A scam is an attempt by one or more players to cheat others out of money or goods. Scams always involve some type of deception. There are tools for reporting scammers in-game to ArenaNet, which has sole jurisdiction over deciding the appropriate response.
To protect yourself from falling prey to a scam, ask yourself the following:
- Are you required to trade goods or services before the other person? If so, be sure to ask for collateral or other substantive assurance beforehand.
- Does the deal seem too good to be true? It probably is. Fair trades always involve both parties getting something of comparable value. Take time to find independent price checks (see below).
- Have you double-checked the offer in the trade window? Consider taking a screenshot of final trades before accepting.
- Does the bargain involve another software program or email? Stop yourself right there. (1) ArenaNet does not support the use of third-party programs; (2) use of software is illegal under the terms of the end-user licensing agreement; (3) even if this was okay, there is almost no chance that an honest in-game trader will ask you go outside the game to complete a deal.
Identifying a scam
Be suspicious of any offer that seems to be too good to be true. If you doubt that a deal is genuine, ask for an outside opinion, e.g. in all-, guild-, or alliance- chat. Some players also announce scammers when they recognize them, so to be safe in trading, keep track of what people around you say.
The lists below outline the most common scams so that you can avoid them by looking out for their hidden but recognizable clues. Naturally, scammers are always coming up with new schemes and variations, so also use the common sense questions above.
New or recently common scams
- Vanguard armor bonus (pre-Searing only) — A trader advertises appealing (and expensive) equipment claiming that they have a special bonus during Vanguard Quests, even though there is no such bonus.
Some scammers attempt to convince you to do something, usually by unexpectedly whispering you.
- Report threat — The scammer threatens to report you if you do not give them gold or items. This is a scare tactic in which they claim to have screenshots or stories to show the moderators, regardless of whether you have done anything wrong. In practice, ArenaNet always reviews chat and transaction logs; you will never be punished or banned simply because you were reported.
- Partner pricing — Two scammers pose, one offering to buy an item for an unusually high price, and the other offering to sell the same item for less. The victim sees the good market opportunity, and buys the item, thinking they’ll be able to sell it to the higher buyer. That buyer never actually buys the item, and the two meet up elsewhere to split the profit. (A variation of the scam is to post the too-good-to-be-true prices on a popular forum or auction site as one character and advertise in-game as another.)
- Post delivery — The scammer offers to transfer gold or items from your pre-Searing character to your post-Searing characters, since there is no storage in pre-Searing. Once you hand over the items, the scammer runs off with them. If you must transfer your items, rely on a friend or guild member, not a convenient stranger.
- Account transfer — The scammer wants to buy or sell a Guild Wars account, which is both illegal under the EULA and impossible to safely transfer. If the transaction is discovered, all accounts involved will be permanently banned. Sometimes the scammer is only interested in your credentials (by suggesting they need it to transfer the money): never, ever provide your personal account information to anyone else.
- Runner scam — This affects both runners and customers. (1) A scammer offers a run, asks to be paid before finishing, but then leaves you without finishing the run. (2) The scammer offers to pay for a run from you, but refuses to hand over the cash before arriving; once you bring them where they want to go, they log out instead. To get around both issues, runner and runnee should agree to pay in multiple parts, or halfway along, or some mutually safe model. Also, be sure only to exchange payment between the runner and the runnee, unlike in this example.
- Outside advantage — The scammer advertises an advantage external to the game, such as the purchase of gold for real money or the use of third-party programs to run bots or hacks. All such aids are illegal under the EULA, and are unsafe both for your Guild Wars account and your personal information. Usually, the scammer directs you to a website where you will receive the goods. Never visit unfamiliar websites advertised by scammers. They often install malware on your computer; in the best case, your account could be compromised by a keylogger and eventually banned, and in the worse case your computer and your personal info could be mined by a virus.
- Impersonation — The scammer impersonates an ArenaNet or NCsoft employee and asks you to provide your email, password, account info, or personal info. First, all employees display, in large green letters over their character, "GM" (like this). Second, these employees will never ask you for any information in-game, nor will they penalize you for refusing to give such information.
- Guild sale — The scammer offers a guild position (leader or officer) in return for money. They demand that you pay before receiving the position, and when you pay are not obliged to hand over the position. Instead, they kick you out of the guild and run off to avoid being reported.
