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Maeve Balfour

Scammer creating fake stores - How can I report it, if at all?

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Hi. I'm not sure if this is the appropriate forum to place this, but this is a question I want to raise. I'm hoping merchants here might be able to offer advice.

As a mesh creator (for private usage only) and as someone who is generally creative, I enjoy browsing through the latest mesh listings on the Marketplace to see what others are doing, and occasionally buying. Also, having personally been in mesh creation for years, I fully know what is and isn't possible within SL itself.
This said, I can spot a faked non-SL 3D render a mile off - these are almost always a scammer attempting to rip off unknowing customers with an empty box, and running way with their money (I have seen the scathing reviews many times in the past, so it gives a good indication).

Getting to my point - Over the past week, I have spotted what I am pretty sure is the same scammer ripping off customers over and over again with an empty box, always opening a new store (often within a day) of his/her prior one being closed down. Usually with the same or similar fake products, almost always using promo images lifted directly from turbosquid.com (I have been a member there for years, so I often recognise these stolen renders).
As soon as an item gets a bad review, the scammer pulls it and relists it. When the store is shut down, the scammer just makes a new one with a new account (each account is always only a few days old). My gut feeling tells me this is the same individual - the stolen renders used for the fake promo images are usually from the same small group of turbosquid.com creators.

Is there any way I can report this directly to LL? I'm not sure if it's appropriate to flag items as being relisted when it's a totally different store - but I am pretty certain this is a serial scammer operating. I have been alerting the relevant creators on turbosquid.com of their renders being lifted, but there's not much else I can do that I am aware of.
My main concern is that in the meantime, unsuspecting customers are being ripped off over and over again (often to the tune of around L$10,000 per time), getting a bad experience and probably making them distrustful to the genuine merchants.

Should I do anything? Or should I just ignore my conscience?

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You could AR the person for fraud and list all the names you think are alts and any hard evidence you have.  (gut feelings don't count)  Not sure LL will act on it though as you don't have a "horse in the race". as you have not suffered any loss nor do you have no standing to file an IP viollation complaint through the DMCA process.  Hopefully if anyone has been ripped off they have filed a suport ticket or AR and that is why th stores are getting shut down. 

 

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Technically, your Post is a report.

Do you have any suggestions, as to how the scammer might be stopped?

I am unfamiliar with the reporting systems at Market Place.

An Inworld Abuse Report, may be a sufficient means of alerting LL of Abuse.

Contacting SL Support, is always an open option, for Residents with unresolved questions, or issues, regarding SL.

 

 

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Amethyst: I assumed as much, not having actually made any purchases myself. Hopefully, all persons being ripped off are filing complaints, and touch wood getting the transaction reversed before the scammer is able to cash out (I think from memory it takes a day or two for cashing out to occur, to help reduce fraud).

Knowl: Thanks for the suggestions. I might consider an inworld AR next time to alert LL faster (the actual scammer doesn't have inworld stores, so I'm not sure how LL react to ARs about Marketplace fraud - could be worth a try).

It's mostly frustration on my part, since the Marketplace doesn't offer a means to easily report scamming like this short of being ripped off yourself (at least as far as I am aware of). I can smell the scam stores a mile off, but tend to be helpless to alert others without violating TOS.

Thanks for the advice though, much appreciated.

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That LL does so little to prevent this kind of thing really bugs me so I filed a bug report.

"on each item listing page have the merchants name link to their profile and below the name show their rez date just like it is on the stores home page."


This puts useful info in some one face when they are about to but and not just looking at a stores home page if they even go to the home page at all, wont stop scams but might help, and it doesn't require a policy change or much computer skills to do the up date. 

Why LL has no requirements to sell to the marketplace is mind boggling, some thing like requiring a 30 wait for avatars with out a premium account to sell on the MP would help reduce or slow down repeat scammers, many scammer have high price items trying to make a quick $ so limiting the price of items to under 500L$ for non premium accounts for the first 30 days might help too at least that way if some one falls for a scam they are out less L$  I don't expect any thing to stop all scams on the marketplace but at least some thing to reduce them would help out a lot.

