Playing computer games can teach life lessons. Take Runescape, for example. I don’t play myself, being too hooked on Sid Meyer’s Civilization V and Diablo III at the moment. But a friend recently explained common Runescape scams to me, and boy, did they sound familiar.
1) Trust Trading Scams. You give a stranger money or an item, trusting that they’ll return the favor. Instead, they take your money and leave. Or, they ask to borrow items like spirit shields, which can’t be loaned. In real life, you can check www.bbb.org to see who you’re dealing with. In Runescape, beware of strangers and don’t give more than you can afford to lose.
2) Doubling Your Money. “Trade me some money, and I’ll double it, but you have to give me the money first. We have to do two trades.” Why? Because they want to run a kind of Nigerian lottery scam on you where you play banker—but without the fake check.
Be aware that scammers sometimes try to convince you they’re legit by doubling small amounts of money before accepting a big one—and then logging out. Or, they may be in cahoots with other players who pretend their money was doubled to convince you it’s legit. (Just like the shills in Soapy Smith’s gang of con men on the corner. Oh yes, sir, I just found a $100 dollar bill wrapped in this bar of soap—he’s legit!)
3) Rapid Trading. Cons of all kinds urge their marks to act hastily–without thinking. Watch out if a stranger offers to replace your armor with a more expensive set claiming that their game is lagging and the trade has to be performed quickly. Remember, a stranger’s urgency is a red flag.
How it works: They offer the expensive set, then decline the trade “because of the lag.” In the next trade window they offer a cheap iron armor set, hoping you’re too excited about getting a good deal to carefully check the trade window.
Some tips from the Runescape Wiki site on avoiding in-game scams (that apply to EVERY situation in life):
- If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Do not gamble with items you’re not willing to lose.
- Keep account information secure. Don’t tell anyone else your password, recovery questions, or email address.
- Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing–carefully check the trade window to verify which items are being traded.
Of course scamming (stealing money, items, or accounts from other players by deception or trickery) is strictly against the Rules of Runescape. But just like in real life, even if scammers are punished by being muted or banned, you may not—the site says will not—get your stuff back, so it’s better to avoid fraud in the first place.
For other common Runescape scams, check out the Wiki page. And stay safe out there in all your worlds–from fantasy to real.