The Resurgence of Petty Crime in Runescape

posted by on 1st May 2011, at 2:37am

When walking through the Grand Exchange, it is a common sight to see player “doubling money”, or offering other “trust games”. It is easily seen that these actions are indeed scams, but until recently their kind had not been seen in many years. However, these scams are more popular than ever, and show a shift in the focus of crime in Runescape.

Scams have been around since about the beginning of Runescape, even as far back as Runescape Classic. For as many players who go around legitimately earning money, there are just as many trying to do it illegitimately. There were many different tactics used back then, cutting edge at the time, that are outdated now. Since scams had been around for so long, players eventually got used to the tactics used by the people trying to scam them. Of course there were exceptions in the cases of new ones thought up, but for the most part, the victims of scamming were mostly new players who did not know about them. That all changed when Jagex removed the ability to exchange large different sums of money or items.

When Jagex removed free trade, they restricted the ability for players to trade items and money. They could only trade within a certain gold piece amount, which was determined by a number of factors. The amount was up to 30,000gp at first, but in later increased substantially more. These restrictions made it all but impossible to scam people for any good amount of money, so the industry all but died out. It instead took the form of more white-collar crime, through such things as price fixing, and merchanting clans. A few players could make much money through the misdirection of many other players. This was less direct rule-breaking than traditional scamming, and therefore not much could be done about it. There were many new players signed up during this time of restriction, never knowing the ways of being scammed from the past. This lack of knowledge gave fresh market to people who took the opportunity to scam all these un-educated players when Jagex removed the trade restrictions.

In February of 2011, Jagex removed the trade restrictions that had controlled the economy for many years. While having many advantages, it also had many drawbacks as well. One of those was the return of scamming. Players will offer to “double money” or “round-off money”, or play various other trust games to try to get other players to give them coins or other items, which they can take. However, some new ideas have come out of the newest removal of the restrictions that weren’t seen in the older days, and that is gambling.

If gambling was around in the old days of free trade, then it was not near as common as it is today. It involves a bit of trust, for the better must give money to the person who is running the game, but the lure of better rewards usually prevails over this caution. In games like the “flower game”, players will give money to a person claiming to double, triple, sometimes give out cash 5x more than the person bets. This can go off fairly legitimately, however there have of course been cases where it has been a scam instead of just gambling. The point that can be taken is a shift from the more white-collar crime from the days of trade restriction, back to the more petty crime that was in the old days of free trade.

It is much easier for a player to scam someone than to set up a merchanting clan. This does not mean that the crime is more common these days, or that there were not many people trying to make a dishonest wage in the days with trade restrictions. With merchanting clans, there were a few people at the top saying what items to buy and sell, which would fill their coffers, but there were also legions of players following their commands, to try to assist in the price-fixing as well. The players who did this of course weren’t really breaking any rules, just following what was said, but they were playing with fire. It was not uncommon for a player to get stuck with a mass amount of a worthless item, because of the greed of the people organizing the clan. In these new days of free trade, the people scamming are more in business for themselves. This means they have to participate in direct rule-breaking, which risks being banned. Therefore, people who are scamming other players are less common than those who would participate in the merchanting clans.

Scams and other various dishonest actions by players to get another players money or items is an idea that is as old as Runescape itself. There will always be people trying to benefit from the misdirection or outwitting of other players, so it is important to be on the lookout. Of course it will take time for players to get used to the usual scams, and with time, the game may return to a state where scamming is not very common because everyone is used to the games. However, one must always be cautious about what people say, and always take everything with a grain of salt. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Petty crime like this has always existed in Runescape, and probably always will, but only though education about the problem can it be avoided. Watchfulness on the part of player will ultimately determine whether or not these players will succeed in their crime.

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