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/r/Scams Common Scam Master Post

Hello visitors and subscribers of scams! Here you will find a master list of common (and uncommon) scams that you may encounter online or in real life. Thank you to the many contributors who helped create this thread!

If you know of a scam that is not covered here, write a comment and it will be added to the next edition.

Previous threads: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/search?q=common+scams+master+post&restrict_sr=on
Blackmail email scam thread: https://www.reddit.com/Scams/comments/jij7zf/the_blackmail_email_scam_part_6/
Some of these articles are from small, local publications and refer to the scam happening in a specific area. Do not think that this means that the scam won't happen in your area.


Caller ID spoofing
It is very easy for anyone to make a phone call while having any number show up on the caller ID of the person receiving the phone call. Receiving a phone call from a certain number does not mean that the person/company who owns that number has actually called you.
Email spoofing
The "from" field of an email can be set by the sender, meaning that you can receive scam emails that look like they are from legitimate addresses. It's important to never click links in emails unless absolutely necessary, for example a password reset link you requested or an account activation link for an account you created.
SMS spoofing
SMS messages can be spoofed, so be wary of messages that seem to be from your friends or other trusted people.

The most common scams

The fake check scam (Credit to nimble2 for this part)
The fake check scam arises from many different situations (for instance, you applied for a job, or you are selling something on a place like Craigslist, or someone wants to purchase goods or services from your business, or you were offered a job as a mystery shopper, you were asked to wrap your car with an advertisement, or you received a check in the mail for no reason), but the bottom line is always something like this:
  • The scammer sends you a very real looking, but fake, check. Sometimes they'll call it a "cashier's check", a "certified check", or a "verified check".
  • You deposit the check into your bank account, and within a couple of days your bank makes some or all of the funds available to you. This makes you think that the check is real and the funds have cleared. However, the money appearing in your account is not the same as the check actually clearing. The bank must make the funds available to you before they have cleared the check because that is the law.
  • For various and often complicated reasons, depending on the specific story line of the scam, the scammer will ask you to send someone some of the money, using services like MoneyGram, Western Union, and Walmart-2-Walmart. Sometimes the scammer will ask for you to purchase gift cards (iTunes, Amazon, Steam, etc) and give them the codes to redeem the gift cards. Some scammers may also give you instructions on how to buy and send them bitcoins.
  • Within a couple of weeks, though it can take as long as a month, your bank will realize that the check you deposited was fake, and your bank will remove the funds that you deposited into your account and charge you a bounced check fee. If you withdrew any of the money from the fake check, that money will be gone and you will owe that money to the bank. Some posters have even had their bank accounts closed and have been blocked from having another account for 5 years using ChexSystems.
General fraudulent funds scams If somebody is asking you to accept and send out money as a favour or as part of a job, it is a fraudulent funds scam. It does not matter how they pay you, any payment on any service can be fraudulent and will be reversed when it is discovered to be fraudulent.
Phone verification code scams Someone will ask you to receive a verification text and then tell you to give them the code. Usually the code will come from Google Voice, or from Craigslist. In the Google version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Google Voice account that the scammer will use to scam people with. In the Craigslist version of the scam, your phone number will be used to verify a Craigslist posting that the scammer will use to scam people. There is also an account takeover version of this scam that will involve the scammer sending a password reset token to your phone number and asking you for it.
Bitcoin job scams
Bitcoin job scams involve some sort of fraudulent funds transfer, usually a fake check although a fraudulent bank transfer can be used as well. The scammer will send you the fraudulent money and ask you to purchase bitcoins. This is a scam, and you will have zero recourse after you send the scammer bitcoins.
Email flooding
If you suddenly receive hundreds or thousands of spam emails, usually subscription confirmations, it's very likely that one of your online accounts has been taken over and is being used fraudulently. You should check any of your accounts that has a credit card linked to it, preferably from a computer other than the one you normally use. You should change all of your passwords to unique passwords and you should start using two factor authentication everywhere.
Cartel scam
You will be threatened by scammers who claim to be affiliated with a cartel. They may send you gory pictures and threaten your life and the lives of your family. Usually the victim will have attempted to contact an escort prior to the scam, but sometimes the scammers target people randomly. If you are targeted by a cartel scam all you need to do is ignore the scammers as their threats are clearly empty.
Boss/CEO scam A scammer will impersonate your boss or someone who works at your company and will ask you to run an errand for them, which will usually be purchasing gift cards and sending them the code. Once the scammer has the code, you have no recourse.
Employment certification scams
You will receive a job offer that is dependent on you completing a course or receiving a certification from a company the scammer tells you about. The scammer operates both websites and the job does not exist.
Craigslist fake payment scams
Scammers will ask you about your item that you have listed for sale on a site like Craigslist, and will ask to pay you via Paypal. They are scamming you, and the payment in most cases does not actually exist, the email you received was sent by the scammers. In cases where you have received a payment, the scammer can dispute the payment or the payment may be entirely fraudulent. The scammer will then either try to get you to send money to them using the fake funds that they did not send to you, or will ask you to ship the item, usually to a re-shipping facility or a parcel mule.
Craigslist Carfax/vehicle history scam
You'll encounter a scammer on Craigslist who wants to buy the vehicle you have listed, but they will ask for a VIN report from a random site that they have created and they will expect you to pay for it.
Double dip/recovery scammers
