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.

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