- Conset scam — The scammer takes money that is meant to reimburse them for using a conset, but maps out of the instance before using the cons. There is no way to avoid this, but you can take screenshots and report their actions to ArenaNet (which will prevent them from repeating the behavior).
It is common for players to pay for consets by dropping gold on the ground and there are a tiny number of players who will steal the cash just before mapping out. Although this is technically stealing (rather than a true scam), you should also report such thieves. You can also prevent this by trading directly with the owner of the consets.
Some scammers abuse the trade window, usually with a visual trick, to get you to accept a trade you do not want to make.
- Customization — The scammer attempts to sell an item that has been customized by (falsely) stating that it can be re-customized. In order to prevent this, the game displays a message warning buyers that customized items can never be used by other characters.
- Often, when a new item is introduced, scammers claim that it has somehow changed the way customization works; this has never been true. For example, some people claimed that there was a bug with Pink Dye that let players re-customize weapons.
- Modification — The scammer makes a fair or generous offer, but makes an excuse as to why they can’t accept (such as “Gotta answer the phone” or “Inventory is full, lemme visit storage”). While you are distracted, they change some part of the trade, swapping out items or changing the gold amount, and hope that you don’t notice and accept anyway.
- Gold amount — The scammer relies on the appearance of the gold and platinum counters to offer a similar-looking amount of gold (decimal places are easy to miss). This is often when buying a high-end item whose price exceeds the maximum that can be traded (the scammer offers 100 instead of the maximum 100 ). Check gold amounts carefully before accepting.
- Icon match — The scammer offers items that have the same icon, but different values. For example, Lilac Eyes look like Rubies, and Ice looks like Sapphire. Similarly, kits or consumables look the same regardless of the number of uses remaining. Always mouse-over items to see their description before accepting.
- Sequential quantities of stacked items - The scammer offers sequential trades (such as is common where the desired quantity of stackable items total more than 100 platinum) and uses the shape/size of the icon, and the altered background color of a filled trade window to obscure an altered quantity offered in one of the additional trades. The scammer will typically log out immediately after completing the altered quantity trade. This scam relies upon the hurried actions of completing several trades, and the failure to carefully read the listed item, especially in instances with items sharing similar icons such as Icy Lodestone/Glacial Stone, Mursaat Token/Glob of Ectoplasm and others. Always read the listed items as well as mouse over the icon(s) before clicking "accept", in each instance of a series of trades.
Some scammers lure you into an explorable area where the “offer” involves you dropping an item, after which they can physically steal it. Dropping items is never a safe way to trade.
- Teleport — The scammer claims the trade window is not suitable for the trade, and offers instead that you both drop your items and pick them up. However, several skills (mostly Assassin) allow a character to teleport or shadow step beside you and grab your item, too quickly for you to prevent it happening. This method can work at any distance.
- Forced death — The scammer offers to party with you, for whatever reason, and when you die, resurrects you. Some resurrect skills kill you again when they stop being maintained or after a duration, such as Vengeance. At some point both you and the scammer drop your items for a trade, but the scammer stops keeping you alive and/or refuses to resurrect you, leaving you powerless to prevent them from taking your items.
- Cheating — The scammer claims to have a method of hijacking the game’s rules, including creating bots to generate wealth, altering item stats, or duplicating items. They offer to share the wealth for an unusually cheap price. Never trust such an impressive offer: if you actually receive these items, you will probably be banned; if you do not, you just lose your money.
Reporting scams or policy violation
There are two methods of reporting scams to ArenaNet:
- The in-game reporting system, which requires the suspected scammer to remain in the same district and
- The formal PlayNC reporting system.
- Gather evidence of the scam, especially screenshots, the approximate time/date, the character name of the alleged scammer, your character's name, the district in which the trade/offer took place, and trade details. Take screenshots of the Chat Window log.
- Open the NCSoft support page. (Enter any necessary location/language details.)
- If you have an account, you can login; if not, you can submit a report using your email address.
- Fill in the questionnaire, check the information, and submit.
- Typically you will receive an immediate automated email notice, confirming that your report has been received, though it often will take 2-3 business days before you receive a response from a support official.
- You receive a warning notice if the other player's offer is changed; the message is overlayed across their half of the trade window.
- Independent price checking
- Guild Wars Auctions: the only official auction fansite. (Requires no registration to browse current offers; login required to view historical final trades.)