This is a scam aimed at people who have already fallen for a scam previously. Scammers will reach out to the victim and claim to be able to help the victim recover funds they lost in the scam.
General fraudulent funds scams The fake check scam is not the only scam that involves accepting fraudulent/fake funds and purchasing items for scammers. If your job or opportunity involves accepting money and then using that money, it is almost certainly a frauduent funds scam. Even if the payment is through a bank transfer, Paypal, Venmo, Zelle, Interac e-Transfer, etc, it does not matter.
Credit card debt scam
Fraudsters will offer to pay off your bills, and will do so with fraudulent funds. Sometimes it will be your credit card bill, but it can be any bill that can be paid online. Once they pay it off, they will ask you to send them money or purchase items for them. The fraudulent transaction will be reversed in the future and you will never be able to keep the money. This scam happens on sites like Craigslist, Twitter, Instagram, and also some dating sites, including SeekingArrangement.
The parcel mule scam
A scammer will contact you with a job opportunity that involves accepting and reshipping packages. The packages are either stolen or fraudulently obtained items, and you will not be paid by the scammer. Here is a news article about a scam victim who fell for this scam and reshipped over 20 packages containing fraudulently acquired goods.
The Skype sex scam
You're on Facebook and you get a friend request from a cute girl you've never met. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. She'll ask you to send pictures or videos or get on webcam where she can see you naked with your face in the picture. The scam: There's no girl. You've sent nudes to a guy pretending to be a girl. As soon as he has the pictures he'll demand money and threaten to send the pictures to your friends and family. Sometimes the scammer will upload the video to a porn site or Youtube to show that they are serious.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: You cannot buy silence, you can only rent it. Paying the blackmailer will show them that the information they have is valuable and they will come after you for more money. Let your friends and family know that you were scammed and tell them to ignore friend requests or messages from people they don't know. Also, make sure your privacy settings are locked down and consider deactivating your account.
The underage girl scam
You're on a dating site or app and you get contacted by a cute girl. She wants to start sexting and trading nudes. Eventually she stops communicating and you get a call from a pissed off guy claiming to be the girl's father, or a police officer, or a private investigator, or something else along those lines. Turns out the girl you were sexting is underage, and her parents want some money for various reasons, such as to pay for a new phone, to pay for therapy, etc. There is, of course, no girl. You were communicating with a scammer.
What to do if you are a victim of this scam: Stop picking up the phone when the scammers call. Do not pay them, or they will be after you for more money.
Phishing is when a scammer tries to trick you into giving information to them, such as your password or private financial information. Phishing messages will usually look very similar to official messages, and sometimes they are identical. If you are ever required to login to a different account in order to use a service, you should be incredibly cautious.
The blackmail email scam part 5: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/g8jqnthe_blackmail_email_scam_part_5/
PSA: you did not win a giftcard: https://old.reddit.com/Scams/comments/fffmle/psa_you_did_not_win_a_gift_card/
Sugar scams
Sugar scammers operate all over the internet and usually come in two varieties: advance-fee scams where the scammer will ask for a payment from you before sending you lots of money, and fake check style scams where the scammer will either pull a classic fake check scam, or will do a "bill pay" style scam that involves them paying your bills, or them giving you banking information to pay your bills. If you encounter these scammers, report their accounts and move on.
Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a messaging platform used extensively by all kinds of scammers. If you are talking with someone online and they want you to switch to Hangouts, they are likely a scammer and you should proceed with caution.
Publishers Clearing House scams
PCH scams are often advance-fee scams, where you will be promised lots of money after you make an initial payment. You will never need to pay if you win money from the real PCH.
Pet scams
You are looking for a specific breed of puppy, bird, or other pet. You come across a nice-looking website that claims to be breeding them and has some available right now - they may even be on sale! The breeders are not local to your area (and may not even list a physical location) but they assure you they can safely ship the pet to you after a deposit or full payment. If you go through with the payment, you will likely be contacted by the "shipper" who will inform you about an unexpected shipping/customs/processing fee required to deliver your new pet. But there was never any pet, both the "breeder" and the "shipper" are scammers, typically operating out of Africa. These sites are rampant and account for a large percentage of online pet seller websites - they typically have a similar layout/template (screenshot - example)
If you are considering buying a pet online, some easy things to check are: (1) The registration date of the domain (if it was created recently it is likely a scam website) (2) Reverse image search the pictures of available pets - you will usually find other scam websites using the same photos. (3) Copy a sentence/section of the text from the "about us" page and put it into google (in quotes) - these scammers often copy large parts of their website's text from other places. (4) Search for the domain name and look for entries on petscams.com or other scam-tracking sites. (5) Strongly consider buying/adopting your pet from a local shelter or breeder where you can see the animal in person before putting any money down.
Thanks to djscsi for this entry.
Fake shipping company scams
These scams usually start when you try to buy something illegal online, though not always. You will be scammed for the initial payment, and then you will receive an email from the fake shipping company telling you that you need to pay them some sort of fee or bribe. If you pay this, they will keep trying to scam you with increasingly absurd stories until you stop paying, at which point they will blackmail you. If you are involved in this scam, all you can do is ignore the scammers and move on, and try to dispute your payments if possible.
Chinese Upwork scam
Someone will ask you to create an Upwork or other freelancer site account for them and will offer money in return. You will not be paid, and they want to use the accounts to scam people.
Quickbooks invoice scam
This is a fake check style scam that takes advantage of Quickbooks.
