(Editor's note: When CCP's GM team announced a change to the TOS that banned impersonating other players, our first reaction was puzzlement. Why bother making this change? Chris Bailey tells the tale of the scam he ran that may have been the reason for the GM team's sudden beef with impersonation in Eve.)
My name is Chris Bailey. Below is my account of how over a period of a few weeks, I was able to scam and acquire nine supercapitals and two titans, totaling over 400 Billion ISK. The account is drawn out, a bit long, but accounts for my planning, the scams themselves, the repercussions from CCP, and my general thoughts on the recent TOS changes that were retroactively introduced to EVE Online.
Rewind to approximately 8 weeks ago. The weather was still a fair representation of summer in the northern hemisphere, Odyssey 1.1 was still just a glorified dev blog, and most of all, CCP Soundwave was still the Icelandic-living ATX announcer of our collective hopes and dreams. It was around this time that my long term plans to scam something as large as a super capital finally came to fruition in a way that I would have never expected.
It all began when I initially saw Xayder and other Goons scamming via the forums. During those days, I was in Goonswarm doing to usual “Use xxxxx as 3rd Party.” I probably mailed a couple hundred characters over the first few months, but to no avail. Not even a single reply. Towards the end of my limited patience, I got lucky. Odds eventually ended up in my favor and I managed to snag one guy looking for a fit Nyx for 24 Bil. I used my alt as a third party, the scam went smoothly, and I was smug.
This ended up being the exact same method I later used to scam another eight supers and two titans. I would pretend to be both the buyer and the “reputable” third party. To attempt to further push the ruse into getting me an actual transaction, I put my alt in an unsuspecting alliance that was neutral or negative standing to my third party character. I also modified my syntax to sound like two completely different individuals with their own habits. Most of the time, this presented a favorable situation for me.
CREATION OF THE PLAN
For the sake of respect, I will refer to a known player of EVE as “C” for the remainder of the article. This is no real attempt at hiding someone’s name - it will be clear to most - but there is no need to tie him directly to this.
There was one day where I happened to look at the EVE WIki for some information about a certain alliance’s history. One thing led to another, and in similar fashion to my random YouTube excursions, I ended up on the page of the well-known player C. To make things even more interesting, I noticed that – in the true fashion of a wiki – the page was editable. I spent the next few days scouring the forums and content pages for anything that would indicate that false information, or scamming with help of the forums, would lead to a punishable offense. I determined that there were no precedents that I could publicly find, and decided to go to work.
At first, no one was falling for it, and I spent a few weeks tucking my alt character’s name in pages for other known players named “D” and “G”. This would, with any luck, pay off for me down the road.
Fast forward two months. I sent a few mails out to buyers/sellers alike, mainly contacting them through the EVE “Sell Orders” forum. The type of super did not matter, but in each case, the plan was to have my own character be the third party in the transaction. Eventually, one player, acting as a seller of a Nyx, contacted my character after finding the name on C’s wiki article. I accepted his offer to act as a third party, but the buyer did not. In an attempt to keep my hopes alive, I reached out to him on another alt offering a price just above his buyout if he were willing to act quickly to sell me the mothership. We agreed on a time and a place in a less -traveled region of low sec, and less than an hour later, things were looking up. At this point, my two characters were in system: the third party and the supposed buyer. All of sudden, I realize my critical error. The character I listed for third party was actually the only character I currently had that could board a Nyx and jump it out. :sigh:
In a last ditch effort to make this happen, I made a ridiculous request. I, as the buyer, asked to have the third party jump the ship for me. At this point I had figured it was all over, but sure enough, the seller agreed and exited the Nyx. I boarded it on the third party, and cyno’d out. A few minutes and a couple dozen smug chat conversations with friends, and I had the Nyx safe and sound. +25 Billion
This first boost of confidence that my plan was working led to me sending a couple dozen evemails, each offering enticing buyout offers for supers and titans alike. Less than 24 hours later, my next victim took the bait and wanted to buy a travel fit Nyx. Now that I had a Nyx of my own to work with, I could play either side of the trade. He was convinced to use my alt as a third party and lured out to lowsec to complete the transaction. At the same exact time, another individual reached out to me to buy a Nyx as well.
