Tuesday, 20 December 2011
The Scoop on Scams
I'm sorry I haven't posted in such a long time. I've been trying to get them out there at least once a week or more to keep the blog active, but with the holiday fast approaching, I haven't had much time to spare. My sister's home from college, the whole house is decorated to the nines; this season just gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. But really, let's be honest here--not even my favorite holiday tunes on the radio can make my heart glow like hearing about a good scam.
I hope you all know me enough by now to realize that I'm being a kidder. They have the tendency to ruin my good mood rather than add to the joy. After all, this is the season of giving, not the season of taking.
Since some of you will be unwrapping shiny new Stardoll gift cards this year, I'd like to pass on the knowledge I've acquired about scammers from playing for multiple years. Without further introduction, here we go.
Being active users on Stardoll, you've all probably heard something about scams.
Well, let's be honest--we've all had our ears talked off about this sort of stuff.
When is the last time we actually listened, though?
Any knowledge you have about scams and the slimy scammers performing their shenanigans is power. Knowing who the scammers are and how they scam is the difference between keeping your hard-earned stardollars or being cheated out of them. In this post, I plan to give you some real insight on how scammers scam from my own observations. What to look out for, when to say no, and how to know if someone's safe or phony. Read on if you're interested in being taught a few things you may not have noticed about these tricky scammers.
1. Rules are made NOT to be ignored.
The Stardoll ruless were created for a reason; to protect us Stardollians from the scheming ways of scammers. Even though Stardoll had much to gain from limiting the ways for rare collectors to make money, therefore increasing stardollar sales, the rules are all effective in protecting users. If you don't trade, buy anything for over 500 stardollars, or buy/sell/trade accounts, you're pretty much in the clear as far as scams go. While this is 'no fun' and breaking these rules from time to time can enhance the user experience, Stardoll is not liable for anything you lose outside of the rules. Scammers thrive off of us girls and guys breaking those rules to get our rare kick or new account. If you already have everything you want on Stardoll, it may be a good idea to say 'no' the next time someone approaches you with buying/selling/trading of goods in mind.
2. Follow your instincts.
Say someone sends you a Guestbook message. It seems innocent enough; they want to sell some of the MKA RC in their main room. Since you're interested in just about every rare and have some stardollars burning a hole in your pocket, you click on their suite. You're enticed by the racks and racks of MKA RC and are dying to place a bid. It seems strange to you that this user has never been introduced to you by your big circle of rare-collecting friends; you dismiss it because it's easy to get lost among the hundreds of millions of users.
The next day, this person replies to your Guestbook message. You've won! You thought you were giving a low-ball offer that this person wasn't going to accept, but since it's such a great deal, you can't stand to rescind your offer. The girl tells you to add her so you can chat about the particulars of the deal in private. You oblige and begin to engage in some idle chit-chat. She seems nice enough and you are happy to buy her rares until...
She drops the bomb. She wants YOU to go first.
Now, this doesn't seem like such an unreasonable request at first. Her MKA RC is VERY rare, and she wouldn't want it to be stolen. If you don't stop to think about it, agreeing to go first doesn't sound like a bad idea. If you add all the facts up, this deal has all the ingredients for a scam. This scam would be absolutely preventable.
So, my dear readers, what would you do?
A. Place your confidence in an anonymous user.
B. Say 'no thanks' and don't risk your money.
If you heeded all the warning signs I threw out, your answer would be B, without a shadow of doubt.
Why? Well, let me break it down.
A. Too good to be true. The offer you placed was low, very low; too low to be taken by any other serious collector. Seeing as this girl has probably been on Stardoll for a long time, she should know she could get MUCH more for her items. This is a sign that she could've scammed the items. If the user you're dealing with has been on Stardoll for a short amount of time and has a lot of rares, that can also be a red flag.
B. Slow down. This all seemed to happen really quickly; day one, you put in an offer. Day two, she accepts the offer. She gets right down to business and doesn't waste a second, even when breaking the news to you that she wants you to go first. You didn't have time to check references, and she didn't have the time to take other bids. Any other rare collector would want to be sure they were getting the best offer; why was she so eager to get rid of them at such a low cost? She could be desperate to sell, or she could be looking to scam an innocent Stardoll user. Scammers never give their victims time to 'sleep on it'. Always suggest you take that time to mull over the terms of the deal and research the character of this person.
C. References, please? She didn't mention anything about her references when she prodded you to go first. Seems a little strange, huh? Any reputable rare collector would be boasting about their references to prove they're safe and give you peace of mind. This girl left you with a bad taste in your mouth as you logged off; she didn't even tell you if she had references. Considering you have so many that can be checked with the users who gave them, shouldn't SHE be the one placing her confidence in YOU? Never trust that a user is safe without proof; no one in the real world trusts someone's opinion or character so naively without evidence to support it, so you shouldn't do it online.
Always be careful, cautious, and a little wary when doing this type of deal or any deal.
The key words?
Follow. Your. Instincts.
3. Free presentation/makeover/suite design? Puh-lease.
The tell-tale sign of a scammer is anything involving a service where they have to access your account with the word 'free' in front of it. They're not looking for something to do or trying to acquire a knack for design, 99.9% of the time, they want your account.
Sometimes, there will be multiple accounts involved in the delicate process of gaining access to naive users' accounts.
Here is a presentation from a Stardoll user claiming to have gotten a hack-free presentation from a 'JessicaMauboy8'.
'She doesn't hack because she did this for me.'
There is no evidence that JessicaMauboy8 and this girl aren't the same people.
It's fairly easy to create two accounts or even buy another completely different one, and it's even easier to make an account superstar.
Here's JessicaMauboy8 refusing to do presentations for a non-superstar.
And another one:
Of course, she was more than willing to give laylajade (the girl who referred everyone to JessicaMauboy8; she took the message down) and her superstar friend, as shown in these pictures.
While it's undetermined whether or not this girl would do what she claims she will once she has hold of your password, I wouldn't want to risk my account finding out.
When anyone approaches you asking for your password, even if they're a friend, the best thing to do is 'just say no'.
4. The scare tactic.
Scammers take advantage of weaknesses; one of those soft spots for a child is a threat. Most of us are from the 9-18 crowd; while the older we get, the more street smarts we have, threats can still give us some cold-sweat-filled nightmares at night.
If a scammer resorts to 'the scare tactic' to get your password, block them immediately. They can't do anything to you through the computer screen, even if they tell you they can. The worst they can do to you is steal your account, which is exactly what they're going to do if you fall victim to their meaningless barrage of threats.
5. Avoid sticky situations.
Many trades on Stardoll can get messy; trading accounts & trading rares are among the easiest ways to get double the goods without giving anything in return. The person who goes first runs the risk of losing the most in a rare trade, whereas anyone can be a scammer in disguise when trading accounts; you take a big chance when putting confidence in a user to make good on their promises. Saying 'no' to trades until you have dealt with the person safely a few times is a wise choice. Saying 'no' to buying/trading accounts is always a smart choice, but if you MUST have that extra 1,200 starpoints, keep it in your circle of safe-trading friends.
I hope these tips can help you stay safe on the streets of Stardoll this holiday season. Happy wheelin' and dealin'!
Until next time,