Trading of items would often be a part of skin gambler’s activities. May it be because you want to use that skin in the game or simply need a specific one for betting, due to it being overpriced on a gambling site. In this article, I am going to explain the nuances of CS:GO skin trading safely and staying safe from frauds. Before we learn what the typical fraudulent methods are, let’s first point out how to find a defrauder before they succeed to do damage.
Ways to detect a conman before they manage to defraud
The most straightforward manner that a person with malicious intentions might approach you is, of course, the VALVe’s built-in messaging function. To start with click their individual picture on the top left corner in the message box. This must open their profile in the Steam Window. If you have “Always show Steam URL address bar when available” option checked in the settings then you can see the URL of the profile at the top; select and copy the entire link.
Alternatively, you can grab their URL by right-clicking on the profile page and then choose the option “Copy Page URL”. Said actions ensure you have the correct link, do not trust profile links provided in the messages as they may be false or can even be phishing links to harm your PC. If you receive a message on an alternative web-page, then request said individual to add you over steam as impersonations are more rampant and much easier to pull off over a third-party service rather than Steam. Once that is done perform the steps mentioned above.
After the following, one has the link, open SteamRep; enter said URL in the searching feature. Said actions looks-up the individual in their database and fetch the profile page. If said person has ever been banned or cautioned from Steam-Rep or any of their affiliated communities, then it might be displayed prominently. Be sure to also check for pending reports as there might be reports, which are yet to be dealt with. To find those, scroll down a bit and select “Search Steam-Rep Forums” under “Search-engine Query” subsection of the webpage. Said feature must also have shortlinks to the individual’s page on the multiple other CS:GO trading sites which you can use to check their reputation on other services. Again use this instead of the links provided to you by the individuals themselves.
Other indicators that individual might not be a legit person include:
- A small number of games (especially paid games or AAA titles)
- Very small inventory worth despite which they want to purchase expensive items
- A very limited number of hours on the game (beware of idled hours though),
- Profile privacy set to private
- The date of creation is very recent
- A lack of command over English can also be a red flag, however, this is not absolute
9 frequently used scam methods while trading CS:GO skins
A highly used method, while using the Steam Live trading window. Essentially, you, the target is made to believe you’re receiving a specific item but you might end up with a completely different stuff. When the window is open the correct item might be initially put up, but when you’re distracted it might be switched quickly with a similar looking skin worth significantly less. Frequent examples would include swapping StatTrak weapons with non StatTrak ones, different wears, or placing a non stickered weapons instead of the negotiated stickered weapons. Due to the existence of name tags, the bait weapons can be renamed to not show up properly in the trade conversation. Finally, the target would end up with the incorrect item instead of the promised one.
A frequent thing to note is this procedure would involve confusing or distracting you while trading often by delivering a message through the messaging windows making you switch windows to see what the text was. Or requesting to exchange some items taking your attention away from their section of skins. Lastly, they may also quickly add or remove a large number of items at once making it harder to notice that a single weapon might have been replaced by another.
However, this has become increasingly harder to pull off, due to Steam pushing updates to their clients. Any switching of items now displays in the in trade chat logs which makes it easier to notice. If you have selected the option “Ready to trade”, it is automatically unchecked if either side makes any changes to the deal.
I would like to quote BitcoinTalk’s Lending subforum’s sticky, “No Collateral, No loan”. You might often find people requesting for certain weapons say for a tournament or a match. However, as you would expect most of these loans would never be fulfilled and you can pretty be assured that your stuff is gone for good. Always think of the loaned weapons as gone and never expect them to be returned, if you’re completely alright with that, only then proceed with the loan, otherwise, reject the request.
False Imitation of web-pages and other shady links
A modus operandi used even out Steam and happens to be the oldest tricks in the book. As you would expect this involves being provided with a link, which is often similar sounding, similarly designed to the legitimate site. However, it is just a front. It is a honeypot. Once details are provided and submitted they are immediately forwarded to the developer who composed said web-page and these credentials can then be abused for their financial gain.
Some links may also automatically install mal-ware, ransomware or keyloggers. Then the criminal can proceed to shut you out of your accounts. Ideal practice is to never open links, always enter the URL yourself and go to the service yourself. If you do an error, accidentally open a link that shows suspicious behavior, immediately change all potentially compromised passwords; run scans using your antivirus and antimalware (Malwarebytes is pretty useful for this one, not to mention its free.)
