DISCLAIMER: The information in this article is based on experimental research conducted by the community, and may contain inaccuracies and speculation. While we strive for accuracy in these articles, we make no claims of experimental rigor or unbiased conclusions. Caveat lector.
This article is part of GuildWiki's Common scams information.
Detailed trade scam listing
Trade scams involve trading between two or more players. Trade scams all rely on the scammer confusing you into believing him over the game window. Remember this important rule: the game window is always right! Also, do not press Accept on the Trade Window until you have fully read the descriptions of all items in it.
Minipet/Birthday Present Scams
Miniatures are most commonly obtained form Birthday Presents, although there are a number of other sources as well. Presents from Wintersday festivals and Boardwalk Prizes from the Shing Jea Boardwalk look very similar to Birthday Presents, and players may try to scam you by selling one of the festival presents as a Birthday Present. Besides the obvious difference in name, they have different colors as well: Wintersday Presents are green with a red ribbon and Boardwalk Prizes are red with a yellow ribbon. Birthday Presents are always blue with a yellow ribbon.
Players may also attempt to sell certain minipets for much more than they are actually worth. This is especially true of the Grey Giant, Asura, and Pig miniatures: although they are "gold" items, they are in fact quite common.
- The Grey Giant and Asura were obtainable through codes printed in issues of PC Gamer and other gaming magazines, and although limited to one per account, they are about as common as most white miniatures.
- The Pig was a festival reward for the Canthan New Year 2007 event, and as it was possible to easily obtain multiple copies of this miniature, it is probably the most common miniature currently in the game. However, during Canthan New Year 2008, many Pig miniatures were exchanged for Celestial Pig miniatures at a rate of 5:1, thus removing a large number of the Pigs from the game.
The seller will submit nothing on his side of the trade, and when you ask him about it, he'll claim to be "bugged," and that he actually submitted the item you were trying to buy from him. While it is entirely possible to be bugged in trade, it is not possible to be bugged in this way. If the trader claims to be bugged, ask him to relog, and do the same yourself. If he resists or refuses, or if the problem doesn't go away, he is a scammer, and you should not trade with him.
A variation of this has been seen where Assassins may say that their trade window doesn't work and that they can't see the item. They then ask you to go out and put your item on the ground so they may see it. Once you do as they say, they'll teleport right next to you, and steal your items before you can pick them up (using Recall to shadow step to your location). Never place items intended to trade on the ground. Now with the release of Eye of the North, non-assassins can use Ebon Escape to shadow step to you.
Bait and Switch
Often, scammers will submit an item that is not what you agreed upon. However, this is likely to get the scammer caught, so they will make sure that you're in a hurry first. They will usually do this by repeatedly closing the trade window in the middle of the trade, and claiming he's "glitched", until eventually, you're hitting accept as fast as possible to outrace the "glitch." When he finally submits an item, it's junk that you don't want, and because you are not thinking and in a hurry, you hit accept anyway. To increase the chances of you not noticing, the scammer will if possible switch the bait for an item with an identical trade window skin. For example, Malinon's Shield, a green and rare shield, looks exactly like a Shield of the Wing in the trade window.
Another common version of this scam is to advertise an "uberitem" for a very low price as bait, then offer a junk item alongside it and ask you if you want to buy the junk as well - for about ten times what it's worth. When you say no, they will remove the extra item and switch out the bait at the same time. You can spot this form of the scam by watching the number of offered items; if it increases to three or falls to zero, you are almost assuredly being scammed.
The most dangerous forms of this latter scam occur when the total price goes over 100k. Often the scammer will offer a good item worth about 25k for only half what it's worth. This tempts you to buy because even though you don't want to pay 25k over the odds for the second item you're still saving 10 or 15k on the one you do want. However, this gives the scammer a clear window to make the switch without any chance to observe the change in numbers. He will often offer to trade a piece of 15k armor or a full set of Drok's armor alongside the second item, then give you the other item in a second trade for 10k plus the armor. Even if you catch the trade scam, he's already up 75k or more on the second item - more than enough to replace his armor and still make a healthy profit.
Due to a new update just released, you will be informed by a message bar if an item is added, removed, or switched out for another, making this scam type less potent.
This is a general area of scamming which involves advertising an item, and, when the seller actually puts the item in the trade window, trading something else. This could be offering Silver Dye as Black Dye, offering an item with +2 Energy with health above 50% as being +2 Energy always, or simply advertising a weapon as being max damage when it is a few points under maximum damage. Take note that certain modifiers, such as +% Damage, will appear to be "always" if the modifier includes - armor while attacking. Unlike the location of the modifier "while health is", which is located directly adjacent to the bonus, the -armor modifier can be listed lower then other stats.
Many scammers will actually have the advertised item, will show it to you in the Trade Window but then quickly close it (with the excuse of "oops" or showing it to another customer). When the trade window is reopened, the fake item is now in place. This scam still works, even with the new 'item switch warning' update.
Platinum vs Gold
In offering to buy an item, the scammer quickly switches from an offer of platinum to gold, hoping to fool the seller. For example, a scammer may agree to pay 7 platinum for black dye. When the trade window opens he 'mistakenly' offers 8 platinum. Seeing the chance to make an extra piece of platinum, the seller eagerly clicks "accept". The scammer then says something like "Oops, sorry" and changes his offer to 7 gold, hoping that the seller won't notice the change from platinum to gold. Make sure you carefully check the final offer before you accept the trade.
