I screwed up pretty miserably.
I re-initiated my eve career after a break of 7 years. My favorite activity as casual solo player is trading/hauling between regions.
It took some hours to work my way up from 12 Mio ISK to 26 Mio ISK and I felt like I am back on track. When I turned my back to EVE back in the days, I had lost quite a bit of money after having owned about 300 Mio. ISK in my prime.
Then I smuggled contraband.
I know (now) how stupid that was. I have a faint recall of having done this in my earliest days 7 years ago, too. Going from Gallente space to Caldari space with small arms is not a good idea.
There is a warning - which is nice. It says the good I am carrying is illegal. I don’t know why exactly, but I thought: Ah f*** it, let’s try and see what happens!
And this is what happened:
During a short intervall, a fine of 28 Mio ISK got deducted from my wallet. Four times. Leaving my wallet with negative 90 Mio. ISK.
Also, a dialog showed up explaining that customs got me and that I have the option to hand over the contraband or they will shoot me otherwise.
That dialog showed up 4 times while I was in the midst of changing systems and no matter what option I chose in the dialog: The contraband stayed with me and the fine got deducted from my wallet - until I reached Jita and finally offloaded the curse.
I could have dropped the contraband anywhere - to avoid all but the first fine - in hindsight. But I could have not tried to smuggle … so yeah.
After a short exchange with support, I learned that this is the “intended game mechanic”, and I understood what actually happened.
When I entered a new system, I chose the next jump gate and hit “dock”, meaning: warp to the jump gate and dock more or less immediately. In that short time frame between arrival and docking, customs scanned my cargo each time and offered me the dialog.
Remember: The dialog said: We got you. We will shoot you unless you hand over the contraband.
What the dialog did not say: “When you chose to move on, we can’t shot you but we can deduct a hefty fine even when your wallet has a negative balance”.
Because of the way I warped and docked, the dialog was obsolete. I only ever read it when I was already jumping.
What to make out of all of this?
Smuggling is not worth it - haha.
The current way highsec smuggling works, basically means: just do not ever do it.
But apart from being broke, I have questions …
Where is this mechanism documented? Could I have known better - apart from general precaution and scattered hints about contraband smuggling in some forums?
Is that “intended game mechanic” useful in any way? It has the potential of ruining a wallet (mine) and it does not offer any interesting game aspect.
In general: Why does some government agency have access to my wallet? libertarian screeching Why can I get fined when my wallet is negative?
Any comment is appreciated.
Also, any suggestions how I can recover is appreciated, too.