Black Hat World can be an amazing place to do business. However, just like on any other website, you can fall victim to a scam if you're not careful. So whether you're new to doing business online or a veteran, it's important that you learn how to stay safe and avoid scams on Black Hat World. Most 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. 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: 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. Traits Of A Black Hat World Scammer 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: 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 his is a relatively new tactic 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). Note that just because a member is doing one of these things, 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. 1. 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. 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. 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. 2. 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. 3. 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: 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. Unfortunately, there's no real way of avoiding the first three, but the last one can be avoided by simply not entering keyword giveaways. 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!