Recently, I wrote about a scam involving selling Spectral Tiger Mounts, but I never thought I would be able to actually interview the guy responsible. Luckily, this particular scammer was willing to discuss the scam candidly with my husband and I. He ended being very like a Ferengi in his attitude toward what he calls "business". Here is the story.
Late last night, The Spousal Unit saw someone spamming Trade Chat, supposedly offering a Spectral Tiger Mount for sale. Since he knew two people that had been scammed by this, he called the seller a scammer in Trade Chat. The scammer sent him a tell and they proceeded to debate the issue in whispers. TSU called me over to show me the conversation, so of course I had to log on and pursue the interview further. Following are both interviews, copied over from in-game whispers.
The Spousal Unit: lol bulls***
Scammer: Are you just going to say that every time I post?
Okie. Doesn't matter, I still get whispers lol
Probably. A lot a stupid people out there. Lots of suckers for you.
I know. So why try and ruin my business?
Because it's dishonest? Scamming gamers out of their stuff?
It's not dishonest. It's wrong. I'm being completely honest
Orly? You're really giving them a tiger mount?
Who knows how long they'll keep it, but yeah I give them a mount :P
Well, whatever you gotta do to justify it to yourself, I guess.
That sentence doesn't make sense. I don't need to justify myself. What I need is gold. You know any idiots by chance?
Sure it does, unless you don't care about ripping people off.
I don't care. It's their own fault if they're that stupid.
So do you just recycle the scam with different people's accounts as you get them?
Yes, I get an account, use their account to scam, and rinse and repeat. Right now, I unfortunately have no accounts.
Are you the same dude doing [this] across different servers. Or is there like a cartel?
No, there's a lot of us.
This is where I started sending him whispers from my druid.
Robin: Hi. My name is Robin Torres. May I please interview you for WoW.com? Anonymously, of course.
Scammer: Sure. (He declined an email interview, but agreed to continue via whispers.)
Do you work for a company?
Are you a part of a loose organization of people?
Not really an organization. Lots of us around. The companies use a lot more complex scams: keyloggers, emails, etc. Most of us have our own thing. Then we sell to companies. People who are good at it get hired. Well, people who make an incredible income. I've only made about 70K through a week's work.
So how do you conduct the transaction? (At this point I was unaware that this was actually the scammer who hacked my friend.)
I just email them an email -- [it] looks pretty official -- and within, there's a hyperlink and you can figure the rest out. :P
You've only been doing this a week?
How do you get hooked up with a gig like that?
I set it up myself. Who are your readers, if I might ask?
The readers of WoW.com. I wrote an article about the scam this week. The article is called Beware of Blood Elves selling mounts.
I'm not a Blood Elf.
LOL no, but it was a Blood Elf who scammed the guy I wrote about.
You're putting this on the official WoW.com? You're ruining my business. :P
WoW.com used to be WoWInsider.com. Look it up. The article is on there now.
(I told him how to access it quickly. There was a long pause while he looked it up.)
LMFAO That article you wrote was about me. You got the numbers wrong, though. "But wait! There's more! As I write this, Cobra's account got hacked again. Not only did the phishing site take his old account info, it downloaded a keylogger to steal the new account info." Lies.
Then how did you get back in?
He didn't change [his] password.
Fishers aren't related with keyloggers. Keyloggers need to be downloaded, unattached from an email, something had to be opened: a movie, something. None of that ever happened. [It's] his own fault.
So do you do this on multiple servers?
Yes, I do this all over.
What do you do if there is an Authenticator on the account?
Most people have taken off their Authenticators because the hacking rate went down. 50+ accounts, 0 Authenticators so far.
That's sad. Do you have a way to get around the Authenticator?
Actually yes. For the very FIRST login, I can get around it. So I have to change the password then or make a quick clean sweep of the account.
Ah, how do you do it?
Just enter the Authenticator code they put into my site.
Do you sell to US or Chinese companies?
How do you develop contacts with the companies you sell the gold to?
Sorry, that's not info to give out. I don't ruin other people's business. :P
Ah, honor among thieves. Do you feel bad about what you do?
Nah, I don't screw with their gear or anything. I get gold, mats, and gone. I could turn into a real hacker: delete characters, items, transfer servers, but nah. And gold and mats can get restored within hours.
Another friend fell for this on another server and his main character was deleted. So that wasn't you?
Yeah, I don't delete other characters. [It] had to be someone else.
Are you at all afraid of getting shutdown by Blizzard?
They have before. I unplugged my router for 5 minutes, plugged it back in, tada all fixed. Now, just so I don't waste 5 minutes of my day, I run behind a wall. This wall sends out millions of IPs a second, never giving my true [one]. Like, right now, if Blizz shutdown my IP, I could immediately log back in, without a scratch.
Were you running different scams previous to this one?
Nope. This is my first ever scamming. Actually, the only reason I got into this is because someone tried hacking me, so I got them back, then moved on. LOL There's less than 100 of us out there right now, but the number jumped from 5 to 78 so far this week. People are learning.
So, how long do you think you'll be able to do this?
Forever. There's no stop. As long as people keep falling for easy s***, I will never be shut down. I, am the real napster. How do I post a comment on wow.com? I want to post that that one was me! LOL (I told him how, but as of this writing, he has not done so. UPDATE: He's here and he's commenting.)
When you say you made 70,000. Is that gold?
Yes. $5 = 1000g. Do the math. :P
Thank you so much for talking to me.
I can't tell you how embarrassed I am for my friend who re-used his old password when he got his account back. But use this as a warning. I know it's hard to remember different passwords, but once you've been hacked, you can never use that password again. For anything. Ever. As despicable as this scam is, this scammer actually seems to have a code that he follows. Other hackers won't do that and will try to use your username and password in other places -- email, online banking -- wherever they can make a buck. And just because you don't have much, either in your WoW account or in real life, doesn't mean you won't be a target. As you can see, your account and identity is still useful to scam others.
Some of my friends and commenters have, in fact, legitimately purchased rare items legally and for reasonable prices in-game. But while there may be legitimate Spectral Tiger Mount sellers, still be extra cautious of any deal that seems too good to be true. Follow some basic account security at a minimum and, when available, get yourself an Authenticator or the free software for your iPhone ASAP. It's an extra step, but it's well worth it for when we make mistakes.
Be careful out there!