- Mar 15, 2014
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Browsing the Hire A Freelancer, Want To Buy, and Joint Ventures sub-forums, you're bound to see a lot of shady folks climbing over each other trying to offer their services.
While there are undoubtedly many members, including myself, who comb through those sub-forums and report members who have a history of scamming and breaking the rules, it's unfortunately very difficult to find every single one of them.
It's because of this that I figured it was time to create a guide on how you can save yourself from being scammed not just here, but anywhere else on the Internet.
- The Ten Commandments Of Doing Business On Black Hat World
- Performing Background Checks
- Traits Of A Black Hat World Scammer
- How To Find Previously Banned Members & Members With Multiple Accounts
- The Black Hat World Search Method
- The Google Method
- How To Find A Member's History Online
- What To Do When You Find A Scammer
- What Not To Do When You Find A (Potential) Scammer In A Thread
- How To Send A Proper Report
- Opening Up A ShitList Thread
- Doing Business In The Marketplace
- Fake Journeys & Giveaways
- Current Scams On Black Hat World
- ConclusionMost of these 10 commandments are based on @zen19's thread titled, "Avoid being Scammed - Basic Pointers for YOUR security", though I've added in a few of my own pointers as well. While this was written with conducting business on BHW in mind, most of these pointers apply to doing business online in general.
- Always Research Anyone You're Planning To Do Business With. It doesn't matter if they're a Jr. VIP, Jr. Executive VIP, or even a moderator! What you uncover during your search could not only save you from getting scammed, but it can save other people as well. For example, look at this Jr. VIP with a 5 year old account who I found out was a previously banned member.
- Pay Attention To What Others Are Saying In A Business Thread. I've lost count of how many times I've called out members who were previously banned for scamming, only for an oblivious member to try to do business with them.
- Learn About What You're Paying For. The more you know about what you're hiring someone for, the easier it'll be to spot out a scam.
- Search For Both The Positive & Negative Reviews. Too many people look for one or the other. Positive reviews are nice and all, but seeing how a seller responds to negative reviews will give you an idea of their professionalism.
- If It Sounds Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is. For example, if someone approaches you and says that they're going to build a business for you and all you have to do is give them $100 to get started, then run for the hills!
- Always Have Multiple Forms Of Contact With The Other Person. Just having their BHW username isn't enough. If you plan on doing business here, especially if you're in a joint venture, make sure you can contact the other person either via e-mail, phone, instant messaging, etcetera. Most scammers aren't going to bother providing all of that information.
- Remain Cautious Of Members Who Have Recently Joined. I'm not saying new members are always scammers, they just don't haven't built up a reputation here and their accounts do not have any value. Though always keep #1 in mind. Additionally, watch out for members who built up most of their posts one day just to be able to PM.
- Choose Your Payment Methods Wisely. For those of you who use Paypal, don't ever send money to someone via the Family & Friends feature. Paypal does not offer buyer protection to people who use this.
- Keep A Record Of Your Interactions. Chat logs, private messages, and anything else that could come in handy if the member goes rogue. For an example on how chat logs can help ban unscrupulous sellers, view this thread.
- Report & Shit List Scams. By taking action as soon as you can, you could save someone else from getting scammed.Researching members is actually much easier than it sounds. For the sake of simplicity, there are 3 common types of members you'll want to avoid:
Traits Of A Black Hat World Scammer
- Previously banned members. They were banned for a reason.
- Members with multiple active accounts. Some users anticipate being banned and create backup accounts.
- Members who have a shady history online. I shouldn't need to explain the problem here.
If I had a skull for every scammer I've banned, I'd be standing on a mountain right now!
Do you want to know how I've managed to identify so many scammers? Because these people are predictable and easy to identify. It's almost as if they all have a meeting every month and decide to use the exact same tactics.
Recognising their patterns will make it easier to know who to avoid. Based on the scammers I've banned, here are some of the most common traits to look out for:
Note that just because a member is doing one of these, that doesn't make them a scammer. There are some members who PM their Skype because they don't want just any Joe Blow to find it and spam them later. However, if they PM you their Skype ID and it looks disposable, that's when you should get suspicious.
- First few posts are in the WTB/HaF/JV sections.
- Navigational masters: They know their way around the forum on the first day. Most new members are not aware of sections that aren't on the menu main bar to the left.
- Repeatedly bumping old threads to sell.
- Most of their posts are attempts to sell.
- New and trying to get members to add them on Skype.
- Using disposable emails and Skype IDs.
- Using sex symbol avatars. Err, not "sex symbols" like Brigitte Bardot, but ♀ and ♂. Wait, actually, sometimes they do use photos of women as their avatars.
- PMing you their Skype. This is a fairly new tactic as some scammers have caught on to the fact that I use their Skype ID to find out if they're a previously banned member.
