Monday, 11 July 2011

In Which I am a n00bcaek

It's not been a great weekend; I missed 5 or 6 different appointments and parties and such, including my big weekend away, all because of the car breaking. But I managed to keep a relatively cheery disposition throughout, not wanting to let things out of my control get me down too badly. And then I got scammed last night, and my remaining hope sank; given full control over a situation, I still fucked it up, in a really stupid manner.

I've mentioned EVE Online before. It's a really great game, partly because it's just a massive PVP free-for-all. Nobody in the game ever has to be nice to you, and in fact the great majority will gladly kick you when you're down, if they can get away with it (or even if they can't). The fact that players work together cooperatively at all (let alone in massive alliances, thousands big) makes this a fascinating social experiment, even more interesting in that regard than one of my other favourite games, Diplomacy. But the point I'm convolutedly aiming for is that cases of physical violence in EVE are probably far outnumbered by cases of cons, scams and thefts. The variety of possible tricks is enormous, and I fell for one or two early on (none serious, unless you count my ship getting blown up by pirates as serious; there's a point where clever cons and violent vikings overlap), so I learned a lot very quickly and I'm much more familiar with the theory behind scams now than I was 3 years ago.

And last night I fell for one anyway.

I got an email from, asking me to confirm my application for an account there. It looked legit enough, with merely a "click here to activate your account" link and not asking for any further details. But it was addressed to "zhang," who I am not. And I hadn't applied for it. And I do not legally, artistically or nautically own any Blizzard products, and so wouldn't have wanted to apply for it.

The scam seemed fairly obvious: Guy applies for account on my address (and presumably also many others at the same time), relies on me to stupidly follow the legitimate confirmation email's request to "press button here," and sets the password on the account himself so that he can abuse it selling gold or whatever shitty excuses for in-game scams they have in WoW, with Blizzard unaware that he's the same guy they banned not two days ago for the same infractions. Simple, elegant, and probably reasonably effective, if you have a long enough database of random emails at your disposal. It certainly doesn't help that the confirmation email doesn't include, at any point, an option along the lines of "No! Abort! Cancel, cancel, cancel!"

So I had figured out the scam easily enough. The correct solution would have been to immediately delete the email and deny zhang access to the account he'd created. Presumably Blizzard automatically purge unconfirmed accounts after a while, and if not, oh noes I can't play WoW. Very easy.

But clearly it's been far too long since I last played EVE (55 days and counting *twitch*), because I did something stupid instead. I thought I'd be fancy and confirm the account, then swoop in to claim it for myself, probably deleting it immediately, just to show zhang I was onto him and could outsmart him. This did not work. Obviously zhang had used his own password for the account (which I expected), but I couldn't get past the "I've forgotten my password" page, because it requires your address (check), first name (check) and surname (fuck). The confirmation mail cleverly only sends you your own first name, assuming you know your surname if you're really you. There is a surnameless account option, which I probed, but apparently my zhang has a surname.

So zhang won this time. The real loss to me is very minor; virtually nil, I hope. But as a matter of principle, I don't like letting scammers win. Especially not when I can clearly see the con right from the start.