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What if I told you that you could make ‘ticks’ which ratting super pilots could only dream of? Plus, without risking a 20 billion ISK ship or being a part of a major Nullsec alliance, sound more incising? Well it’s all possible in EVE. Welcome to the first part on what I hope will be an illuminating series on the dark arts of scamming in New Eden.

Introduction

We’re going to look at one of the oldest scams in the book: ISK doubling. Unless you’ve somehow managed to avoid the trade hubs of Eve, it’s likely that you’ve come across a shady figure offering to double any amount of ISK you send to him or her.

Despite its antiquity, this scam works and works well, often netting ticks which would make super ratters jealous. That’s because it preys on the greed of other players: the opportunity to get something for nothing is too tempting for some to ignore.

There are a few variations of the ISK doubling scam, each of which come with different levels of effort and reward. From lowest to highest effort:

  • Spray and Pray – Copy and paste a cookie cutter offer to double ISK into the Local channel in your trade hub of choice, and hope free ISK trickles in.
  • Follow the Rules – Put a complicated set of rules in your bio and tell people that if they follow them, they’ll get their ISK back then tell Local to read your bio to win. Usually this is combined with telling people that the winners are funded by the people who fail to follow the rules;
  • The Game Show – This is my preferred style of ISK doubling scam. The idea here is to take over Jita local with a flood of people saying you’re legit and then wait for the whales to send the big bucks.

I’ve tried all of the above, and by far my best sessions have come from the game show method, so that’s what I’m going to focus on today.

Setting up for ISK Doubling

To do this properly, you’re going to need:

  • Some starting capital (ISK) — I like to have at least a few hundred million
  • A few alts or partners in crime
  • A cover story – See Follow the Rules
  • Some Rules
  • Time – A minimum of 45 minutes, while ISK can come sooner, just be ready to go this long

Starting ISK

You might be asking yourself why you need starting ISK. You’re supposed to be making money, not losing it, right? Well yes, but in order to make the most money doubling, I’ve found, paying out the earlier, smaller ISK amounts often encourages people to a) thank you in local, legitimizing your scam; and b) play again with larger amounts of ISK.

Alts or Partners

Scamming is inherently a PvP activity, but instead of pitting your fitting skills and knowledge of game mechanics against an opponent’s, the arena is your ability for psychological manipulation against their ability to resist temptation. The most successful scams are those which successfully overcome risk averseness in other players. The more people thanking you in local and vouching for your willingness to pay out, the more likely people are to drop their guard and take a chance.

The Cover Story

The purpose of the cover story is to provide a reason for other people to suspend their disbelief. Something for nothing becomes easier to believe when there’s a reason for it.

Possible Stories:

  • You just got your first super and feel generous
  • Your alliance just built its first Keepstar and you’re inviting people to celebrate with you
  • You’re quitting and feel like giving away all your money.

Make it feel like a milestone, and they are getting to share in it aids convincing people it’s real. You’re also going to need a cover for why you need them to send ISK first. I have my preferences, but I’m going to leave this one to you to figure out, because mine would make me too easy to identify.

The Rules

The purpose of the rules is to create a sense of urgency in other players, to make them feel like they need to participate NOW instead of waiting. Some rules I like:

  • A maximum amount which you’re giving away, total
  • A maximum number of plays per player – I like 3 – this prevents them sending 1m then 2m then 4m etc and never really taking a risk
  • A minimum and maximum amount which players are allowed to send – you don’t want to spend your time doubling 1 ISK

Other rules are up to you, just remember complexity can help sell the scam, but too complex and pilots will skip the read.

The Bait

You need to get a feel for good times to do ISK doubling. The worst times are when other scammers have control of Jita local — especially other ‘game show’ scammers who will be talking a lot and encouraging a lot of conversation. Identify a time when Local is active, but not too spammy that your messages will just get lost, and open up with something like this:

Hey Jita, I just got my first titan and I want to celebrate with everyone by giving away 10 billion ISK. Send me any amount between 5 million and 500 million and I’ll send double back.

3 plays max per person!

Paid out so far: 0 ISK.

Wait a minute for a skeptic to pipe up. If they don’t, use one of your alts to play the role of the skeptic:

Alt: lol obvious scam
Scammer: Nope, just happy to share with everyone! Give it a try, it’s only 5 mil.
Alt: …
Alt: fine. i’ll take the hit so you don’t scam anyone else. 5 mil sent.
Scammer: 10 mil sent, have fun.
Alt: thanks, i guess.

After this, your next alt can be the naive ‘potential victim’.

Alt: hey i sent you 50 mil a few minutes ago.
*wait a bit*
Scammer: <Alt name>, sorry I’m getting a lot of people wanting free ISK, 100 mil sent!

You’re going to want to keep spamming your initial offering every 5 minutes or so, upping the ISK paid out every paste or two.

PAY your alts

Make sure you actually send the ISK between the characters, you will encounter a few breeds of skeptic whilst doubling, but a common type will ask for screenshots. ISK doubling between you and your alts is a really easy way to silence or befriend those players. Additionally, it ensures you have access to the wallet screenshots when required.

The Long Con

When you start getting bites, you’re going to need to decide who’s getting paid. There’s no exact science to this, but earlier and smaller payments are good candidates for repayment. Make sure you don’t repay immediately, you want people to think you’re busy so that the people who don’t get paid won’t realize immediately that they’ve been scammed. When you pay someone, drag their name into local with how much you’ve sent them. With any luck they’ll say thanks, further legitimizing your scam.

Battling Skeptics

Skeptics come in various breeds. While some can be ignored, some are best responded to. The rough types can be summed up as:

  • “They’re all your alts” – respond with ridicule;
  • “It’s a scam” – ignore or respond on an alt you’ve paid;
  • “He’ll only pay out small amounts” – make sure one of your early doubles is a few hundred mil to an alt, take a screenshot of the transaction and paste it in Local.

Usually the people you’ve paid out will help with the skeptics too.

The Prize

Hopefully you’ll have got a few decent bites, this is an example of a morning session of doubling for me (the 150m payout and the 100m payout were to my alts):

Eve Wallet

Here I made about 1.1 billion in approximately one tick (20 minutes). A good Nyx pilot in Delve might hope to make a tenth of this in the same period of time. Having said that, some days you’ll lose money. Some days no one will bite. Some days the guy you scammed yesterday is going to log on right as you start and put everyone off sending you any ISK.

Bonus Tip

If you want to profit from another ‘game show’ ISK doubler, there are really two ways to do it:

  1. Thank them for sending you a large amount of ISK, wait for them to confirm, then wait. If you’re lucky they’ll send you some ISK for legitimizing their scam.
  2. If you send a reasonably small amount (20 mil or less) as soon as they start, there’s a good chance you’ll get your ISK doubled. It’s a risk though.

Conclusion

That about sums up ISK doubling, the little psychological ploy that could. Next time, we’ll be looking at another way to profit from peoples’ greed: the 3SM game, which relies on subtly modifying contracts to trick people into paying the wrong price or getting the wrong item.

Have you been scammed? Pulled off any great local games? Got a specific scam you’d like to see covered? Sound off in the comments!

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