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  • "falcotron" started this thread

Posts: 511

Location: San Francisco

Occupation: Programmer/Musician

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Friday, March 5th 2010, 1:29am

A way to deal with fraud

This is sort of a meta-suggestion--a (possible) way to make Tiberjoe's suggestion of letting sitters purchase tix, or my/davie's suggestion of official in-game tix transfers, or various other solutions actually work.

The short version is this: If you receive a fraudulent ticket, and should have known something was up, and they can't catch the real criminal, you're the one who gets punished. You can avoid that by noticing that something's up and alerting the admins before they figure it out, in which case you're not going to get punished.

I'd like to know whether this would be acceptable to most of the players. If so, I think Demon Stabber should look it over and decide whether it's worth pushing to the GAS higher-ups.

Now, the long version:

The problem with all of the solutions so far is that they don't stop all avenues of fraud.

I don't know exactly what people did, but I can imagine at least one thing people could do, which would not be stopped by any of these suggestions. This is clearly criminal fraud, and people do get caught and sent to jail for it--and yet, people do try it, and some of them get away with it, and GAS is probably usually left holding the bag whether or not they get caught.

Here's one thing I could do:
  • Get a debit card, with no real identifying information, with $50 on it.
  • Create a new email address.
  • Create a PayPal account, linked to that debit card and email address with false information.
  • Create a level-1 multi.
  • Buy $50 worth of tix with that multi using that PayPal account.
  • Give those tix to you as payment for mercing/making me an avatar/etc.
  • Wait until you've used the tix, and delete the multi.
  • Wait a few more weeks, and reverse the payment with PayPal.
  • As soon as I get the money back, spend everything on the debit card.
  • Cancel the debit card and the PayPal account.
By the time PayPal figures out something is up, they have no way to track me down. GAS is out $6, and they have no idea who to punish.

The first step toward a solution is to make it obvious--both to the admins when they investigate, and to you when you receive payment--where the ticket came from. Then, in cases where the transaction was obviously suspicious, if they can't track down who was responsible, punish the person who received the ticket.

Is it fair that you should get punished when I committed the crime? I think so. I hired you as a merc, and then asked you to accept a ticket from some level-1 you'd never heard of. You knew, or should have known, that this was a multi, and I was at least involving you in cheating, if not outright fraud. This is very similar to receiving stolen goods in real life. Even if you didn't know that I'd stolen them, you knew you were colluding with some kind of crime, and, as a result, you are guilty of a crime. If you're lucky, the cops will just confiscate the stolen property with no reimbursement, but they could even drag you off to jail. So, why should the standards in the game be any different from in real life?

Tiberjoe's sitter idea works brilliantly for this. It's impossible for you to say with a straight face that you had no idea something fishy was going on when you appointed that level-1 as your sitter. And the rules already say that if you appoint someone as your sitter and he hoses you in any way, that's your own fault for trusting him, so if he sticks you with the penalty for fraudulent tix, it's the same as anything else he could have done to you.

The official ticket transfer would also work with this, as long as it clearly tells you where the ticket is coming from. If I agree to pay you a ticket, and you get that ticket from someone else you've never heard of, you ought to know something is up.

And I'm sure plenty of other mechanisms would work just as well.

The problem is that there are some borderline cases that could occasionally come up. Say I'm a level-25 clan commander, and I take over a level-30 account, and I continue playing both of them. I pay all my mercs from that level-25 account, figuring that eventually they'll catch me and punish the level-25 account, but I still have a much better account to keep using, so who cares? As far as you can tell, that level-25 is a legit account, probably a higher-up in my clan. Is it acceptable to punish you in that case?

Well, it depends on whether you knew what I was up to, and that's a judgment call that the admins will have to make. I assume that the directive from above will be, "Try your hardest to find the real culprit, but make sure _someone_ always gets punished, period." And yes, sometimes they'll get it wrong.

But I think that's an acceptable cost, at least compared to the alternative of nobody ever being able to transfer tickets.

Oh, and in the case where you do know something is up, you have an option to make sure you're not the one who gets screwed over--cooperate with the admins. If I ask you to let someone else sit your account, or send you a ticket from a different account, or whatever, take the ticket, don't spend it yet, and send a support message asking the admins to check whether it's valid and telling them who you made the deal with. Then, they either tell you, "It's fine" and you can spend it knowing you're in the clear, or they bust the crook and, yeah, maybe you did end up mercing without getting paid, but that's not all that tragic.
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