In an attempt to not let this opportunity slip, I spun up a few more alt characters. Clearly not able to have the same Nyx for sale in two places at the same time, I decided to roll the dice. Additional characters that could move to the location of the second transaction were logged in. I convinced the second buyer I was in the middle of another transaction as third party, and would be moving an alt. The two characters were moved, and the trap was set, all while keeping up the ruse with the first Nyx. The second buyer was convinced there was a cloaked Nyx in system and that I had verified and transferred the money, no questions asked. Seconds later, the first transaction also completed. +48 Billion
Up until this point, my forum posts were not under scrutiny. I had not received any serious hate mail, and no one tried to really publicize what was going on. Unfortunately the last victim of my three aforementioned Nyx scams decided to post on every single sale thread on the forums that was made in the past 3 months. Thinking the con was up, I prepared to invest my money in some toys and move on, finally having the ISK I always wanted. To my surprise, hours later a fourth victim wanted to buy an Aeon. I gratefully took his ISK as well. +24 Billion
My first spree all occurred in approximately 36 consecutive hours of gameplay and resulting in four supers, plus an additional Wyvern hull and the ISK for an Aeon. The total was six supers in less than two day’s time.
Things at this point slowed down considerably; the con was officially up. C caught on to what was going on with his the wiki page and had it edited and locked for good. There was a shortage of supers, and no one else looked like they were going to fall for it. I decided to take a break, stopped sending out mails, and just plain forgot about it myself. The two super hulls were sold off using a legitimate third party, and I used the stockpile of ISK to make some much needed purchases.
THE #HAZING PART 2
It was time to take it to the next level. In my eyes, this was only the beginning; there had to be better more lucrative ways to convince other buyers/seller to act in the same way. The wiki proved to be a valuable tool, since it was closely tied to the game but still community driven. Most people overlooked the fact that the pages could be edited by any EVE character/player.
I could no longer edit the wiki page that listed C and all of his alts. Instead, I created my own page from scratch; this was part of my eventual downfall. This time, I created a page and listed existing third parties already known to the community. Each third party had a short description describing their services, and my character was conveniently placed in the middle of the list for all to see. An artificial lock button was copied from Google images and inserted in the top right corner of the page. It gave the impression that the page was not editable, which was entirely false. The most controversial part of the page came last. I knew I could not directly say that I was a CCP-approved third party, because no such thing exists. In an attempt to make it seem as community-oriented as possible, I added this small line to the bottom of the page: “Contact ISD Rex Apollyon if you have valid proof of handling super capitals in the past, Anyone without proof will not added to this list.” It has since been argued that this is against the rules, but I believed at the time that the wording was carefully chosen and did not indicate that any true CCP employee had any part in the third party page. EVE is a community-driven sandbox after all; services offered are created by the players themselves, and a list like this is not unheard of.
After creating the wiki page, I let it sit for a short period of time. A few more mails went out, but no takers. Approximately two weeks after the second wiki page went live, I caught my first big break. The market was pretty tough, and there were only a few Titan and Super hulls available. I made sure no other third parties were online to force the direction of the deals, and typically used phrases emphasizing that I would not be around for long, or that I would be traveling in IRL next week and would not have another chance for several days. Pretty commonplace, but fairly well-timed and useful in keeping the other party interested. This quickly led to back-to-back Nyx scams, both hulls.
Things proceeded to get humorous. One of the scammed Nyx parties, an individual called Moratok, decided to spin me a story of his own. After being scammed out of his supercapital, he wanted to make it extremely clear to me that he was going into Leukemia treatments the next day.
As the day continued, I was presented with my final goal. A 2003 pilot contacted me regarding a false ad to sell a slightly underpriced Leviathan. The agreed price was 100 Billion ISK and he was in quite a hurry to acquire one. With less effort than most of the previous scams, 100 Billion was transferred to my wallet and I was on cloud nine. Never had I thought that I would be presented with the chance to make such a score on a single hull. Titans were all too rare for this sort of thing to happened. Or were they?
My final scam would be one that, in my opinion, puts this streak of scams into EVE history. At this point I am sure I have a fair share of malcontents waiting to denounce my methods, but my intention was never to get banned. Push the limit of what is allowed by trying something no one had done before, yes, but not to lose my accounts in the process.
Shortly after the Leviathan was scammed, I was contacted by a Darkness And Despair pilot, was replied to another false titan ad of mine, in this case a Ragnarok. The pilot originally wanted to use C as a third party, but after exchanging a few mails and realizing how desperate he was after a two month search, things played right into my hands. Thirty minutes later I had another 105 Billion ISK in my wallet.
The sum total of the actual days during which scamming took place? Approximately 3-4 days over the course of several weeks. Most of it came in quick succession before I was forced to lay low and let the market shift around again.