PERIMETER – Con artists have been executing increasingly successful scams against unsuspecting ship captains, many of which leave victims with no legal recourse. “People have to learn how to protect themselves,” said a Concord detective, who requested that his name be withheld from publication. “These matchstick guys aren’t breaking any laws per se—they’re just successful at convincing the unwary to take completely unnecessary and often times outrageous risks.”
In one such scam, a relatively inactive member of a larger corporation begged and pleaded for isk on the CORP channel, claiming that he was “starting over from scratch”. He said he could quickly repay any takers so long as he was loaned enough to acquire some single-run battleship blueprints from a “close friend”, who was allegedly selling them to him at prices far below the current market value as a favor to “help him get back on his feet”. The scammer then promised a 50 percent return on investment to anyone that made a donation, citing that he’d have no problems selling the single-run battleship copies at their market value within a day or two. After a prolonged period of uncomfortable silence followed by a few “C’mon guys, give me a break” routines, someone finally succumbed to guilt-induced sympathy and gave several million isk to the “fellow corpmate” with all the genuine intentions of helping him and also believing that he’d be earning a nice isk return for doing so. The very next day, all corporation members conveniently received an automated corporate notification informing them of the scammer’s “untimely death”.
In another scam, victims are convinced to accept courier missions as a way to execute transactions for battleships. In this scheme, the con artist tells the unsuspecting buyer that the collateral for the courier mission is the “sale price” of the battleship they think they’re about to purchase. When the buyer accepts the mission and pays the collateral, they open the gigantic package only to find a massive heap of veldspar or a much smaller ship, often times an industrial-class vessel.
“The ‘mission impossible’ scam is my favorite,” said the detective. “These gullible skippers get duped into accepting missions that are either extremely difficult or outright impossible to accomplish just because they have an attractive payout. These guys don’t realize that once they accept, the collateral is wired right out of their account, no questions asked. And the contents of what they’re allegedly hauling are sealed. The courier mission system is set up with the assumption that you know what you’re doing when you accept a mission—and that also implies that you trust the person offering it. No laws are broken when you decide to take on a mission that can’t be done, and you have no recourse when things don’t go your way.”
Asked about some advice on how to avoid scams, the detective answered “Well for starters, only use the trade system available at all stations to conduct transactions for items. Also, don’t ever take a courier mission unless you trust the person offering it. It’s a great tool for corporations to parcel out work that needs to be done as part of everyday business. Beyond that, always remember that you assume all of the risk when you agree to a mission. If you see a big reward for a courier mission, odds are that it’s too good to be true.”
When questioned about some blueprint thefts that have been reported recently, the detective wouldn’t go into very much detail. “That’s a whole different story, and it’s one that I’m not going to elaborate very much on—except to say that we’re relentlessly going after people that knowingly steal from others using exploitive techniques that can’t be countered via conventional means. And so long as you’re going to print that, also print this warning: Be damn careful who you give hangar access to.”
The detective declined further comment.