Most Eve Online Scams involve the use of the contract system in some way, but there are other ways to scam as well. The most important thing is to triple check everything, especially when you are trying to sell or buy something face to face. The safest thing is always to make the contract yourself, but always keep an eye out for these popular scams.
Switch ScamThis sort of scam is pretty simple, and it involves confusing the victim into believing that a want-to-sell contract is really a want-to-buy contract. A scammer will spam his want-to-sell contract for a cheap item at a outragous price and spam it in local as a want-to-buy contract. The victim will see a item that they know is worthless and the outragous price. They might try and accept it to sell their item, but only to realize they bought the worthless item at a outragous price. The scammer relies on the greed of their victim, and turns it against them.
- Create a outragously priced want-to-sell contract for a common item.
- Advertise that contract in local as a want-to-buy contract.
- Hope someone tries to "sell" you that item.
Escrow ScamThis is one of the more clever Eve Online Scams. This scam takes advantage of the Margin Trading Skill mechanics. Margin trading allows people able to put up buy orders and only have to put a fraction of the buy order as a down payment. They then quickly transfer the reminder of the isk necessary to cover the order out of their wallets. When another player tries to fill the buy order, then the order is cancelled. The down payment is returned and the player keeps what they were trying to sell.
Eve Online Scammers take advantage of this mechanic. They simply try and create a false market for certian obscure items. The put some up for sale at an outragous price, and then they put multiple (fake) buy orders with a minimum amount restriction (makes you have to sell 5 or more at a time). This creates the allusion that something is really valuable. The final step involves getting people to buy the item that they created a fake market for from them at a highly inflated price. They do this by simply selling 5 or so at a different station or spam a contract they created. This makes the buyer think they can turn a profit, but really they will be stuck with a worthless item.
Courier ScamThis scam has the simple goal of trying to prevent the courier from reaching the intended station and collecting the collatoral. They might try set the destination station deep into low sec, or null sec hoping that you will be unable to reach the station. They might simply cut out the middle man and blow you up themselves as your undocking or in route. Remember to be fly smart, maybe "idle" in a station for a bit, or just use an alt to deliver the package.
- Create a courier contract with a high collatoral.
- Stop the courier by any means necessary.
Freighter Courier ScamThis scam is sorta clever, and it usually involves newer freight pilots. The goal again is to prevent the pilot from completing the contract and collecting the collatoral. The scammer will put up a lot of courier contracts with a bunch of giant frieght containers in the package to bulk up the courier package. The goal is to reach about 960,000m3 in package space. This prevents pilots who did not train frieghter 4 or 5 from fitting it in their cargo hold. A lot of newer freighter pilots might have the attitude that nothing is to big for their ship, and Eve Online Scammers try and take advantage of that attitude.
- Create a courier contract with more then 960,000m3 of cargo.
This scheme is one that plagues the Eve Online forums. People will launch IPOs, Stocks, Bonds, Banks, and other things to try and get you to invest into in them and their idea. There are a few gems out there that are infact not scams, but the vast majority are. They do all sorts of deceptive practices to try and get you to invest into them, the most notable and recent one was Phaser Inc. They knew they would be slaughtered on the forums, and instead of launching there they made a pretty website. They spammed this pretty website and had people invest. They then had more people invest in order to cover the orginal investment. This was a obvious ponzi scheme from the start.
The thing most scams have in common is that they take advantage of peoples kindness and trust. It is only natural that the noble and just pilots of Eve Online use that trust to benefit themselves. They simply find newer corporations with naive CEO's that think everyone should have access to everything, and they quickly give everyone a life lesson not soon forgot. There are many ways to get trust; its all about social engineering. Corporations need to have everything componentized. A pilot who has never used a POS before does not need access to POS fuel, and a miner does not need access to your armory.