The thief creates a throwaway alt, and opens a store on the Marketplace. Then he steals the advertising from another creator's store and advertises these objects in his own store. The items for sale are generally high end, expensive things, and the prices are several thousand $L. For example, the store may offer several deluxe, highly detailed and scripted skybox homes for $L5,000 or more.
When a victim buys the item, they receive an empty box. When they try to contact the seller, there's no response. And, in a few days, the store and its owner vanish...either banned by Linden Lab for fraud, or simply deleted by the perpetrator, who's off to create a new alt and repeat the process.
There's no really sure way to avoid this sort of scam, other than doing some rather tedious investigation. But here are some clues to watch out for:
- Very new seller. Look up the seller's Profile. If he is less than a few months old, you have to ask yourself how such a new person has managed to create so much high quality content. It takes time to develop that level of skill, and to create such complex items.
- No in-world store. This isn't a sure thing, taken by itself; many legitimate creators do sell only on the Marketplace. But it's an indicator, when combined with other clues.
- Negative reviews. Especially if someone writes, "I got an empty box!"
- Try a marketplace search using some keywords that describe the product. Does the search produce any identical products advertised by someone else? If so, SOMEone is lying.
- Do a Google search on the seller's name. See if anyone has posted something negative about them in a forum or on a blog.
Since we're talking about scams, here's another bit of news: Linden Lab has disabled the instant messaging feature in mysecondlife.com, due to widespread abuse of the function by scammers touting "bargain $L"....fraudulent offers to sell $L at well below market price.
See, children? This is why we can't have nice things.