- New and trying to sell outside of the marketplace.
- Claiming to be from the US, but speaks like a caveman.
- A complete disregard for the rules and etiquette here; they'll often post 10 times in a row in the same thread.
- Multiple accounts. There's no reason to have more than one account here unless you're up to no good.
- Using a try-hard American name as a forum handle (e.g., Jake Jakerson or Rob Robertson)
- Using a random assortment of numbers and letters as a forum handle (e.g., gt4n43rhgn).
How To Find Previously Banned Members & Members With Multiple Active Accounts
Those of you who frequently browse the Hire A Freelancer section may have noticed I point out a lot of previously banned users. Ever wondered how I do it? Well, I have a couple of different methods, but they're both quite simple.
1. The Black Hat World Search Method
This is by far the easiest method out of the two which employs the use of Black Hat World's new and improved search feature (because the old one sucked!).
To get started, all you have to do is go to the upper right-hand corner of the page to the search bar. Click where it says "search" and then click "More..." to perform an advanced search.
Now, for the keyword, enter the Skype ID of the member you're interested in looking into. Make sure that you're searching "all forums" and that you select the "most recent" radio button to order the results by recency.
Now, one of three things will happen: either you'll be told there are no results, you'll go to the results page, or you'll be informed that the Skype ID is censored.
If no results appear, go to the next method. If the Skype ID is censored (shown below), this member has been banned numerous times before. In other words, don't with them.
If you're taken to the results page, two things you should look out for are my name (@Zwielicht) and multiple accounts using the Skype ID. If you see my name, there's a really good chance I've called them out before, hence why I do it publicly.
Now, I'm unsure if non-moderators still can't see the strike-through, but if you see multiple accounts using the same Skype ID, click on one of the duplicates to see if it's been banned.
Funnily enough, if you look at the image above, I just caught another previously banned member posting while I was creating these screenshots. Oh boy, here I go banning again!
2.The Google Method
This one is great if you want to be sure that someone hasn't been banned here before as Google will usually still display results for threads and posts that have been deleted (use the cached feature to view the pages).
What I do is copy the user's Skype and forum handle and paste it into Google using the following search operators:
Using "meril" as an example, searching for his Skype ID will yield numerous results, though I'm only going share first 3.Code:
"Skype Id or email" -username site:blackhatworld.com
As you can see, the 3 results say "BANNED" clear as day. If you were to go as in-depth as me, you would find out that he's been banned 15+ times on this forum.
If you hadn't noticed by now, meril's Skype ID is censored here on Black Hat World (denoted by the asterisk series). If you see anyone with a censored home page URL, censored Skype ID, or censored email, then report them immediately. I've posted an example screenshot below of a censored username below (it won't always be underlined).
Regarding the Skype ID search method, there are unfortunately a couple of problems with this method:
Because of this, there are several variations you need to be aware of.
- There's an issue when you search Skype IDs that use periods with omission modifiers (-) in Google (I cover how to get around this below).
- Not everyone posts their Skype ID so plainly.
For example, use the query below when a Skype ID has a period in it. Oddly enough, I've found that when you use the query above with period Skype IDs, it won't show any results.
Once the results come up, go through each page and see if the Skype ID was used by any other members. A dead giveaway is when you find a thread from 2015 in the SERPs, but the user's account was created in 2016 and they've only posted in recent threads.Code:
Some users will also try to cloak their Skype IDs in order to prevent them from coming up in the search results. I've analysed their posting patterns and found that using the search queries in Google will help you find most of those accounts.
Google will occasionally show you related search results using the first search operator as if you searched for these variations, but don't count on this happening too often.Code:
"ID:insertskypeidhere" -username site:blackhatworld.com "Skype:insertskypeidhere" -username site:blackhatworld.com "skypeID:insertskypeidhere" -username site:blackhatworld.com "me:insertskypeidhere" -username site:blackhatworld.com
Alternatively, you can use the search query below to see if I've called out a previously banned member before. I usually leave notes around the forum in order to make it easier for other members to find out who's been banned before, so use this to your advantage.
"Zwielicht" "Insert Skype ID" site:blackhatworld.com
How To Find A Member's History Online
Those of you who remember me calling out "George" in his introduction thread back in 2014 will remember that I found out he was not just banned from multiple other forums for scamming, but I even found evidence that he was still trying to scam.
I found this out by finding the "breadcrumbs" he left around the Internet. What are breadcrumbs you ask? Well, this is just another way of saying that user left a trail that can be used to find their information.
For instance, let's say George came back with the user ID "scamorge" and we want to find his info all over again. This is what we would do:
An example trail would look something like the one below:
- Search his Black Hat World profile for any other IDs.
- Search his profile name and other IDs in Google
- Visit any and every account with his name while taking note of any additional IDs
- Search for those IDs and bookmark any pages where he's done something dubious or been accused of scamming.