The blackmail email scam The exact wording of the emails varies, but there are generally four main parts. They claim to have placed software/malware on a porn/adult video site, they claim to have a video of you masturbating or watching porn, they threaten to release the video to your friends/family/loved ones/boss/dog, and they demand that you pay them in order for them to delete the video. Rest assured that this is a very common spam campaign and there is no truth behind the email or the threats. Here are some news articles about this scam.
The blackmail mail scam
This is very similar to the blackmail email scam, but you will receive a letter in the mail.
Rental scams Usually on local sites like Craigslist, scammers will steal photos from legitimate real estate listings and will list them for rent at or below market rate. They will generally be hesitant to tell you the address of the property for "safety reasons" and you will not be able to see the unit. They will then ask you to pay them a deposit and they claim they will ship you the keys. In reality, your money is gone and you will have no recourse.
Craigslist vehicle scams A scammer will list a vehicle on Craigslist and will offer to ship you the car. In many cases they will also falsely claim to sell you the car through eBay or Amazon. If you are looking for a car on Craigslist and the seller says anything about shipping the car, having an agent, gives you a long story about why they are selling the car, or the listing price is far too low, you are talking to a scammer and you should ignore and move on.
Advance-fee scam, also known as the 419 scam, or the Nigerian prince scam. You will receive a communication from someone who claims that you are entitled to a large sum of money, or you can help them obtain a large sum of money. However, they will need money from you before you receive the large sum.
Man in the middle scams
Man in the middle scams are very common and very hard to detect. The scammer will impersonate a company or person you are legitimately doing business with, and they will ask you to send the money to one of their own bank accounts or one controlled by a money mule. They have gained access to the legitimate persons email address, so there will be nothing suspicious about the email. To prevent this, make contact in a different way that lets you verify that the person you are talking to is the person you think you are talking to.
Digit wallet scam
A variation of the fake check scam, the scammer sends you money through a digital wallet (i.e. Venmo, Apple Pay, Zelle, Cash App) along with a message claiming they've sent the money to the wrong person and a request to send the money back. Customer service for these digital wallets may even suggest that you send the money back. However, the money sent is from a stolen credit card and will be removed from your account after a few days. Your transfer is not reversed since it came from your own funds.
Cam girl voting/viewer scam
You will encounter a "cam girl" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to go to their site and sign up with your credit card. They may offer a free show, or ask you to vote for them, or any number of other fake stories.
Amateur porn recruitment scam
You will encounter a "pornstar" on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask you to create an adult film with hehim, but first you need to do something. The story here is usually something to do with verifying your age, or you needing to take an STD test that involves sending money to a site operated by the scammer.
Hot girl SMS spam
You receive a text from a random number with a message along the lines of "Hey babe I'm here in town again if you wanted to meet up this time, are you around?" accompanied by a NSFW picture of a hot girl. It's spam, and they'll direct you to their scam website that requires a credit card.
Identity verification scam
You will encounter someone on a dating/messaging/social media/whatever site/app, and the scammer will ask that you verify your identity as they are worried about catfishing. The scammer operates the site, and you are not talking to whoever you think you are talking to.
This type of scam teases you with something, then tries to make you sign up for something else that costs money. The company involved is often innocent, but they turn a blind eye to the practice as it helps their bottom line, even if they have to occasionally issue refunds. A common variation takes place on dating sites/dating apps, where you will match with someone who claims to be a camgirl who wants you to sign up for a site and vote for her. Another variation takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where the scammers setup fake rental scams and demand that you go through a specific service for a credit check. Once you go through with it, the scammer will stop talking to you. Another variation also takes place on local sites like Craigslist, where scammers will contact you while you are selling a car and will ask you to purchase a Carfax-like report from a specific website.
Multi Level Marketing or Affiliate Marketing
You apply for a vague job listing for 'sales' on craigslist. Or maybe an old friend from high school adds you on Facebook and says they have an amazing business opportunity for you. Or maybe the well dressed guy who's always interviewing people in the Starbucks that you work at asks if you really want to be slinging coffee the rest of your life. The scam: MLMs are little more than pyramid schemes. They involve buying some sort of product (usually snake oil health products like body wraps or supplements) and shilling them to your friends and family. They claim that the really money is recruiting people underneath you who give you a slice of whatever they sell. And if those people underneath you recruit more people, you get a piece of their sales. Ideally if you big enough pyramid underneath you the money will roll in without any work on your part. Failure to see any profit will be your fault for not "wanting it enough." The companies will claim that you need to buy their extra training modules or webinars to really start selling. But in reality, the vast majority of people who buy into a MLM won't see a cent. At the end of the day all you'll be doing is annoying your friends and family with your constant recruitment efforts. What to look out for: Recruiters love to be vague. They won't tell you the name of the company or what exactly the job will entail. They'll pump you up with promises of "self-generating income", "being your own boss", and "owning your own company." They might ask you to read books about success and entrepreneurs. They're hoping you buy into the dream first. If you get approached via social media, check their timelines. MLMs will often instruct their victims to pretend that they've already made it. They'll constantly post about how they're hustling and making the big bucks and linking to youtube videos about success. Again, all very vague about what their job actually entails. If you think you're being recruited: Ask them what exactly the job is. If they can't answer its probably a MLM. Just walk away.

