Psst! Hey, you! Want a royal pet? This Hissi oil potion'll do the trick--only one million NP! A bargain!
Oh Mr. Krawley, will you ever change?
Scammers trick you out of your possessions because they want to get rich or simply because they want to wreak havoc. From time to time, variations of popular scams will emerge. This article outlines the basic indicators of a scam so you know what to look out for.
Involving Items or Neopoints
Items that alter pets/petpets: Normally, when you want to change the appearance of your pet or petpet, you would use a paint brush. Pets can also be changed via morphing potions, transmogrification potions, magical toys, or magical plushies. There are other items, though, that possess this altering ability. A scammer might try to convince you to use those items by lying about their effect(s). In the case of Battledome items, it is not illegal to use Chia Flour or any other weapon in a fight. However, it does become a scam if someone lied and tricked you into a fight just so they could use the item on your prized pet or petpet. It's worth mentioning that this type of Battledome scam rarely happens; if you don't want to fight, you can block challenges or block the user that's Neomailing you.
Item effects: Perhaps the easiest way someone can con you out of your Neopoints is by convincing you that an item does something wonderful and awesome, when in reality, it doesn't. Let's see some examples:
FALSE: Gives you millions of Neopoints if you get it repaired.
TRUE: If you take it to Donny to get it repaired, the most you can get from it is 2,000 NP.
FALSE: Gives you infinite Neggs to keep.
TRUE: It's a Battledome item, so it'll only work there. When you use this in a fight, it'll give you three Basic Healing Neggs (each of which heal 5 hit points). You do not keep these Neggs once the fight is over.
FALSE: Grants you wishes.
TRUE: Wish sticks are knickknacks that don't do anything. The Magic Branch is a Battledome item and not a very good one at that.
FALSE: Can be redeemed at the Mystery Island Training School.
TRUE: Codestone plushies are just plushies. Only actual codestones are accepted for training.
FALSE: On Christmas Day, it'll be filled with goodies.
TRUE: It's just an empty pillow case. :P
FALSE: These Fading bottles can be redeemed for blessings at Aethia's shop in the Battledome.
TRUE: Fading Bottled Faeries can be mixed at the Cooking Pot to create Weak Bottled Faeries, but only Weak Bottled Faeries can be redeemed for Faerie Abilities in the new Battledome.
FALSE: Used to send rare items/contains rare items.
TRUE: It doesn't contain anything and you can't put anything in it. Seasonal Gift Box, on the other hand, can be opened by pets.
FALSE: Playing with rare plushies (especially Pirate Krawk Plushies) will magically transform your Neopet into that plushie's color and species.
TRUE: Only plushies with "Magical" in their name, such as Magical Pirate Krawk Plushies, will transform your pet.
FALSE: Can be used to paint your pets.
TRUE: Glass and Stone are discontinued colours. These two paint brushes do not do anything anymore. Now there are Ice and Relic pet colours if you want something that looks similar.
FALSE: Can be used to get the Pinatas & Candy! avatar.
TRUE: In order to get the avatar, you need a pinata that your pet can actually play with (i.e., one that's sold in the Toy shop). Furniture/NC/wearable items don't work.
Item appearance: Many items on Neopets look very similar but are different in every other aspect. If you're in a hurry, you might get tricked into buying the wrong thing. Be careful purchasing from a user shop where the background and font colours are the same, because that's often used to obscure the item's name. Can you tell the difference between the following items?
Item/Neopoint borrowing: This is discouraged by the staff who work at Neopets, but sometimes you might find yourself wanting to own an item for only a short period of time (so you can, for example, get an avatar). Lenders will ask for collateral, which is items/Neopoints roughly equal to the value of the thing you want to borrow (it should never be way more than what is being borrowed). You get your collateral back when the lender gets their item back. Make sure you both agree to the terms of the exchange.
Be careful when a lender wants you to split your offer. The Trading Post has a limit when it comes to the amount of NP you can put on one lot (currently it's 2,000,000 NP). If the item you're borrowing is worth more than that, a scammer will try to get you to offer the excess on a cheap item. They'll accept this trade but won't accept your other offer on the actual item you're trying to borrow and you end up paying for lousy junk. Only offer on the stuff you want to borrow, nothing else.