Bait and switching
This involves either multiple individuals or at least multiple accounts. How it works is you might initially be approached by someone selling a fairly rare item for quite a fair bit over what the skin is worth. Most people would ignore these unsolicited offers. Following which you might now be approached by a different person or an alternative account offering to buy said weapons for an exorbitant price, usually way over what the weapons were offered to the individual for.
The initial seller and the purchaser would show that both of them are ignorant of each other and would pretend to not know or care about the prices. Falling to greed and the chance of easy profit most people might contact the first guy and buy what they’re selling. Once the deal is done, however, both the seller and buyer might quickly vanish either by deleting their posts, unfriending you or simply blocking you from contacting them. Now you would be stuck with said rare hard to sell weapons, which you have paid quite a fair bit for.
Item verification involves the con artist asking you to temporarily deliver your items to a trusted friend in order to “verify” your skins to check if they are “duped” and thus are not fit to be traded. Once the items are sent to the friend, the trickster copies your profile and adds the friend you sent the items to requesting him to return the stuff.
Quite often your friend may fail to notice the difference and deliver the items to the trickster rather than you because to the similar profile. An alternative version of this is requesting you to deliver your weapons to a trusted “Item Verifier” or “Steam Developer” for verification, but the thing to realize is no matter how realistic they make themselves sound, there is no such thing as a steam admin of verification. This is just a method to part you from your items.
Misleading trade links on profile
Similar to the Quick Switching mentioned earlier fraudsters might post a URL labeled as their trade link prominently on their page or via instant messaging in hopes that you’re fooled to click that, expecting it to be their real trade link. Their main profile through which they make contact with you might hold the item of your interest, say for example an M9 Bayonet Gamma Doppler Emerald. On taking a look at their inventory and confirming that the knife in the account, you then accidentally deliver the offer which is in agreement upon to the offer URL on the account page that is not connected to the account you saw the knife on. Instead, it would be linked to an alternative account owned by the con artist which is made to look similar to the one with the Gamma Emerald.
The only issue being that knife in question, the Gamma Emerald Knife is not there instead there is a regular M9 Bayonet Gamma Doppler Phase 2. You, hoping for easy to make cash, might add the Phase 2 M9 bayonet into the offer window, without noticing due to them both having the similar template on the trading screen. Similar stuff is done with different percentage of wear (Perhaps, for example, offering a Well Worn Asiimov instead of the Field Tested one negotiated in the deal). A pro tip would be to inspect the weapons you’re bartering for and cross-check the skin description with the one you want.
Middleman / escrow impersonation
In cashrading where both parties do not have a significant amount of reputation using an escrow or middleman is quite frequent. This method does come with its downsides and risks. A frequent trick used by conmen is to recommend an escrow service that is greens marked on Steam-Rep. However, once the target gives a yes to said escrow, the swindler quickly recreates said escrow’s profile on an alternative steam and adds the target using that profile.
The phony escrow post this demands the weapons from the seller to be transferred to his backpack to be escrowed. Once the target delivers the weapons it is a done and the swindler quickly scrams from the situation immediately blocking the target on both his accounts and moving the weapon to another profile to sell them for money. Please note, verifying if the escrow you’re dealing with is legit or not is an important step.
False bot / faking the profile of a site’s storage accounts
Pretty frequent when dealing with third-party sites like OPSkins(review), Bitskins(review) and other services like gambling sites. Most of these provide you a verification code which might be matched by the bot delivering the trade offer to you. Always make sure to cross check whether the offer you’re accepting has the correct verification code or not. This scam frequent happens when the crook has prior knowledge that you plan to deposit your skins to a specific site.
Bogus betting / roulette site admin
Fraudsters develop a phishing site with a similar sounding domain name and the similar feel and look (often done by stealing code from the original platform they are trying to imitate). Then they contact you and give a convincing explanation of investing money in it as the owner and provide proof by rigging a round (since it is a phishing web-page that the dev control over it’s doable). They offer a lucrative sounding deal to rig a “round” or “pot” on their roulette while offering a share of the profits to you.
Then you’re urged to send your skins as an initial deposit either to the administrator directly or to the bots of the malicious web-page. Another version of this procedure is suggesting deals that involve the malicious site’s money. Prevention of this involves making sure to cross check any URL you’re linked, and if it triggers suspicions it is in your best interests to stay away from the said individual.
These are the 9 tips that will help you to stay away from the scam while trading your CS:GO skins. Good luck to you and always be careful when dealing with buy or sell operations.