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I've not sold or created any Mesh items, but isn't it a requirement that you place Payment Info on File and complete the online tutorial before you can upload mesh? Isn't it also a requirement to have both the above before you can mark an item for sale on the Marketplace as having Mesh included?

If that is the case, how is the Scammer able to place payment info on file, complete the tutorial and then get away with scamming still? Are they marking their Mesh products as having Mesh or are they ignoring that, marking the items as plain prims but saying they are mesh in the description ..  and then just trusting in people to ignore the lack of mesh indication too?

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Darrius: For genuine mesh uploaders, yes, it is a requirement for you to have payment info on file etc.

In the case of this scammer, the products aren't even flagged as mesh (where the official Permissions / Mesh / Prim Count section is on the product pages). Only permissions are shown in that section. The merchant just has "MESH" etc in the product header and general information text. Unwary buyers will probably overlook this (being supposedly AV replacements, the prim count is most likely not a buying factor for many unsuspecting customers). Unfortunately, I guess some customers are unaware of what to be careful of, and in this case getting stung.

So as such, I assume no payment info is needed at all for this scammer to list the fake items, and just simply creating a new account each time the prior store/account is closed down. I'm not sure how this would translate to cashing out - hypothetically, the PayPal account could be blacklisted, unless the scammer had multiple PayPal accounts? (No idea).

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Ahh .. then that's EXCELLENT news. We do have a "weapon" against the scammer then. They've removed most of the flagging categories we can use to knock listings off the Marketplace, but in this case a product that says it has Mesh but is NOT marked as having mesh can be flagged for "Keyword Spam" ... in essence improper use of keywords. That will get those listings in front of the reviewers and allow them to take action before the scammer can rack up too many sales. Hopefully, if they follow their current standards of removing listings that are flagged, they will immediately remove those listings and render the scammer's listings invisible.

Cross your fingers and get those flag buttons going!

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Ah, excellent point Darrius! 

I'll definitely do that from here on - Flagging items I suspect as empty box scams via the "keyword spam" option. A nice work around to at least get the item into LL's attention.

Hopefully it'll reduce the victims being stung by this lowlife.

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*smiles* While they may have removed almost all defenses we have, from time to time they leave a small gap through which we can stuff a bit of rightful action. Here's hoping they don't remove the "Keyword Spam" flagging option soon. LOL

ETA: Thank you Maeve for being one of those that IS proactive in helping police the Marketplace. It's a shame that those in charge of it won't do it, but it's at least a good commentary on the caliber of people that use Second Life when someone like you takes the effort to help keep our streets and byways clean. Further proof that scammers and thieves are not the majority here but are instead a very small and very unwelcome minority. *cheers*

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phaedra Exonar wrote:

[...]

Why LL has no requirements to sell to the marketplace is mind boggling, some thing like requiring a 30 wait for avatars with out a premium account to sell on the MP would help reduce or slow down repeat scammers, many scammer have high price items trying to make a quick $ so limiting the price of items to under 500L$ for non premium accounts for the first 30 days might help too at least that way if some one falls for a scam they are out less L$  I don't expect any thing to stop all scams on the marketplace but at least some thing to reduce them would help out a lot.

The last time any kind of restriction on who could list was mooted by LL, the outcry was such that you'd have thought LL were going to take and kill all firstborns as a registration requirement.

I doubt merchant registration requirements will ever happen in any form as it would require two things that LL don't have; the willingness to spend money on the development for no tangible gain (they wouldn't see the cost reduction in staff having to deal with the ip infringement as a benefit to them - everything else, from ripping off people to making the marketplace look better are intangibles) and also it's unlikely they have any skilled resource to do it (they can even seem to change where they send emails from without it going wrong).

 

 

 

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Well one of things is that some people can get away with this stuff on second life because it really all depends on what kind of land the people have. 

