5 bil margin trading scam that I was ready to drop another 1.5 bil on, if I had it.  Fortunately, when I asked to borrow some isk from someone, he pointed out what was happening and I was able to cut my losses (thanks again, sevyn nine!).

But it happens to everyone.  Scams are everywhere in Eve.  And new players, especially those coming from other games with GMs who actively police and monitor the gameworld, are particularly susceptible to falling for them.

Scam victims fall into two categories, the stupid and the unaware.  The first category… well, there’s not much you can do.  You can bombard them with information about all the different scams they might come across, but if they won’t listen, there’s no way to make them listen.  In the end, we all stand alone with our decisions, and all that.

But the majority of players fall into that second category… the unaware.  Some would call you naïve.  I prefer to think of you as optimistic and good-natured.  Those are good traits in the real world, but not in Eve.  We tell ourselves, “No one would really spend all that time to get my isk… it’s not that much and it’s not worth it to them.  Only, they would.  It’s not paranoia if everyone is, in fact, out to get you.

Recently, a reader of this blog approached me asking if I was able to do anything to expedite a recruitment request he put in, with the appropriate application fee, for Goonswarm Federation.  I explained the nature of this recruitment scam, and tried to encourage him to focus on the positive experiences he had earning his isk, and not the final moment in which he lost it.  How we respond to tragedy defines us.

But I realized that he obviously hadn’t come across exactly how the recruitment scam works during his reading of this blog and many others.  So, I wanted to provide a single source for as many of the anti-scam resources out there that I could find.  I don’t want my readers losing their isk to scammers.

I’d rather they lose it in PvP against me.  Like, seriously.  Please fight me in faction-fit T1 frigates (try to find the Aunenen kill in a Kestel the night of the 3rd)?

A lot of folks have talked about these scams in more depth than I could, and both out of respect for the original writers and my own fingers, here’s a list of resources you should read right now:

The Recruitment Scam

A good example of this scam can be found (as well as some trolling and helpful comments) on this reddit thread.  Essentially, a scammer recruits a member into a corporation, but they can't join the corporation immediately because of ::reasons::.  But, he's willing to arrange - oh so helpfully! - to move all of the recruit's possessions into their null staging system so the recruit can jump right into fleets.  Naturally, the recruit could do this on their own, but that'd be dangerous without the benefit of blue status, right?

Once they have all of their possessions, the scammer quickly absconds with them, generating tears and frustration.

While null corps do often transport goods for each other without collateral, never do this until you're actually in the corp and have access to their intel channels, have spent a little time in the corp, and have access to their forums and jump bridge network.  Don't be in a hurry to move all your things, and never trust anyone who isn't a corpmate.

The Recruitment Deposit

Often paired with the Recruitment Scam, the Recruitment Deposit is a scam targeting those who are eager to join a corporation, and occur during a fake recruitment process.  Members of Goonswarm, in particular, are notorious for this scam, but it's done by members from a wide range of alliances.

During this scam, a person claiming to be a recruiter reels a target in by announcing that the recruit is exactly the sort of person the corporation is looking for, and that they'd love to have them.  The only problem is that the recruit needs to put down a deposit to cover the costs of hauling things around, risking titans, and a range of other explanations.  Once the member gives over the deposit, many versions of the scam end.  But on occasion, the scammer takes the mark for an additional deposit, saying the original was "lost in the system, but when it shows up, the corp will reimburse them".

Avoiding this scam is easy; only talk to recruiters who appear in a corporation's advertisement or corp description.  Goonswarm members are, in fact, forbidden from representing themselves as a recruitment officer falsely.  And corporations usually don't tarnish the reputation of official recruitment officers in order to give legitimate recruits faith in the process.  If a random person with no roles approaches you, be suspicious.

The Margin Trading Scam

Eve has a skill called Margin Trading.  When this skill is fully trained, a character need only put up about 24% of the cost of market buy order.  So, they can put an order in for 1 billion isk, but only have to put 240 million down as collateral to cover the sale.  The purpose of this skill is to allow players to over-leverage themselves with buy orders, with the expectation that all of them won't be fulfilled at once.

Normally, this is okay.  After all, a buy order by itself isn't much of a problem.  If the market trader can't cover it, someone else can.  But the scam involves the other half: a sell order.  In this scam, the scammer establishes both buy and sell orders for the same item.

On the sell side, the seller purchases a rare item, usually an office module, for a market-appropriate price, then re-lists that item for a huge markup.  Let's say he buys two officer shield mods for 300 mil each, then re-sells them as separate orders (one unit for each) for 1.8 billion and 1.81 billion each on Character A.  No one would buy these orders, right?

The trick comes when he establishes a buy order seeing a minimum of two of these modules, for 2.3 billion isk each on Character B.  With the Margin Trading skill, he only needs to put up 1.104 billion isk, which is not enough to cover even one of these buy orders.  He then transfers all remaining isk to another character, leaving the buy order unable to be fulfilled.