A possible scam is where an amount for an item is agreed upon and that amount is a decimal in platinum (referred to as "k") is faked. This is done by using the decimal as just gold not the full amount. Such as offering 1.5k for an item but offering 1 platinum and 5 gold which is NOT the same as the agreed 1 platinum and 500 gold. The scammer hopes that the other person is in a hurry and will not catch this. The hope is that the victim will be thinking "1.5k" and won't notice the difference of 495 gold. Remember, 1 platinum = 1000 gold and 0.5 of a platinum = 500 gold. Although the maximum amount of gold you can lose to this scam is less than 1 platinum and might not directly affect rich players, new players that just bought the game or poor players will feel the effects of it. Another way the scammer can fool you with decimals is by adding a decimal in front of the amount of money so that 15k can become 15 gold by saying .015
Some scammers use distraction items, such as lower value minipets or single ectos to distract you from the type of coin they offer. For example, when asking 80k for an item, beware people who offer 70k plus a mini hydra, or 73k plus an ecto. They often offer the item and gold instead of the item plus platinum.
Note: this scam is unlikely now that the trade window displays gold instead of gold/platinum. Now, one platinum displays as 1,000 gold
After successfully completing a trade with the scammer, they quickly put up the exact same trade. Although you did purchase the original items, the scammer has multiple instances of all the items in their inventory, and immediately offers the same thing to you again. Thinking that the trade was cancelled for some reason, you put up the money again and effectively purchase the same items twice. This scam is usually done by a player selling weapon modifications, but it can also be done with any other item. The most common places to find this scam are in areas with a high amount of 'spam', such as District 1 of Lion's Arch, where you're less likely to see the message telling you the trade was successful.
This is a broad category of scams, but they all have the same scam element: the scammer will have you trade him an item or money, in return for an item or money he (or some other scammer) will supposedly trade you right back. This often takes the form of the three-way trade. The scammer says "I have Item A, which this guy here wants. I want Item B, which you have. And you want Item C, which this guy here has. So, you give me Item B, I'll give him Item A, and he'll give you Item C." Of course, as soon as you part with your Item B, they both leave or log off.
Another variant of this scam is where one player says something along the lines of "WTB: Ecto 15k". His partner is nearby, deliberately ignoring him, and advertising "WTS: Ecto 10k". Even though the price of the ecto is too high, there is a 5k profit to be made from trading the ecto between them. If you buy from the first player you'll find yourself in a sticky situation as they both log off suddenly, leaving you several thousand gold down (depending on ecto prices). The most dangerous part of this is that it is not considered a scam by ArenaNet.
If you agree to buy an item from another player for over 100k, simply paying in straight cash for the item will not work, since a character can only hold at most 100k on their person. Most trades will use Globs of Ectoplasm or Zaishen Keys as a money substitute for any additional cost of the item. Armbrace of Truth may also be used for some high-end trades. Sometimes other high-value items, such as Rubies, Sapphires, or even desired miniatures may also work.
All-cash trades using multiple transactions are much more likely to be a scam. In general, using the additional money to buy Ectoplasm is preferable to attempting to pay in cash. If a player refuses to take alternate forms of payment, they may be planning to take the first 100k and leave you with nothing. If such a trade is unavoidable or both parties prefer it, taking a high-value, customized item as collateral can ensure a safe transaction. The items should, ideally, cost them around 100k to replace, while giving you little value if you kept it. Elite armor sets or rare weapons (only if customized) work well for this. This gives both parties a strong incentive to finish the transaction.
NCsoft support will block anyone's account who tries to scam in this way, but some scammers are willing to trade their dummy low-level accounts for your gold and they will tell you, "I will get banned if I take your money away". Do not trust anyone unless they are not willing to have their account banned for tens of thousands of gold.
You will sometimes see advertisements for goods that are not obtainable in Guild Wars. Examples include: accounts in other MMORPGs such as Runescape, entire Guild Wars or Factions accounts or real world money. Recently there have been some instances of people offering to ascend your character for you at Augury Rock. Almost every single one of these trades are against the EULA or the Code of Conduct that players agree to before playing Guild Wars (and, if trading for a different game account, the respective game's EULA,) not to mention that most of these trades are vectors for abuse.
Note: never "lend" your Guild Wars account to anyone.
Unidentified "Gold" Salvage Items
You will sometimes see advertisements for unidentified gold salvage items such as a gold Avicara Fierce Vest and the like. The salvage system allows a user to salvage a rune from such salvage items, and there is a chance that the base salvage item will be preserved after the rune is removed. This salvage item will still be flagged as "Unidentified" even though the rune has been stripped out of it.
Note: this scam is less likely, since now all items break if they're salvaged while unidentified, however some old stripped gold items may remain.
New Player Ignorance
Many scammers will try to take advantage of new players who do not know the market prices of most items for sale. Often, these scammers will go to cities that are full of new players, such as Ascalon City or Kamadan, and offer "good items" for sale for more than they are worth, but still within reach of someone who recently started playing the game. This is a very common scam and can involve almost any kind of item. For example, a Murakai's Reaver is a very nice looking axe with highly sought-after mods, and a new player may think that it's worth a lot and give the scammer all the money they have for it, not realizing that this is an "over-farmed" item that often is sold for 1 or even given away for free. One way to try to avoid this kind of scam is to simply ask in All-chat about the average value of the item you are trying to purchase before you make the trade, usually someone will reply.