BHW Account>Warrior Forum Account (Banned)>Real Name>Domain Name (No Whois)>Physical Address>Phone Number>Newspaper Articles>Arrest Records
Get the idea?
Now, there are several ways to begin a search. You'll want to start off by searching their Black Hat World profile for any names or Skype IDs. If the user hasn't filled out their profile, check their posts and look for any information you could use to identify them (alternative usernames, emails, Skype IDs,etcetera).
You can also reverse image search their avatar on here. This can lead you to their other profiles, but that's only a reliable tactic if they're using a unique avatar. A good majority of the time, these clowns will use one of the default forum avatars or, my favourite, they change their gender to "female" and use a gender symbol as an avatar. This is the cardinal sin of the forum scammer; they try too hard to not to stand out, which draws even more attention to them.
Just rinse and repeat this process with each new account you find until you find something that's a cause for concern. If you don't find anything, then great!
1. Don't Call Them Out Publicly Without Evidence
When you suspect someone is trying to scam you or another person in a thread, do not call them out publicly unless you have evidence. I've seen too many quasi-detectives here in the past few months drive new members away with baseless accusations. This doesn't make you cool or funny, on the contrary, it makes you look like a jackass.
2. Don't Forget To Report Them
One thing that annoys me is when a ShitList thread concludes with a scammer getting banned, and then some Joe Blow comes out of nowhere and says "He scammed me, too". Why the hell didn't you report them, then!?
There are a couple of common misconceptions around here about reporting.
Both of these beliefs are wrong. You should always report a member, even if they attempted to scam you or if they have a higher status on the forum than you do.
- Some members are under the notion that they shouldn't for scam attempts
- Some members believe that just because they're new or of a lesser status, their reports won't be taken seriously, especially when they report a Jr. VIP+ member.
3. Don't "Feel Bad" About Getting A Scammer Banned
This is related to the last point and I've actually heard this one before. A member once private messaged me about someone who tried to scam them, and when I told them to report the guy, they didn't want to because they would "feel bad about the member getting banned". What in the Sam Hill!?
Imagine this, what if that guy you didn't report because you "felt bad" went on to scam another member out of $500? What if that member who was scammed out of $500 needed that money the next day for an emergency surgery for his cat? Oh, but now he can't pay for it and his cat is dead because you "felt bad" for a scammer.
Remember that getting rid of the scammer now can save someone else from being scammed here in the future. You might also be saving a cat's life.
4. Once You Have Evidence, Send In A Proper Report
If someone attempted to scam you, then sending a report to a moderator that just says "member is a scammer" isn't going to be enough. You need to include links to any evidence you've collected, links to screenshots, and which rule they've broken. If the member really did attempt to scam you, then this shouldn't be a problem.
If you're still not sure about how to structure a report, then I've created a report format below based on the one I used as a moderator in training.
5. Opening Up A ShitList Thread
Now, if a member did scam you, open up a ShitList thread against them (again, include evidence). I've been fortunate enough to never have to do this, although I'm familiar with the procedure there as I usually read those threads. @bz has included instructions in his thread at the top of the ShitList section on when to open one, what to do, what not to do, and the procedure.
While it's safer to do business with a seller in the marketplace than it is to do business with some random guy trying to add you on Skype, there are still a few things you need to look out for.
- Dropped Quality - Many of you are probably aware that I've stopped reviewing services in the marketplace. This is because there have been several instances of sellers providing other high ranking members and I with stellar services, but then immediately dropping their quality shortly after. I feel that I leave pretty detailed reviews, so if you purchase anything from a service I've reviewed, compare what you've received to what I received. If you didn't get the same service I did, report that seller.
- Fake Reviews - Some sellers, after dropping their quality because their lazy, resort to buying fake reviews or creating multiple accounts to review their own services. Because these people are incredibly stupid, fake reviews are easy to spot out because the sellers tend to over-hype their own services. For more information on this, refer to @Apricot's thread titled, "PLEASE READ: SPAMMERS AND FAKE REVIEWS".
- Likes From Numerous Banned Member - I suspect some sellers have tried purchasing likes for their sales threads. I came to this conclusion after checking a few sample threads, of which many of the accounts that have liked the threads were banned for fake reviews.
After reading @thehighmind's thread titled, "Is BHW going lame?", I thought it was time to address the disguised promotional content on this forum.
Spotting Fake Journeys
There are two main types of fake journeys I see on this forum: promotional and noob bait.
Promotional journeys are characterised by the use of obscure tools or service and their purpose should be obvious. These are fairly easy to detect as the promoter will often speak very highly of the tool or service despite barely beginning their journey, and the more careless among them will post affiliate links or tracking links back to the website. Using some of the tactics mentioned in the "Performing Background Checks" section of this thread, it's also possible to establish a link between the thread creator and the tool or service.
