When travelling through New Eden, it's always pretty clear when you hit a major trade-hub, as local chat quickly fills with an endless succession of contract offers, a proportion of which are invariably too good to be true. This is the domain of a peculiar breed of player who, if not unique to EVE, then at least only in New Eden will they find their practices accepted, if perhaps despised. This is the natural habitat of the scammer.
By default, I have always regarded everything I see advertised in the local channel as bait in a trap set by some nefarious trickster. Some are easy to spot, but it's those that seem genuine that concern me. Maybe they ARE genuine, or maybe they're just so clever I can't see the trap. I just can't be sure.
Nonetheless, I often find it entertaining to browse the potential scams to test myself and I even find myself developing a begrudging admiration for these scammers. The profession certainly requires tenacity and the good ones show quite a bit of cunning and creativity. One such regular whom I have witnessed plying her trade on many occasions is Spaceship Barbie. I approached her for an interview and she agreed.
I secured my wallet and my false teeth and got on with the interview:
Seismic Stan: Spaceship Barbie, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to answer these questions. That's an interesting name, is there any scamming-related psychology behind the name choice and is there a Spaceship Ken?
Spaceship Barbie: The name doesn't really have anything to do with scamming. Just a name. There is a spaceship Ken, sadly, someone made him to terrorize me :(
Seismic: Scamming, along with ninja-salvaging and suicide-ganking is probably one of the EVE activities least likely to endear yourself to other players. What sort of feedback do you get? Do you get hate-mail or harvest tears like a ninja? Any particularly amusing heckles you can recall?
Barbie: 95% of the people people who fall for the scams dont even say anything. I dont get much hate mail, or tears. I do recive a lot of smack in the local comms channel.
Seismic: Do you work alone or do you work with others? Is there a scammer community? Do you participate in any other activities beside scamming?
Barbie: I work alone, but I have a lot of friends. There is no real comunity other than C&P boards.
I have done pretty much everything you can do in EVE. from missions to corp theft to mining to building to trade, piracy, 0.0 sov skirmishes, and everything in between.
Seismic: I think I recall witnessing you (either in local or through a message in your bio) warning other scammers off of imitating you or at least detering scamming in the same system as you, are there many territorial disputes amongst scammers?
Barbie: I do not discourage copycats. I would rather them not scam in the same system, but whatever, its a free game, and after they see how much I've made with scams, I can't blame them for copying me.
Seismic: Is there much craft to constructing the scams or do you simply recycle the same ideas for a new audience? What preparation do you do? What's the most successful or elaborate scam you've pulled off?
Barbie: Yes and No. I can't go in anymore detail or I'd have to charge you. :)
Seismic: I think we should keep well away from financial transactions between us. I asked the Tweetfleet Twitter community for some questions. Here's what they asked:
Ievecoza had a two-part question, "1. How many people fall for scams? and 2. Which ones are the easiest to pull off?"
Barbie: 1. A lot. 2. Not sure, whatever's hot at the time.
Seismic: Casiella Truza asks "What's the average number of tries or length of time to find a mark?"
Barbie: There is none. Could be seconds, could be weeks. There is no guarantee that any scam will work. It's always different.
Seismic: Tgl3 rather cynically wants to know how broken your CTRL + V keys are?
Barbie: Even better hold 'ctrl + up arrow' to pan through your previous messages. :) (everyone who didnt know this should send me 5m!)
Seismic: A top tip, thanks. Hang on, is that actually going to empty our cargo into space or something? Try it at your peril. Anyway, moving on, Matthew Gurley asked "Do you ever have any moral qualms with what you do?"
Seismic: Arcana Mortis wonders if you have an idea on the average IQ of an EVE player as being a scammer probably puts you in a position to make an educated guess.
Barbie: Its just a video game, i dont bother to break it down to the people on the other end of the screen. its just contract pvp.
Seismic: Further to Arcana's question, are there any particular patterns with regard to player-types who fall for scams, in their age, playstyle etc?
Barbie: Not really.
Seismic: Myrhial Arkenath asks for your thoughts on the new contract system up on SiSi and also wonders if faction ships being available on the open market has affected your trade?
Barbie: I havent looked into the new contract system, but it wont effect much.
Seismic: If you were interviewing yourself, what question would you ask?
Barbie: No, not really :)
Seismic: Thanks, that's not actually a question, but moving on... What advice would you give to anyone considering taking up scamming?
Barbie: 95% of all people who try scamming quit within the first two days. Like I said before, it could be weeks before you get a hit. You have to be devoted to the profession. And dont fucking use bots.
Seismic: Any final words for the readers of this interview?
Barbie: o/ fly safe, and double-check those contracts!
And with that she went back to her pink space-car and pink glittery space mansion, all paid for with her ill-gotten gains. Her answers were candid, if a little concise, I was just glad I still had my own hair.
With thanks to Spaceship Barbie for taking the time and to the Tweetfleet members for providing questions. Today's show was brought to you by the letters I, S and K.
Send me some and I'll send you double back ;)