If someone asks you to lend them something, be aware of the item. Treasure maps (such as the Spooky Treasure Map) are one-use, meaning once you have all the pieces and claim your reward, the pieces will be used up, disappearing from your inventory. For the Secret Laboratory Map, one of your prizes will be entrance to the Secret Laboratory Ray, but this only applies to the account on which you redeem the map, so you cannot share/exchange access.
The Trading Post/Auction House: If you're looking to buy very valuable items, always use the Trading Post or Auction House. Just because someone's computer is slow or they want a quick trade doesn't mean you should start sending them stuff and hope they send the proper items in return.
Item/Neopoint pooling: This is where a group of users combine their resources in order to buy/obtain something or to get an avatar. Unfortunately, scammers have ruined this for everyone else and item/NP pooling is now not allowed, because inevitably, all of those things have to be sent to one person and more often than not, that person just runs off with everything.
Item duplication: If someone tells you to send them items so they can be duplicated, don't do it! There is no magical duplication machine. If there's a glitch that creates extras, simply report it to TNT, don't exploit it.
False inflation/deflation: There are circumstances where inflation or deflation is normal. If an item recently became retired or wearable then you'd expect prices to rise; conversely, if an item was given away through a sponsor or freebie event then you'd expect prices to fall rapidly. This is perfectly alright because the Neopets economy operates on a supply and demand basis.
Inflating/deflating things falsely and on purpose is considered a scam, though. How can you tell the difference? Here are some examples:
- Asking for 150,000 NP for an item, and then receiving and accepting an offer of 170,000 NP
Chain letters: These are nothing new, you might see them through e-mail, too. A chain letter says something like: "Copy and paste this message ten times to get a free item!" This is absolutely false and will not work on Neopets; all it does is clutter up message boards and it's a reportable offence.
Begging/asking for donations: This even happens with NC Mall items! Someone tells you a story about how they (or their friend) lost their account; they're trying to rebuild and would like some help in the form of donations. Not everyone who asks for charity is trying to scam you, but again, this has been abused so much by scammers that it's difficult to tell if someone's being genuine or not. Ultimately, donating is your decision, but don't give more than you can afford to lose.
Another scenario is where someone asks for a paint brush or Hidden Tower item because they got a faerie quest through a random event asking for that. Real faerie quests don't ask for rarity 101 or higher items.
With the introduction of the pet transfer system, some of the big problems that used to exist are now gone, but these scams managed to survive...
Fake "offer to beat" messages: OTB or Offer to Beat is the best offer that the trader has received so far. The problem is that some people will lie about this in order to get you to over-offer on a pet.
Pet trading (with extra add-ons): Pet trading means exchanging one pet for another pet. You're not allowed to ask for custom petpets, Battledome weapons, other items, accounts, or Neopoints to be tacked on to the trade as well.
Third party pet trading: You're in talks with someone about a trade and they want you to send your pet to them first, and the pet you want will be coming from their friend's side account. Trades like this make me nervous. Always talk to the account that owns the pet and make sure you both agree to the terms of the trade.
Lost pets in the Neopian Pound: One day, out of the blue, you get a message from another user saying they abandoned their pet by accident and saw that you adopted it from the Pound. Now they want their pet back. Again, it's difficult to tell if the person's telling the truth or not, but you do not have to give them the pet if you don't want to. When pets go in the Pound, they are up for grabs by others.
Contests, raffles, lotteries, etc. involving a Neopets item/NP/pet prize are against the rules, even in guilds. This didn't used to be forbidden, but too many scammers ruined it for the rest of us. *sigh* If you want to hold a contest, giving out a little graphic of a trophy is perfectly fine. Performing random acts of kindness and giving gifts out of the generosity of your heart is also fine.
1NP Neofriend only auctions: You see this fantastic auction going on but unfortunately, you must be the person's Neofriend in order to place a bid on it, so you contact them and they say they'll only befriend you if you buy some items from them. This is a common trick to get you to buy junk without letting you participate in the auction at all. Auctions should never have an entry fee imposed by the seller.
Enter to win a rare item...by buying these junk items! I think this is self-explanatory. Shop contests aren't allowed so entry fees are certainly not allowed either.
Fake answers to contests: I haven't seen any instances of this, but TNT considers purposely giving out false answers to the Lenny Conundrum, Mystery Pic, or other competitions as a scam. It's deceiving others so you can benefit.
Covering up vital information: You're not allowed to use HTML, CSS, or images to cover up or misrepresent important information on your user lookup, pet lookup, shop, guild, or gallery. This includes your "Started Playing" date, your active avatar, the colour/species of your pet(s), pet stats, active petpets, trophies you've earned, and items in your shop/gallery.