Now, I've noticed that most of the members here have a difficult time detecting noob bait journeys. To summarise, the purpose of a noob bait journey is to coax members into private messaging the thread creator, and most of the time, lure them to Skype. What happens once the member is lured to Skype differs between each noob baiter. Some of them are just looking to build an email list, others want to shove affiliate links down your throat, and the more nefarious among them will try to sell you a garbage "method". You can spot out noob bait thread by taking note of the following:
- Bogus claims with no proof. You'll often see the noob baiter claim to make a large sum of money without offering an substantial evidence.
- Fake screenshots. These are easier to detect when the noob baiter is careless, but for an example of how to detect fake screenshots, see my post here.
Spotting Fake Giveaways
A fake giveaway thread is one where a member claims to be doing a giveaway, but has other intentions. You'll find four types of fake giveaways on this forum:
Unfortunately, there's no real way of avoiding the first three, but the last one can be avoided by simply not entering keyword giveaways.
- They go through with the giveaway, but later sell your email to spammers.
- They don't go through with the giveaway and later sell your email to spammers.
- They only partially deliver the freebie and try to charge you for the rest of it.
- They open up a keyword giveaway for niche ideas.
According to @Apricot's "WARNING: Bitcoin payments, Escrow and buying services over PM's" thread in the Lounge, many shady users are contacting other members via PM regardng the following:
Additionally, I've noticed several members trying to pull a fast one on the forum. Here are a few stunts you should be on the lookout for:
- Payments via BTC (these are irreversible).
- Escrow services provided by another member.
- Members asking for YOUR Skype ID via PM.
- Advertisements via PM.
- "Giveaway" threads where a member asks you to leave a review. This is especially the case when they request the review before they deliver the freebie. There was an incident recently where a member left a Fiverr review for a freebie, but they never got the freebie and the member ended up vouching for a service he never used.
- "I Make $65,352.56 A Month" Threads. I'm seeing more of these threads pop up on the forum. I'm not saying you can't make this much money in a month, all I'm saying is that you should research the people who make these claims before you try to do business with them. I've seen a couple of Macedonian Kids with parental support/funding come here and make these threads in the past, trying to play it off like they "made it on their own".
- Begging threads. I've seen both old and new members grovel for money on the forum. Now, some people are legitimately in a bad situation and need help and I have no problem with members of the community coming together to help these people out. However, I do have a problem with new members named "Frank Frankerson" using proxies and starting threads about how they need money to pay for a funeral/ their dying dog/their upcoming surgery. They're the online equivalent of this guy, except without the money:
- "What Can I Do With/Where Can I Sell My...?" Threads. This isn't always a scam and it's nothing new, but I've seen too many members get scammed by people who post these threads. Here's the basic premise: a member comes on this forum and wants to sell something, usually accounts, but they're broke as FUUUUUUUUU----- so they can't afford a marketplace thread. So what do you do when you're broke and want to sell crappy accounts? You open up a thread saying, "I have FB accounts with 100,000 followers. What do I do with them?" You see where this is going, right? Some desperate guy with $32 in his PayPal account tries to buy these accounts using "Friends & Family", gets scammed, and then opens a Shit List thread.
- Spacing out Skype IDs. Not a scam per se, though some previously banned members have been catching on to the fact that their Skype IDs have been censored. In order to circumvent the censor, they'll try to space out their Skype IDs. Know that anyone who does this has been banned here before.
- Vietnamese Scammers. This is a group of scammers who have been targeting this for since May. Please read my post here for more information.
- Asotop Spammers. Another group of spammers trying to promote their shoddy services. Please read my August post here for more information.
- $100/Day E-book. Watch out for this one. There's an e-book floating around with an affiliate link at the end of it. You'll almost always see it being promoted as an attachment by a new member with 1 post. Don't be decieved by its promise of a lower middle income salary; the only person making money from the e-book is the affiliate, not you.
- GPT offer filling. Some members will post job offers saying you can make $XX or $XXX a day by completing surveys on their "get paid to" website. They aren't paying squat, they're just looking for someone to complete the surveys for them.
- "Freebies" that require you to post a review. People have been doing this one for years. It's not free if they're asking for something in return, so don't fall for this. Some members will try to guilt you into posting a review and other will threaten you, but at no time are you obligated to leave a review in a BST thread after receiving a freebie in the giveaways section.
- Skype users posing as reputable members. Refer to this post for more information. Here's a great recent example of Skype imposters luring in credulous members.
- The Google Voice Scammer. Please refer to this post for more information.To conclude this post, I'd just like to say that if any of you are ever dubious about someone here, don't hesitate to contact me or any of the other moderators and ask for help.
That's all I have to say, so as they say in Canada, peace oot!
Thanks for the info.