Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scam Alert : Management Scam

Here is my first scam report. What is a scam report? good question.

Basically its a sort of 'heads up' for all merchants and buyers to let you know of people, practices, or particular techniques that unscrupulous people are using to seperate you from your hard earned L$ or scam you out of L$ that are rightfully deserved. By being aware of these scams and how to avoid them/prevent them/be vigilant against them, you can take action to protect yourself against them. Also, unlike LL, we can name names here, thus, we will post lists of known scammers who use a particular scam.

Scam Alert!

'Special Sale' or 'Management' Scam
Consumer and Merchants
Modus Operandi
: A scammer poses as an employee, manager, or representative of a reputable or popular designer/store and is offering a 'special sale' or 'special discount' of the designer's products. They are usually actually in one of the stores being targetted and talk to the customers in the store (the victims).
How it goes down: The scammer will try to act on people's want for a sale or discount, usually preying on new residents, or even some of the more ignorant or careless older ones. They will generally leave the store or teleport the victim to another location to perpetuate the scam. They will rez a box, or other item often carefully constructed with ripped textures to make it seem legit. Inside the box will be nothing, or crap, sometimes even carefully renamed to resemble the naming schemes of the emulated designer. They will either request payment directly to them through their profile, or sometimes they will use a vendor.
Seeing through the Scam (Consumer): The creative ones are harder to see through than the halfass ones,but there are a few ways to see through this one.

1) The technical way: check the properties on an object before you pay it. If you look on the object's properties (left click the object, select edit, look at the first tab, look for creator), you'll see that there is a field that says "Creator". This is the person that made the object. Even if a person owns an object made by another resident, the creator never changes. Thus, if an object is legit, it will have the creator set as the designer you want to buy from. In this scam, the object presented will mostly likely have the scammer's name as the creator despite how it looks. Remember, anyone can take a snapshot. Forgeries have been around since the beginning of time. As a buyer, you have to make sure you check for legitimacy BEFORE you hand over the cash. If the product is genuinely from the designer, it will ALWAYS have the designer's name as the creator.

2) The intuitive way: Most shoppers need to develop a sort of 'spider sense' of shopping. Mainly, observing behavior that seems 'odd'. As a rule, MOST stores don't have staff. There is only one owner, and that is the Designer themselves. If there is legitimate staff, they will NOT offer sales or deals themselves. They will answer questions, point you to the products you are looking for, or model merchandise so you can see it on someone. They DO NOT offer discounts on behalf of the designer. If you see someone doing this, the little bells of "WRONG" should go off in your shopper's brain. Do not pay these people directly, no matter how legit they sound. All the reputable designers have vendors and stores for a reason. They do not get their money from a third party resident. Whenever in doubt to the legitimacy of a representative, message the designer directly and wait until they reply before opening your wallet. Remember, YOU are in control here. Be very suspicious of people bearing 'deals'.

3) The paranoid way: Its good to be paranoid. In this case, make sure you understand who the business owner/designer is. Pay only objects that you have verified belongs (is owned under the creative field) to that individual, and never pay a third party directly through profile for something made by someone else.

Preventing the Scam (Merchants): Being that most of us have real lives and can't be online all the time, there isn't a lot of options that are practical. If you are a larger retailer, it might make sense to 'hire' a legit staff of trusted friends that can mind the store and keep an eye out for any suspicious characters. If you feel comfortable, you can even give them the power to eject these individuals from your stores. However, remember, if they are targetting one location, they are probably targetting more of your locations, not just your main store. If you have a lot, this can become a costly option to pay so much staff. The second thing you can do is raise awareness and your profile of who you are, and that you have no staff. A good practice is to create a group for customers of your business to subscribe to for updates and new product announcements, but you can also notify your customers if scammers are targetting your store. Remind your customers that you do not have representatives and tell them how to recognize your official sales. You can also put a large sign in your store to this effect, and perhaps link them back here, or let it give a notecard about the scams when you touch the sign. Education of customers is important. They will thank you in the long run.

Avatars known to use this scam:
Rain Riel
Batista Plasma
Graffiti Dye

Possible affiliates of this scam:
Twilight Takakura
creamy raine
CandieRaine Paperdoll

If your store has been affected by this scam, please post here to let people know to watch for them in your store, and inform you or other customers about the scam. If we watch out for each other, we can help deter this behavior.

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At 6:10 PM, June 20, 2006, Blogger Prokofy Neva said...

How are you able to distinguish between people who legitimately wish to resell used items that they have the right to resell because they are on transfer, and these management scams? Sounds like a very broad brush.

Also, on what basis were these list of other avatars indicted in this scam?

At 10:25 PM, June 20, 2006, Blogger Myst Panther said...

If a person is genuinely reselling an item, it will always be created by the designer. Even though the person owns it, the box will clearly say "Created by: genuinedesignername". If it is infact the scam, the box will not say that, it will have been created by the individual in question. If the person claims they put everthing in a box to make it easier to transfer or something, i'd be VERY leery about dealing with that person, especially if they were very insistant on using a created box they had created opposed to an original box. And if they became irritated that I asked about it, I'd walk away. Thats usually a good sign of a pressure tactic.

With this particular scam however, the avatar perpetuating the scam will be in the store usually wearing some kind of official looking group tag 'working' and actively misrepresenting themselves to the public entering the store as a manager or liason of some form of the actual designer. They say they have a 'deal' from the designer which is false information. For this to be recognized as this scam, these elements have to be there. This isn't a yard sale senario. This is a case of active misrepresentation.

Several people have come forward as victims of this scam (as both merchants and consumers) in both the secondlife forums and in personal blogs.

The avatars listed as possible accomplices were not directly involved but were known partners or potentially known alts of the known perps of this scam. This is why they are listed as 'possibles' and not 'definates'. They were involved at the time of the deed either by proxy or association. The sources used to gather this information include the SL forums, SLuniverse.com forums, and personal blogs.

At 8:16 AM, June 23, 2006, Blogger Candi said...

Just FYI Rain Reil (saw him on the list of people here) has an alt (Cougar Childs) and him and HulkHogan (something i forget the last name) were also running around going to casino's with a fake casino machine for sale, and when the poor soul would go to buy it, it would somehow give Rain and Hulk access to the person's funds, so they would be able to take everything. Just thought I'd help out in the scamming postings haha


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