Disclaimer: This guide is 100% player written; PWE/Cryptic are not responsible should a player get scammed as a result of this guide.
This guide intends to bring to light certain unscrupulous scamming attempts that you may encounter in this game. The focus is on how to identify and avoid potential scams, so we'll be talking about details of some scams.
I am aware that by doing this we run the risk of giving unsavory folks ideas. But on balance, I think that warning everyone about these strategies is worth that risk. It's not as if unsavory folks don't get these kinds of ideas anyway.
Please contribute to this guide in a respectful way, remaining focused on how to inform players about identifying and avoiding scams. Refrain from naming/shaming any specific individuals.
Fake Leader-alt Guild Heist
Description: Scammer messages you claiming to be an alt account of an offline guild leader, asking to be invited to the guild and promoted. They can be pretty clever and know things about the guild or individual. When you invite and promote, they can clear out the coffers or steal the guild. Smaller guilds often make easier targets.
What to look for: Unexpected PM from a stranger claiming to be guild leader, sometimes eagerly volunteering shaky proof. Often have an excuse for why this operation needs to happen urgently. If you look up their character using "Find People" you might find them standing next to the bank in PE (easy access to start looting the guild repository).
Best practices: Remind them that anyone with invite privilege can use their own account to invite an offline alt account. Alternately, ask them to log back onto the guild leader account and send you an in-game mail confirming their alt account. A real guild leader would appreciate the caution, so if they get angry/impatient at either suggestion, it's a sign something's not right. Don't invite them to the guild unless you get confirmation (even if you just invite but don't promote, they can approach a different person for promotions).
WTT for Obscure Useless Junk
Description: Scammer in /trade or /zone will post WTT trans enchant (or other valuable item) for an obscure item from the past. Examples include old weapon components, like Malabog's Limb, Dread Risers, or Dread Quillion Fragments, or valuable-sounding junk items like Bronze Skeleton Key, and there are many others. The trick is that the scammer (or an alt account, or accomplice) post the wanted obscure (and otherwise useless) item up for trade on AH or in trade channel for a hefty price tag. They hope someone will buy the useless item and try to trade it. The scammer then ignores the mark and happily makes off with a tidy sum after selling the junk item.
What to look for: Anyone WTT for obscure items that don't sound familiar. Anyone WTT for obscure items that they themselves or an alt are selling on the AH (look at their @ handle). Anyone WTT for obscure items that someone else is selling nearby.
Best practices: Don't buy obscure items from the trade channel or from the AH because someone is offering to trade for them. If a posted WTT request looks like you can make a quick buck by being clever and buying a non-standard item for a trade, it's likely someone else will be making the quick buck, not you.
Sahha, Presents, Bounties, etc.
Description: Scammers will join parties where everyone is meant to contribute some event-related item. They'll benefit from others' items but they'll leave before contributing their own.
What to look for: Unresponsive/uncommunicative outside of being invited to party. Asking to switch to a different character to get the item after people have started opening already.
Best practices: It's best to do these events with friends or guild mates. But that's not always practical, so try to weed out scammers by communicating clearly. If you're leading the party, dictate the participation order (alphabetical, "joined last -> goes first", etc) and list out all of the people. Confirm verbally that everyone has their item with them before starting. If you're doing multiple items each, go around and have everyone contribute their 1st item before doubling up. Pay attention to zone (previous marks sometimes name scammers in chat). If someone is not replying affirmatively in party or to PMs, it might be safer to have them go first or to find a different contributor.
"Throwing in" extra items on a face-to-face trade
Description: Scammers take advantage of the fact that the trade UI is only able to display a limited number of items at once. They fill up the trade window with additional free items (cheap marks, stones, enchants, etc.) and then secretly remove the original valuable item(s), hoping that the buyer approves the trade before they realize that the valuable items have been removed.
What to look for: A trader that's eager to give you many more items than what you agreed to trade for in the first place.
Best practices: Trade interactions have two-step confirmation for a reason. Examine the contents of the second window carefully, paying special attention to the valuable items. If anything seems off, decline the trade. If the trader gets pushy, decline the trade and leave.
Multi-Part or Contingency Trades
Description: Scammers offer a seemingly attractive trade offer, but ask to include another 3rd party in some way. For example, they may start out by saying that they are willing to trade one expensive enchant (ex. T. Dread) for another expensive enchant (T. Lightning). If you inquire about the trade they'll introduce some sort of middle-man or contingency, for example asking you to instead trade your T. Dread for a different less valuable enchantment with their accomplice first (ex T. Vorp), and promising that they will then trade you your desired T. Lightning for the T. Vorp after. As soon as you do the first part of the transaction (which ends up with you holding a lower value than you started with), the scammers block you and disappear.
What to look for: A trader that offers a good deal, but introduces a middle-man or contingency. Any multi-part trade that results in you holding a lower value item at any point in the trade process.
Best practices: Avoid multi-part or contingency trades. If someone introduces a 3rd party or contingency after you first show interest, call off the trade. If you're determined to try to make a deal, ensure that you are holding the higher value item throughout the whole process. In the example above, you could suggest that you trade the T. Light for the T. Dread, and then the two can switch their T. Dread and T. Vorp after (don't get your hopes up: if you catch on, scammers will usually just block you rather than honoring the original deal).
Expensive AH Postings for Inexpensive Items
Description: Scammers will take a lesser-known item and post it for a very expensive price on the AH. They may advertise in trade channels to stir up interest. Sometimes, an accomplice posts the same item at even higher prices to make the cheapest item look like a good deal in comparison. The scam depends on victims not knowing item's value or whether it can be bough cheaply from an NPC store. Often, professions ingredients are used in this scam (ex. tin ingot) because they are available for guild marks from SH merchants and are not frequently posted on AH.
What to look for: Items with only a few listings on the AH, especially if the prices are relatively high.
Best practices: Always ensure you know whether the item you are buying can be acquired from an NPC store. Be skeptical of AH listings that only feature a few posts.
Lesser vs. Greater AH Postings
Description: Scammers will post "Lesser" enchantments for just a few AD less than a "Greater" enchantment of the same type, and hope someone on the AH isn't careful when they're shopping for the "Greater" enchant. They're counting on buyers being too hasty and buying out the cheapest entry before they notice that the quality is lower.
What to look for: Prices on Lesser vs. Greater enchantments. And to a lesser extent, Rank 10 vs Rank 11 vs Rank 12.
Best practices: Always use sub-categories on the AH (makes searching more reliable, anyway). Spell out the full name of what you want to buy, including the rank or quality. Always carefully examine the cheapest couple entries before committing to a purchase.
Bag of Holes
Description: This one is less a scam, but still feels like it fits here. Bag of Holes doesn't hold items. It's a gag item that is a one-slot bag, but any items you place in it "fall" into your other bags
What to look for: AH Full of "Bag of Holes" in the bag category. They look so appealing and cheap compared to alternatives
Best practices: Don't buy a bag of holes for anything other than funzies. You can also use it to prevent certain new bags you pick up from auto-equipping (and binding) to unused bag slots (that's kind of a legit purpose).