How One Person Got Scammed

What This Site Is About:
How BioWare SWTOR takeback scam works and encourages scams, scammers and fraud.  It's an opinion piece on the scam and BioWare's policy that (perhaps unintentionally) supports the scammers.


How The Scam Works:
The scammer intending the fraud already has or simply creates a legitimate BioWare SWTOR account that is played up to a reasonable level.  The scammer may have played the account for a long time before deciding to run the scam or may set up the account for the specific purpose of running the scam. 

Since most SWTOR gamers are familiar with the scam, the target is usually someone new to the game who couldn't know of the mechanism that enables the scam until it is too late.  The scammer usually uses an online name different from that used in the game in order to remain anonymous.

The scammer sells the account, usually through a legitimate third-party seller who ensures a secure transaction.  The buyer plays up the account thereby adding value to the account.  The scammer contacts BioWare by telephone and claims that his account has been stolen.  BioWare resets passwords and locks the buyer out of the account.  The scam is complete, the fraud successful and the scammer has the money from the sale, the account back in his control and the increased value of the account all ready to sell again.  If the scammer is identified, he usually argues that he intended to pay back the buyer or that BioWare doesn't allow the sale of accounts, so he did nothing wrong.  Of course, the buyer remains victimized and out the money that was invested into the account.

What's BioWare's Role:
First off, BioWare's SWTOR is a game and people should all play on an equal footing.  That is, I believe that the right way to play is to start from the beginning with a new account and a new character and learn as you play.  As much as I believe that, I also recognize that not everyone agrees, nor should they necessarily.  As with the rest of what I have to say here, that is just my opinion, but I am not writing to talk about niceties.  I want to talk about scammers, thieves and how I believe BioWare's policies promote fraud.

BioWare SWTOR has a policy that allegedly discourages people from selling SWTOR accounts.  That policy generally is presented as protecting account holders by always providing access to the original account holder no matter what the current circumstances.  That applies even in the face of proof that someone was defrauded over the internet by virtue of BioWare's policy.  They say they want to discourage people from selling and buying accounts.

I think a reasonable person would reach a different opinion about the effect of BioWare's policy toward SWTOR accounts.  A person not very familiar with the game would have no idea that such a policy exists.  That person would reasonably assume that an account for sale is a good way to get started and make a purchase.  Many people do just that.  The new account holder works hard to learn the game, build up the characters, accumulate credits, and maybe buys extra cartel coins and pays for a membership.  All that effort and expense is put forth in good faith because it is, in their mind, their account.

Enter the original purchaser who knows BioWare will stand behind him no matter how dishonest and unscrupulous he is.  They have been laying in wait and watching the progress of the account they just sold.  When the scammer thinks the time is right, he calls BioWare and complains that he doesn't have access to his account.  BioWare asks him for ID and gives him a new password and a pat on the back.  You would think the unsuspecting purchaser would be upset and show BioWare that he actually did buy the account.  They do.  They show receipts from third-party sellers and credit card statements that prove they bought the account in good faith.  They point out that they couldn't possibly have known of BioWare's policy until they had already purchased an account.  Even then, it's not something anyone comes across while playing the game.

When someone who has been scammed by an unscrupulous SWTOR account seller demonstrates (with proof) to BioWare that they are the victims of fraud, BioWare's response is, "That's too bad, it's our policy to discourage purchasing accounts.  There's nothing we can do for you."  But, there is plenty BioWare can do for the scammer!  BioWare then proceeds to not only turn the account back over to the scammer, but additionally rewards the scammer by giving him everything the victim has purchased from BioWare including the prepaid membership.  The crook has now made money from the sale and gotten back a much better account including things of value that came right out of the victim's pocket, all provided to the scammer courtesy of BioWare.  The scammer can now put the account right back on the market do it all over again, making even more profit and knowing BioWare will be right there to support him through the next fraud. 

Imagine that you bought a used car, had it restored and repaired to a much better condition and the same thing happened.  What if the seller could simply show their original registration and reclaim the car without paying you a dime and what if the government entity responsible for vehicle registration supported original owner and ignored your record of ownership?  Yeah, that sounds pretty stupid and people would put a stop to it immediately.  Yet, BioWare, in the routine course of business does exactly that, providing a rich and safe haven for scammers and crooks, thereby sponsoring and promoting yet another opportunity for internet crime.