"There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people." Or so the old saying goes, and so far I've had no reason to disagree with it. Because no matter what one does to protect oneself and others, a person intent on causing harm or doing damage will find a way to do so. The trick is to arrange things so that the cost to them is high enough to deter them from attempting to harm you. Most scammers and thieves will go for an easy target of lesser value than a well-protected but costlier item. After all, one of the reasons they attempt to acquire their wealth dishonestly is because they have an allergy to hard work, so be a hard target – use the safeguards built into the game.
Jagex has come up with a wonderful way of preventing the two most common trading scams – substituting items and offering up less cash – by implementing the second trade window. Of course, people still get scammed because they don't take the time to check the second window, but that's not Jagex's fault. They've designed a system with adequate safeguards; those who ignore the safeguards do so at their own risk.
However, it has been brought to my notice that there is a new variant on the substitute items scam going on. I'm bringing this to your attention, because I have a suspicion that it is not something Jagex can fix easily, and it also has the potential to become quite a bit more serious. What has been going on is that people who are advertising on the forums that they would like to buy certain items are being messaged in-game by other people offering the item(s) for sale, at the current market price. Nothing at all suspicious. So far. When the buyer accepts to meet the seller, the seller asks the buyer to come to his/her world to trade. When the trade takes place, the seller substitutes an inferior but similar-looking item and makes off with the cash. This looks like the standard substitute item scam, right? But hang on, there's a twist. How are the scammers getting away with this old scam? Very simple: they invite the buyer to come to the German server, betting on the fact that the buyer doesn't speak German and thus can't tell that he/she is getting a substandard substitute.
RuneScape is a server-based game. When you log on to a particular server, that server downloads the version of the game it has to your PC for you to play. On a German Server, you get German. If they had Japanese servers, you'd get a Japanese version of the game (assuming your PC can support the Kanji character set). Now if you can read and understand the language, it's not a problem. If the items are visually distinct, again – not a problem. But when the items look similar, and if you don't know what the name of the item is in the displayed language, then the potential for deception and scamming is immense.
The best fix for this is for Jagex to make the current visually similar items more easily distinguishable. There aren't all that many of them: herb seeds are all identical; identified herbs are hard to tell apart as they all have the same leaf shape and are merely distinguished by colour; the colours of some logs are very similar. However, until they do – and that might be quite a while yet - Caveat Emptor, as the Romans used to say. That means Buyer Beware, in plain old English.
Beyond making sure that items are reasonably visually distinct, is it really Jagex's problem to fix? Jagex has set up the game play in such a manner as to provide adequate safeguards against item substitution during trades. Of course, it still happens because people are lazy and greedy. So unless you're either, or both, you are unlikely to get scammed in this manner. There are some pretty simple guidelines that will prevent you being scammed in a trade, and the folks here are Tip.It have provided a long list of tips and hints on how not to get scammed in their Security Centre guide. Here's a few that bear repeating, along with a couple of my own:
- Always take the time to check the second trade window.
- If a trade sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Be very suspicious of any "bargain basement" prices. Also be suspicious if someone offers you way above the market value for something you're trying to sell.
- Know the prices of things. Check the various forums for price guides; ask your friends what the things you want are worth. Pay a visit to the merchanting worlds and see what prices people are asking for things they are selling.
- Don't agree to trade in unusual places. The safest places are banks, followed by the general trading areas on the merchanting worlds. Never, ever trade anyone in or near the Wilderness.
- Don't trade on the German language servers, unless you speak German well enough to know what you're trading.
- Have a calculator handy so that you are sure exactly how much you should be paying or receiving.
Remember, whether you're buying or selling, always check both panels of the second trade window. After all, it's embarrassing to trade with a friend and offer them 100 lobsters instead of the 1,000 you'd agreed on simply because you fat-fingered the first trade window. (Don't ask how I know that – at least it was a friend, not someone who thought I was scamming them!). By the same token, if you've agreed to pay 50,000GP for an item, you don't really want to hand over 500,000GP because a momentary lag added an extra zero. Your friends might laugh at you and give it back, or refuse the trade. A stranger might not be so kind.
Ultimately your safety in RuneScape depends on you. No one else is responsible for it, not even Jagex – if you do stupid things, if you're careless or irresponsible, that's not Jagex's fault, it's yours.
Having said all that, it's worth remembering that most people in RuneScape are perfectly nice, honest people who are there for the same reason you are: to play the game and have a good time doing it. So go, have fun, make trades, but keep your wits about you.
And one last thing – in case you were wondering about the title of this article, Will Robinson was a character in the "Lost in Space" television series. He was a kid who had a pet robot whose main function was apparently to say "Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!" at every possible opportunity. Needless to say, whatever danger there was, it was always averted by Will's dad or one of his older brothers. So as you go off into the RuneScape world, remember the robot and his wise words… Danger! Danger!
Did You Know...
...that as well as the easiest route to a spinning wheel, the town of Neitiznot has the closest furnace to a bank in all of RuneScape?
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