I’m a moderator of the haulers channel. If you’ve ever had to get something moved in highsec (or low), or had to get things out of npc nullsec, chances are you’ve used the service or at least heard of us - we’re akin to pushX and red frog in that we get things moved, the major difference being it’s more a free market anyone can engage with than a single entity with set prices. We try to be a friendly and welcoming community for anyone that needs to use, uses or is interesting in using the courier contract system. Naturally, that also involved removing scammers - from our channel, from our mailing list, and adding to the pretty much required-for-hauling-today safelist (https://goo.gl/WurcE2) that shows scam structures and scam/gank issuers. We try to educate haulers and issuers that are new as to how the mechanics work.
This corp/alliance (mission ready mining/fly fearless) showed up on one of the mod’s radars as they were posting scams. The only thing that was unusual was that this wasn’t just a few structures by a handful of scammers (one character and a few alts is very common). No, instead we ended up adding 60+ alts just the first day, as well as a dozen or so structures, all involved in current scams or owning structures for said scams. Most of these were ex-members of fly fearless, most were about the same age and joined or left around the same time - it’s rather obvious at least 90% of this giant corp with seemingly very little activity are alts, probably current SP farm alts or just from back when ghost training was a thing (it would explain the thousands of characters).
Despite what Merin Ryskin above me says, there’s not a single succesful hauler who “likes” citadel scams as they are currently. Scams are part of the game, yes, but as is there is a game mechanic that forces one player to lose ISK to another player with no clear in-game way to differentiate between legitimate or illegitimate. We’ve seen characters put out 10-12 contracts to their own structure with alts to appear legitimate, or use actual legitimate contracts only to then make big cash. There simply isn’t a way to avoid these completely, long term. And once a courier contract is accepted, despite it being a game mechanic that’s meant to enforce an activity between two players… one side can simply press a button to break the contract and automatically get whatever ISK sum they set as collateral, usually in exchange of an empty container (and you can’t see it’s just a container before the contract, either). It’s not “crying about how you’re too stupid to succeed in eve”, it’s an issue with unclear and unfair game mechanics with insufficient tools against them available in the game.
There’s industrial scale scamming starting to show more and more, and the tools that allow people to avoid it are simply lacking. Ignoring structures could be a good idea since it takes time/effort to set up structures and move them regularly - scams should at least take some effort, akin to a bait contract that you gank the hauler of. Lacking that, at least the number of people you can ignore contracts from should go up so that a few people with 400 alts won’t make current haulers literally unable to keep scammers off their screen. The citadel drop box is also something that’s been requested by pretty much all haulers since EC’s were put in the game (which was 2 years ago!) due to how their mechanics allow scams with zero effort or risk - it would be good if CCP’s oversight in that finally got fixed in the end.
To those not aware of courier contract mechanics: imagine if you bought an MWD from someone on the market. You put this on your ship, go flying and then your ship instantly explodes with no way to avoid it - turns out the seller of the item had done something you had no way to tell after you used the game mechanic (purchasing). On top of this, them doing this cost them no time or ISK, it’s a free item to them that they sold for your ISK. The seller is known for doing this and you don’t get any proper way of filtering them out permanently - they’ll just make another alt and continue after a few days/weeks of doing it.
Does that sound like a fair mechanic, or engaging gameplay? That’s largely how courier contracting works now: if you engage in the game mechanic, you need an out of game blacklist/communication from other haulers and a reliable ignore method ingame to avoid scams. As Dyver Phycad has posted, the former has been an ongoing issue (that i frankly don’t know if CCP will fix anymore, it’s been two years) and the latter is quickly looking to be simply not good enough in today’s alt-frenzy eve. Scams are good to have in the game. Zero risk scams that also take absolutely no effort are not. Even the people spamming scam item contracts in jita local are needing to put in actual time and effort. Traditional scams with a gank squad run the risk of the hauler taking an odd route or otherwise slipping by. Pure profit without risk, at the expense of guaranteed loss for other entirely unrelated players that had no way to know, is simply a bad mechanic to have in eve. If we can’t have a solution to the actual problem, at least make the tools be able to deal with said problem.
As a sidenote, those that say “just don’t take citadel contracts” need to take a look at the state of the game. By CCP’s own numbers 90% of industry happens in structures. The main things that require hauling via courier contracts are industry and trading - as well as people needing something moved one-off. Trading is still mainly between stations, but both other parts involve structures a lot of the time. Not hauling to any structures is akin to ratting with only one weapon in your high slots, mining all day in a mining barge with no boost and low skills, or running lvl 2 security missions for isk. Sure, you can do it… but you’re missing out big time. CCP has seen fit to ensure people use these structures with nice bonuses. As a result, people use them and you can’t ignore them permanently without cutting your own potential vastly short.
This turned out into a rather long post, but seeing the usual CODE messing about happening in here (hi, cohenberg. Do these scam alts happen to be yours? What about Bayley, an obvious alt with 16m read time on this forum? :P) i figured i’d provide my two cents. Okay, i guess it turned into a dollar, but you get the idea.