Tobold's Blog
Monday, July 16, 2007
 
Avoiding gold seller scams

A reader wrote me that he got scammed by a gold-selling website and asked me to warn people about them. But as any publicity is good publicity I don't want to mention that site's name or link to it. Instead I thought I post this useful guide on how to avoid being scammed by fake gold farmers.

One major reason why MMORPG companies are against RMT, the selling of virtual items or gold for real currency, is that there are so many scammers around. Then the scammed customer is often calling the game company, which uses up valuable customer service time. One call to customer service causes more cost than the customer brought in as profit for the month. SOE cited this as reason for introducing the safe trading platform Station Exchange. And normally the game company is totally unable to help you against a scammer anyway. So what else can you do?

Well, I kind of have to mention it, although it sounds like the pope's recipe for birth control: If you don't buy gold, you are totally safe from being scammed. But just like pre-maritial sex, buying gold is sometimes too tempting, and then the abstinence advice doesn't help much.

The easiest way to avoid being scammed is not dealing with people you never heard of. Just because you got a website's address from in-game spam or by searching in Google doesn't mean the company is legit. Farming gold might be easy, but simply taking your money without the farming and delivering is often even easier. And with the company often sitting in China, your options for litigation are often limited to non-existing. So if you must buy gold, buy it from people who have a reputation to lose, the biggest gold sellers in the business. Just type the name of the company you want to buy from into Google, and if you find several blog articles stating that this company is the devil and should burn in hell for selling gold, you're at the right address.

The other big advice is to pay gold sellers preferably via Paypal, or with a credit card, not by any other way. So if the company never delivers, you can go to Paypal or your credit card company and dispute the charge. Then you get your money back, and it is up to the Chinese company to prove they delivered, which they will be as unable to do as you were to prove that they didn't. Now, if an evil plan begins to form in your mind, don't do it. Defrauding gold sellers is bad for your karma, and you never know wheather it doesn't land you into trouble with your credit rating or the authorities after all.
Comments:
I posted something along these lines back in May, but more how to avoid getting scammed when selling your MMORPG account.

The same principle holds true, though. If you're buying virtual gold, insist on Paypal. If the gold seller refuses to use Paypal don't buy their gold. If there's no proof of delivery (and burden of proof is always on the Seller) Paypal will always back the Buyer and refund their money.
 
But by buying gold, aren't you basically supporting those pricks that deploy the keyloggers and steal people's accounts?

That's why they do that, right? To make (steal) gold to sell.
 
It's funny. This seems more like a guide on how to buy gold to me.
 
Also, you might want to check the comments , feedback or complaints that users left for the company by searching in google, Bizrate or our website, www.mmobux.com. Keep in mind that some comments may not genuinely from come the users.
 
Paypal isn't as easy to get your money back as you make it sound. The sellers can manipulate the system, claiming it is a virtual item. They can also file with a collection agency, which is another headache that you don't want to deal with. Collections companies make money by recovering funds for their clients (the sellers), so it's in their interest to ding your credit, and guess what, that same argument that "there's no proof of the transaction" works against you here as well. You went to a website (and you read all the disclaimers there, right?) and sent the sellers money. It's not worth the potential problems that you'd have to deal with to buy gold.
 
You're telling cheating f***s how to buy gold and stay in the game? Please don't.

I'd MUCH prefer to have everyone who buys WoW gold drown in cat pee.

Seriously: Shut up. PLEASE. Let those cheating freaks get scammed. And PLEASE stop advising people to use the very company that annoys the HELL out of 90% of WoW players with their omnipresent SPAMs.
 
A number of my friends have been hacked in the last few months, and had all their characters' items and gold stolen.
I would ask anyone who is thinking of buying gold not to do so.
Gold sellers aren't just annoying bots you see in the game, they are thieves.
 
A recent MMO magazine ran an article about a company that tried to be a legitimate Gold Selling company, as opposed to the dishonest "Chinese Gold Farmers". They allegedly met with disaster when one of their biggest customers turned out to be one of their competitors. Because payment was via Paypal the "buyer" was able to dispute the transactions after receiving the gold and they apparently got all their money back. The legit company lost real cash and was out of virtual inventory and had to close down.

It was an interesting article on just how cut throat the business world can be, and should serve as a warning to almost anyone planning to buy gold.

On a side note, despite how my earlier comment may sound, I have not bought gold and never will. For me it would destroy the game much as my finding an infinite money cheat destroyed The Sims. I farm for my Gold or play the Auction House and it makes getting my latest "in-game shiny" that much more of an accomplishment.
 
Mandrel is correct.
Paypal will not refund your money when you have purchased a "virtual" item.
And don't go crying to the BBB. They are not a government agency like some people believe. They are funded by companies who become "members" and pay dues. You can have dozens of complaints filed against you, and they will still give you a Satisfactory rating to keep your business.
Other people can not read your complaint, so it is a waste of time to seek any type of help from them.
 
Buying or selling gold in a game that has forbidden in via rules spelled out in the EULA or some such is simply cheating.

Since the buyer is cheating, then who cares if they get cheated too?
 
Actually to clear something up:

Paypal does NOT guarantee coverage on virtual items.

Dig through the terms of service, you'll find it there. I got scammed and they told me tough, pointed to the virtual goods section in the TOS.
 
Companies should be forced to update their EULA's imo.

Somewhere they need to point out that ingame virtual items do not have a real life dollar value, but items ingame do have a real life cost which can be measured by the effort and time involved.

This would close up the legal loopholes a little better as companies operate under shady terms specially when their main income is fueled by people breaking EULA's (=possible ban) to purchase from them.
 
Many years ago when I was an avid UO player I got ripped off on an Ebay sale. I paid $25US for 100 MIB's (message in a bottle). I paid via paypal/mastercard and met the seller in-game. He admitted to me that he didn't have the goods but might in a couple weeks. *sigh*. He wouldn't give my money back. I disputed the sale to mastercard and they sent me a 3-page form to fill out. Three months later, seller won't talk to me and mastercard is still 'processing' my claim.

I got fed up with mastercard and phoned them to cancel my credit card with them and gave them my visa number to transfer the outstanding balance to. THAT got their attention and they reversed the charge 3 days later.

Long story short. It can be quite difficult to get a credit card company to reverse a charge, even if you have been blatantly ripped off.
 
I no longer support buying gold for the very reason you've written about - the market has gotten WAY too lawless.

I really don't think it was this bad back in 2005, it seems like in the last year the gold farming companies have been getting more and more scammy. I read constantly posts by people who scam the farmers as well. It seems like an extremely shitty business to be in right now.

As much as I would like to buy a little gold here and there (again, more money than time), I simply refuse to at this point. The potential for getting scammed (even by "trusty" (bigger) companies os almost absolute.

The term "honest RMT (real-money trader)" has become an oxymoron? At this point in MMORPG history, I would say so. And it's kinda sad, because I think it has to a lot with the Industry's (exception Sony) attitude toward the RMTs.
 
For a quick video on how to kill a gold spammer, check out http://www.voodex.com/show.php?type=GoldArticle&id=561.

You won't regret it :-)
 
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