When a hapless mark comes by, he sees the two-unit minimum, he sees that there are two units for sale, and he immediately buys them, expecting to sell the two units to the two-unit-minimum buy order.  Only, the order fails to complete because the scammer doesn't have the isk in his account on Character B to cover the purchase.  So, the hapless mark purchases two 300-mil units for a total of 3.6 billion, and instead of making a quick billion isk, he's down 3 billion.

This is a very sneaky scam, because the keys to identifying it are very, very subtle.  Sure, "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is" is a good rule, but that's not always true.  When you see a deal on the market, first ask yourself, "Why is this still open?"  Look at the market history for that item... are the sale prices far, far lower than the buy and sell orders you see?  That's a clear indicator that you're dealing with scammers.  You have to tab over to the market history, and have a healthy dose of cynicism to spot this one.

The Supercap Sale Scam

Being rich is not a cure for foolishness.  The Supercap Sale scam is proof of this.  Because supercaps cannot dock in stations, they cannot be traded or contracted.  They're born in space, they live in space, and they'll die in space.  So, when selling a supercap, you need the old owner to eject from it, the new owner to board it, and for the two parties to leave peacefully.  In this scam, the buyer and seller come to an agreement, the buyer transfers isk, and... nothing.  The seller happily walks off with the isk in hand.  The scammer has to own the supercap, the buyer has to see it, and the transfer has to be on the brink of occurring before the seller decides to simply stay in his ship.

Avoiding this scam is particularly easy, actually.  Never buy a supercap from anyone you don't know personally, or whose good faith can be guaranteed by some other means.  Two of the most popular ways are to either buy only from corp/alliance mates, or to use a third party.  When you use a third party, the seller gives the supercap to a trusted third party like Chribba, who then delivers the supercap upon receiving the isk from the buyer.  The third party gets a cut, then transfers the remainder to the seller.

The third party won't proceed unless the seller actually hands over the super, and he won't deliver the super before receiving the isk.  And the third party has every reason to honor his agreement, since his business depends on successfully and faithfully completing the transaction.

So, always supercap-trade only with a friend with the assistance of a third party.  Don't be that guy.

The Faction Ship Switch

From time to time, you may come across a person wanting to sell you a ship but, for whatever reason, wanting to trade you the ship for isk.  Generally, this person will want to sell you a faction ship.  Once you add the isk to the trade window, the scammer will plop the ship in the window and you will complete the transfer.  Only later do you realize that instead of a Raven Navy Issue, you received a plain Raven.

In a particularly cunning version of this scam, a player will claim he wants to sell a limited-edition ship, like a Chremoas, which has the same icon image as a Dramiel.  Both even have the green circle in the corner marking them as a faction ship.  Because the image looks the same, the buyer things the trade is legitimate, and the seller walks away with billions of isk in profit for the cost of a Dramiel.

The cost of setting up a private contract is 10,000 isk and, guess what?  You can contract fitted ships, too.  There is absolutely no reason for using the trade window with someone you don't know, particularly when you're purchasing a single ship that can easily be traded on the market.

The Isk Doubler

This is an easy one.  No one will actually double your isk.  The people they list as having received isk are names they randomly picked out of local chat.  Don't listen to these people in Jita local, and don't send people any isk you don't want to lose forever.


Have I missed any?  Feel free to mail me or send me a comment and I'll add it to the list.


  1. Tal thanks for the info and it is a tad late for me. ;)

  2. 1. selling an item through the contact, but the price is the item plus isk.

    2. selling a fitted ship via contact, but in fact it is only the modules listed without the hull.

  3. The only scam I fell for so far is handing over a billion isk to an alliance member who was setting up a production line for jump freighters.
    Once he collected about 20 billion from alliance members he emptied every wallet he had access to and left.

  4. A common one involving T3 ships is they place the hull and fittings for the ship up on contract at what looks to be a great price. The scam is that instead of actual subsystems (which are expensive) they have placed the skill books for the subsystems in the contract. At a quick glance the skill books look like subsystems.

  5. Killright Scam: Ship has a Bounty of 111,111 ISK but a Killright value of 111,111,111,111 ISK (for example. These ships fly betweeen Amarr and Jita frequently on autopilot, or just sit on gates begging for someone to activate them. The killright is worth much more than the actual ship value.

    Video example here:

  6. Sell carbon for Charon and spam the contract in local.

  7. Make a contract for Plex for a reasonable price, like 800m, but include also a plex under "also want items from buyer". The buyer gets 1 plex, pays 800m, and gives out 1 plex.

  8. Offer a contract for two plex for 2.3 billion but the contract is actually 2.3 million.

  9. About the only thing I'd change is the bit about being suspicious of people without roles acting as recruiters. I'm in a very small corp. We have no official recruiters and not many of us have roles, but we all act as recruiters.

    I'd change that caution line to: "if anyone asks you for money up-front in order to join, run away."

  10. Offer 3 Faction Frigs for super low price of 1 mill by linking 3 contracts in a row. The first two contracts are already taken, just the third is still open. You quickly grab it just to realize that the price for this last contract wasn't 1 million but 1 billion.