Scams, schemes, and conspiracies are part of the culture of Eve Online, for good and for ill. The purpose of this piece is to illustrate one tactic that I have indirectly been a victim of seen used by individuals in high security space to manipulate and monopolize the market for player-owned stations (POSs) near the Jita area. While my own experience applies specifically to Jita, the advice is hopefully sound for ne'er do wells and enterprising individuals in any market hub.
Step Zero: Acquire sufficient capital and personnel to absorb the initial investment in the scheme. Entities not already in participating in this market will likely have a difficult time breaking into it due to the hostilities from current market players. Groups who had an such an early entrance likely had a distinct advantage and rapidly acquired the capital to ward off potential competitors. Additionally, ascertaining the current number of market players is difficult due to the next subsequent step, though my own limited experience indicates that one such group in the Jita area has an absolute minimum of six corporate entities involved in the scheme.
Step One: Create several corporations and possibly alliances that are completely unaffiliated with one another. Your objective here is to create as much obfuscation for the scheme as possible. You should not have personnel switch between corporations, and each corporation or alliance will have a separate purpose. A minority of the corporations, possibly (but not necessarily) united by a single alliance, will house a sizeable number of skilled characters who are capable of flying relatively high DPS and instant lock ships. The remaining corporations created will house only a few players each, and while those players do not need to be particularly skiled, committing some resources to your shell corporations may to further obfuscate the nature and intention of the overall scheme.
Step Two: Find an occupied POS near the Jita area. The owner of this POS should preferably be a lone industrialist with his own corporation or alternatively a member of a smaller corporation that does not have the resources or capital thwart your own resources. Assuming you were an early player in this sort of scheme, your resources may be considerable enough to discourage meaningful resistance.
Step Three: War-dec the victim and destroy the POS. Your objective is to destroy the POS and any resistance the POS-owner will put up in defending said POS. Further objectives aren’t strictly necessary for the scheme, but demoralizing your enemy in an effort to make sure the war is not declared mutual by the defender is an added benefit for your corporation. Recent changes in Retribution mean the incentive to maintain a long war is sometimes counterproductive and expensive, depending on the size and scale of parties involved. Thus, you should only utilize a war-dec for as long it is necessary to secure the POS location.
Step Four: Use one of your corporations not affiliated with the war-dec to erect a new POS in the location you have recently liberated. Obfuscation should remain a top priority in this endeavor, so try to minimize the connections between the shell corporation that erects POSs and the corporations used to war-dec POS-owners.
Step Five: Sell the POS and location to a buyer of choice, preferably an independent industrialist. You can and should use the Eve forums to facilitate this sale. The sale of the POS needs to be reasonably priced, but not too cheap as to be suspicious to potential buyers. Furthermore, the goal of the sale is to recoup the costs of placing the POS and also to generate revenue and profit.
Step Six: Repeat steps three through five, for as long as it makes economic sense. Players who participate in this scheme now have the convenient ability recapture and flip POS locations recently sold to buyers should that be desired. Such a scheme, given enough volume, would be sufficiently lucrative.
Step Seven: Profit. Avoid alienating the wrong POS holders who may take offense at this sort of practice and have larger amounts of resources. Remember that the goals of the scheme are not to grief POS holders, but are to make a reasonable return on your initial investment.
I cannot stress enough the importance of obfuscation in this endeavor. For example, using nearly identical icons between shell corporations is an unfortunate misstep that will likely give away the whole scheme.
Finally, avoiding this scheme is not necessarily an easy task as it primarily targets victims who are largely unable to effectively defend against a war-dec in high-sec space. Groups already able to defend themselves likely won't see themselves as potential targets, assuming individuals carrying out this sort of activity are behaving like rational actors. Like most activities in Eve, being aware of potential risks is half the battle, and I hope this article has been enlightening will inspire independent industrialists and smaller corporations to plan accordingly.