 

If they have their own private region that they pay for then there is nothing much you can do about it. If they were renting from another resident or renting mainland from linden labs then yeah, you can report them then to the resident their renting from or in mainland a Linden can remove them of what their doing and have them temp or perm banned from the grid.

It really all depends on what kind of sim their on. Thats pretty much about it. If their on a private region then Linden Labs can't really do anything about.

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Maeve Balfour wrote:

Hi. I'm not sure if this is the appropriate forum to place this, but this is a question I want to raise. I'm hoping merchants here might be able to offer advice.

As a mesh creator (for private usage only) and as someone who is generally creative, I enjoy browsing through the latest mesh listings on the Marketplace to see what others are doing, and occasionally buying. Also, having personally been in mesh creation for years, I fully know what is and isn't possible within SL itself.

This said, I can spot a faked non-SL 3D render a mile off - these are almost always a scammer attempting to rip off unknowing customers with an empty box, and running way with their money (I have seen the scathing reviews many times in the past, so it gives a good indication).

Getting to my point - Over the past week, I have spotted what I am pretty sure is the same scammer ripping off customers over and over again with an empty box, always opening a new store (often within a day) of his/her prior one being closed down. Usually with the same or similar fake products, almost always using promo images lifted directly from turbosquid.com (I have been a member there for years, so I often recognise these stolen renders).

As soon as an item gets a bad review, the scammer pulls it and relists it. When the store is shut down, the scammer just makes a new one with a new account (each account is always only a few days old). My gut feeling tells me this is the same individual - the stolen renders used for the fake promo images are usually from the same small group of turbosquid.com creators.

Is there any way I can report this directly to LL? I'm not sure if it's appropriate to flag items as being relisted when it's a totally different store - but I am pretty certain this is a serial scammer operating.
I have been alerting the relevant creators on turbosquid.com of their renders being lifted, but there's not much else I can do that I am aware of.

My main concern is that in the meantime, unsuspecting customers are being ripped off over and over again (often to the tune of around L$10,000 per time), getting a bad experience and probably making them distrustful to the genuine merchants.

Should I do anything? Or should I just ignore my conscience?

id just ignore it Maeve .. LLs own business model encourages ripoffs .. its just 1 way certain unscrupulous ppl choose to play the game .. if ppl are getting ripped off over & over again they must be pretty dumb .. so long as you know better what business is it of yours ?? besides .. do you really think LL is going 2 do anythinga bout it ?? i dont even think they have the staff to investigate stuff like this .. but do what you will

Jeanne

 

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Couldbe Yue wrote:


phaedra Exonar wrote:

[...]

Why LL has no requirements to sell to the marketplace is mind boggling, some thing like requiring a 30 wait for avatars with out a premium account to sell on the MP would help reduce or slow down repeat scammers, many scammer have high price items trying to make a quick $ so limiting the price of items to under 500L$ for non premium accounts for the first 30 days might help too at least that way if some one falls for a scam they are out less L$  I don't expect any thing to stop all scams on the marketplace but at least some thing to reduce them would help out a lot.

The last time any kind of restriction on who could list was mooted by LL, the outcry was such that you'd have thought LL were going to take and kill all firstborns as a registration requirement.

I doubt merchant registration requirements will ever happen in any form as it would require two things that LL don't have; the willingness to spend money on the development for no tangible gain (they wouldn't see the cost reduction in staff having to deal with the ip infringement as a benefit to them - everything else, from ripping off people to making the marketplace look better are intangibles) and also it's unlikely they have any skilled resource to do it (they can even seem to change where they send emails from without it going wrong).

 

 

 

I was a bit suppressed to day to see the bug report I filed last night about making the merchants name on the item page a link to profile, had all ready been looked at by CTL, CTL had commented and added screen shots before sending it on again to get reviewed by some one else, so may be CTL is not doing the bug fixes any more, or there's more then one person at CTL like some people suggested.

 

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I opened a case with Linden Lab and they would not give me a good answer, this is what I got as an answer after I got ripped off with 6000L. 