Changing your private information: "Hey, if you change your password to [a phrase/word], you'll get free stuff or an avatar!" Not true!! Never ever change your password or e-mail to something specified by another user. Nothing on Neopets requires you to do this; you'd only be handing over your account to the scammer!
"Free" accounts: A user is leaving Neopets and they're giving their account away. This is completely against the rules--users cannot sell, share, borrow/lend, or give away accounts. Why is this so bad and what could possibly happen? For one, if you use similar passwords across all of your accounts, the scammer could wait until you enter the account and change the password (but not the e-mail), then they'd use the lost login information retrieval form to e-mail that password to themselves. Or they could turn around and report you as a scammer and then you'd be the one being punished.
Impersonating someone else: Some scammers will create accounts that have similar usernames to popular celebrities or someone famous on Neopets. Then they'll pretend to be that person in order to get donations from others.
Letting someone else into your account: There's this trophy or avatar that you really, really want but it involves a game that you can't master. Someone offers to play for you and doesn't ask for anything in return. Would you accept? I hope you answered "no" because accepting would be the equivalent of willingly inviting burglars into your house.
Buying virtual Neopets goods from third party sites with real money: Yes, there are sites out there that are not run by Neopets that sell Neopets items/Neopoints/pets/accounts for actual money and yes, this is illegal. This is not to be confused with the selling of Neocash cards or plushies on online auction sites--those are okay. The bad sites sell virtual items, such as Draik Eggs and paint brushes. On certain occasions, the site itself is a scam and just takes your money without sending anything. But let's say the transaction was fulfilled. You are now part of an endless scamming cycle. One of the ways those sites maintain their stock/inventory is by cheating/stealing from innocent users and even from their previous customers. TNT will chain freeze people who break the rules and buy from these places.
How to Defend Yourself
Knowledge is Power
A little bit of research goes a long way. You can tell if someone's misrepresenting their account information by right-clicking on the user/pet lookup and selecting "View Page Source." When checking prices, start with the shop wizard (keep refreshing the results page to see if there are better deals out there). If you don't find anything, search the Trading Post and auctions.
Here are some more tips/resources if you can't separate fact from fiction:
- Break down your question into key words and put those into search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
- Ask the people on the Neoboards (the Help board is a great place to start, and you might even meet Jellyneo staff member Dream!)
- Ask people you trust (fellow guildmates, Neofriends, etc.)
- Check fan sites (utilise the site search, Item Database, and Editorial Database)
Spreading the Word
Message boards, Neomail, the Trading Post, user shops, etc. all have convenient links to an abuse report form; however, please only report the user if you are certain that they are scamming or breaking the rules. "I heard they were scamming through a friend of a friend" isn't really concrete proof.
You can also help spread the word by posting alerts/warnings on the Neoboards, but please only do this if you are 100% sure they are scamming. If the scam involved a link, some programming code, or the abuse of a glitch, don't repeat the details because it might cause a misunderstanding between you and the site monitors.
In addition, don't harass scammers, get into conflicts with them, threaten them, encourage others to threaten them, etc. Sending a report to TNT is often enough.
- Be aware of Neopets account rules (see the Terms and Conditions)
- If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is!
- Always use the proper channels--when exchanging items, use the Trading Post; when exchanging pets, use the official pet transfer page.
- Borrow/lend items at your own risk.
- Shop around or wait for deals on items. When using the shop wizard, refresh your search results until you get the best price.
- When buying an item from another user, double check the name, image, and description. If you're going through the Trading Post, check the rarity as well and only offer on the item you want to get.
- You cannot pool your items/NP together with other users.
- When trading pets, it must be one pet for another pet (there cannot be any extra add-ons). Talk to the account that owns the pet you want, make sure you agree on the terms of the trade.
- Never pay another user in order to participate in an auction or contest.
- Keep your private information safe. Nothing on Neopets requires you to change your password or e-mail to a specific word or phrase. Do not give out private information on the Neoboards or to other users, even if they promise you "free" Neopets items/NP.
- Do not accept "free" accounts from others--it's against the rules.
- Make use of the Neoboards, fan sites, or search engines if you need help with prices, a rumour, or an item's effect.
Officer! Officer! That thief stole... my heart! ;-;
This article was written by: Illy