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Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Marketplace Fraud

Just when you think that you've seen it all, someone comes up with yet another nefarious scheme.

This one takes advantage of LL's policy of tracking down transactions made with fraudulent $L or by phishers who have gained access to a person's account through trickery.

Here's how it works.

  • The scammer creates two accounts, Avatar A and Avatar B (or, there may be two scammers working as a team.)
  • Avatar A purchases an item on the Marketplace, and sends it to Avatar B as a gift.  He may do this several times, hitting a number of merchants, or buying multiple things from one merchant.
  • Avatar A then files a support case with Linden Lab, claiming his account was stolen and that the transactions were not made by him.
  • Linden Lab investigates.  If they ask Avatar B if they know Avatar A, who sent them a gift, Avatar B says, "No, I don't know him...I have no idea why he sent me a gift."  This supports Avatar A's claim that he didn't make the purchases, it must have been someone who stole his account.

Linden Lab then takes the money that Avatar A paid to the merchant back from the merchant, and returns it to Avatar A.  They tell the merchant, "we reversed the payment because it was a fraudulent transaction."

So, in the end, Avatar A pays nothing, Avatar B has some nice freebies, and the merchant is stiffed.

LL takes this stance because most merchants who sell their creations on the Marketplace have an unlimited supply...so according to their logic, the merchant isn't really harmed.  But this is not true; the merchant IS harmed, in at least one of two ways.

In all cases, a free copy of his creation, which ought to have been paid for, is now out there in the world.  And if the merchandise is a limited edition or one-of-a-kind item, he is also robbed of the item itself, as well as the payment he should have received.

I have always had my reservations about the Marketplace, for many reasons.  This is just another one to add to the scales.  Sure, I think the MP is a great place for creators who only sell a few items, or who are just starting out and can't afford to pay for land for an in-world store.  But as soon as you can, you really should set up a store in world.  It's a lot safer, as well as a lot more fun.

I hope that Marketplace merchants will be on the lookout for this latest scam, and carefully report instances of it to Linden Lab.

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