 

 

Thank you for contacting Linden Lab Support!

Thank you for contacting Customer Support regarding your recent purchase through the Second Life Marketplace.

Unfortunately, the item you purchased is listed as unavailable redelivery.

This information is provided on the product listing on the Marketplace:

"(Redelivery unavailable)"

Customer Support is unable to issue manual refunds for content purchased through the Marketplace website.
All refunds for product purchases are done through the sellers, since the sellers are the ones who are paid for the sale of their products.It will be necessary for you to contact the seller directly inworld for assistance with receiving a refund for your purchase from them.
I am sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused you.

If you have any further issues, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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LL wrote:

 ...
since the sellers are the ones who are paid for the sale
of their products.It will be necessary for you to contact the seller directly inworld for assistance with receiving a refund for your purchase from them.

 


Not entirely true, LL is paid 5% commission on the sale, which is in their power to refund should they choose to do it. By their choice, they do not.

Meanwhile, another virtual world out there in the virtual universe has this to say about the difficulty in implementing user to user transactions with virtual currency:

"After massive fraud in other virtual worlds, no bank or billing provider wants to risk working with another virtual world in the same capacity.".

 

 

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About ten days ago there was reported in these forums someone selling hundreds of easily identified products from top creators. The creators were identified and notified. Presumably they filed DMCAs. The listings disappeared except for one "fat pack" with 64 of the stolen objects in it.

 

Now all the listings are back, along with their glowing reviews from people who are just glad to get such nice stuff so incredibly cheap, and don't really care how. 

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It doesn't get much ineffective than that, rediculously obvious and blatant theft.

The redundancy of de-listing and then contacting support to figure out why or where to put it comes close, though.

I've never subscribed to the fact that DRM doesn't or can't work in SL. It may not work perfectly but it works better than nothing if you're the kind of company that can implement solutions in a timely and reliable way.

Better would be implementing one or more of the merchant suggested solutions to help combat it. The downside of some of those might be mildly painful to some, but it doesn't have to cost us any extra fees and would surely cut some of these cases by half, which leaves that much more honest dollars to honest merchants.

I remember a roadmap that we had once upon a time, promising better solutions for theft.

I'm guessing tackling these kind of solutions are akin to LL not picking up a shovel for fear of blisters.

I look at the recent news of Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer nixing all work-at-home employees, and then look at LL and issues like this and nod. And think perhaps it is time for another CEO. A woman that has experience in running a business would be just the ticket to develop a working trust environment.

At least she'd be more understanding of stolen clothes and hair and less likely to recreate the Etch A Sketch with physics as a new product, and less likely to choose pathfinding and Linden Realms over commerce and virtual goods that make up everything in the world besides land and people.

So there we have it, the answer to everything is a woman, however emasculating that might be.

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Not mesh, but another attempt on fraud: If you use the search words "full perms" in Avarar Appearance, and sort by Newest first, you will find on page one 13 different images of female skins. Those ads are other SL marketplace sellers ads, cropped to remove their names and other dentification

I suspect that this is not a copybotter, but just someone trying to get a few §L. I strongly suspect that the items sold are empty boxes or some freebie skin.

In January, I found another attempt on fraud, where the scammer used pictures from a blog as advertisement. The seller claimed he sold full avatars as shown. The images looked very well made and added an impression of quality. Of course, since it was ripped from a blogger that put a lot of effort in his images. The apparel and accessories was from top creators like Belleza, Truth, Ispachi +++. Their names was not listed, but it looked like the best buy. The ad said it was a limited promo, complete with a glowing review. Just that it was the same wording left from the same name on all products... ;)

Since we can not flag the items unless we own them, I heard in another forum that they can be flagged as False Advertising.

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Dartagan Shepherd wrote:

 

I look at the recent news of Yahoo's CEO Marissa Mayer nixing all work-at-home employees, and then look at LL and issues like this and nod. And think perhaps it is time for another CEO. A woman that has experience in running a business would be just the ticket to develop a working trust environment.

At least she'd be more understanding of stolen clothes and hair and
less likely to recreate the Etch A Sketch with physics as a new product, and less likely to choose pathfinding and Linden Realms over commerce and virtual goods that make up everything in the world besides land and people.

 

(Emphasis Mine)

Here, here!  IMO, LL needs a new CEO of either gender for the above reasons and many more!!

Edit: Clarification

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Wasn't trying to be sexist (or reverse-sexist) with that comment, although in my experience, women do tend to be more consistent as problem solvers in management positions when they're focused. Men tend to run hot and then cold and then hot on the next project and women tend to remain hot until the task is done.

Not to put anyone in a box ... I hate boxes, as I say just personal observations to which exceptions abound.

Very serious about needing a new CEO though. While I think someone with game industry experience was needed, I thought that might come with more extensive executive experience and someone more leader rather than team oriented.

When we petitioned to get a response from Rod, I tried to make a point of saying the situation here is that the board and management had chosen to back employees and bad behavior, and lack of production and employee coddling over its customers. It has become a situation where they really need to choose sides.

His response only reinforced that this was the case to me, in a rather watery "we come to work thinking of you and read the forums everyday", rather than tackling the issues.

They can pay lip service to being a company of change and chant their TAO all day long along with the rest of silicon valley and San Francisco and the startup mentality in general, but a winning product and company bucks those feel-good-sound-good mantras. Meanwhile LL still comes across as daycare coddling their talent, with a lack of focus, follow-through and speed, which keeps pointing to an ineptness in both management and employee talent.

But right, back on topic ... to get things like fraud and commerce under control we need a board that allows a new CEO-as-pitbull that is a friend to no one but the customers and that in action, not as a community manager spouting more Linden love.

Ignoring customers needs in the core product and dinking around with new products that any 4 guys can build in a year in the basement of LL isn't going to turn this virtual world around. That was a limper from the moment it was uttered at whatever bar it was conceived in.

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I'm a Rod Humble fan and not just because he has an excellent taste in football teams, he has moved Linden Lab forward.

However the marketplace needs some serious attention, I don't know if the issues with these dodgy stores are new or whether they are just being reported more, but action needs to be taken.

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Dartagan Shepherd wrote:

Wasn't trying to be sexist (or reverse-sexist) with that comment, although in my experience, women do tend to be more consistent as problem solvers in management positions when they're focused. Men tend to run hot and then cold and then hot on the next project and women tend to remain hot until the task is done.


I didn't think that you were being sexist - I was wholeheartedly agreeing with your statement.  The reason I added "of either gender" was my way of saying "anyone but Rod."

 

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I just had my alt buy what looked like one of my houses on the marketplace (a customer alerted me). It had the same pictures, etc. as my own. It turned out to be some HUD:

 

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 7.48.34 AM.png

 

 

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Ciaran Laval wrote:

I'm a Rod Humble fan and not just because he has an excellent taste in football teams, he has moved Linden Lab forward.

However the marketplace needs some serious attention, I don't know if the issues with these dodgy stores are new or whether they are just being reported more, but action needs to be taken.

@Czari: Whew, escaped with my bits intact then. I promise to try harder not to worry about being offensive!

@Ciaran: I see some movement in fixing bugs, although when you add it up, they're still developing and releasing the same level of buggery rather than holding back and releasing more of a quality release. They don't seem to grasp the importance of less buggy releases and how important that is to retaining users.

I get your point about football and Rod. Personally I like Torley because he plays a mean keyboard (check him out on YouTube exposing Philip Glass techniques if you're into that kind of thing).

He still makes me think of a watermelon Barney though for some reason.

Because it can always get worse and usually does, with Phil endlessly tweeting about counting to 10,000 and Rod creating products for tots, that particular pair tend to make me associate them with Bill and Ted. Dude, you made me lose count!

Suspecting that we can't make progress on issues like theft because we may not be dealing with adults here.

 

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