Phone scams

You should generally avoid answering or engaging with random phone calls. Picking up and engaging with a scam call tells the scammers that your phone number is active, and will usually lead to more calls.
Tax Call
You get a call from somebody claiming to be from your countries tax agency. They say you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately, and you may be arrested or have other legal action taken against you if it is not paid. This scam has caused the American IRS, Canadian CRA, British HMRC, and Australian Tax Office to issue warnings. This scam happens in a wide variety of countries all over the world.
Warrant Call
Very similar to the tax call. You'll get a phone call from an "agent", "officer", "sheriff", or other law enforcement officer claiming that there is a warrant out for your arrest and you will be arrested very soon. They will then offer to settle everything for a fee, usually paid in giftcards.
[Legal Documents/Process Server Calls]
Very similar to the warrant call. You'll get a phone call from a scammer claiming that they are going to serve you legal documents, and they will threaten you with legal consequences if you refuse to comply. They may call themselves "investigators", and will sometimes give you a fake case number.
Student Loan Forgiveness Scam
Scammers will call you and tell you about a student loan forgiveness program, but they are interested in obtaining private information about you or demanding money in order to join the fake program.
Tech Support Call You receive a call from someone with a heavy accent claiming to be a technician Microsoft or your ISP. They inform you that your PC has a virus and your online banking and other accounts may be compromised if the virus is not removed. They'll have you type in commands and view diagnostics on your PC which shows proof of the virus. Then they'll have you install remote support software so the technician can work on your PC, remove the virus, and install security software. The cost of the labor and software can be hundreds of dollars. The scam: There's no virus. The technician isn't a technician and does not work for Microsoft or your ISP. Scammers (primarily out of India) use autodialers to cold-call everyone in the US. Any file they point out to you or command they have you run is completely benign. The software they sell you is either freeware or ineffective. What to do you if you're involved with this scam: If the scammers are remotely on your computer as you read this, turn off your PC or laptop via the power button immediately, and then if possible unplug your internet connection. Some of the more vindictive tech scammers have been known to create boot passwords on your computer if they think you've become wise to them and aren't going to pay up. Hang up on the scammers, block the number, and ignore any threats about payment. Performing a system restore on your PC is usually all that is required to remove the scammer's common remote access software. Reports of identity theft from fake tech calls are uncommon, but it would still be a good idea to change your passwords for online banking and monitor your accounts for any possible fraud. How to avoid: Ignore any calls claiming that your PC has a virus. Microsoft will never contact you. If you're unsure if a call claiming to be from your ISP is legit, hang up, and then dial the customer support number listed on a recent bill. If you have elderly relatives or family that isn't tech savvy, take the time to fill them in on this scam.
Chinese government scam
This scam is aimed at Chinese people living in Europe and North America, and involves a voicemail from someone claiming to be associated with the Chinese government, usually through the Chinese consulate/embassy, who is threatening legal action or making general threats.
Chinese shipping scam
This scam is similar to the Chinese government scam, but involves a seized/suspicious package, and the scammers will connect the victim to other scammers posing as Chinese government investigators.
Social security suspension scam
You will receive a call from someone claiming to work for the government regarding suspicious activity, fraud, or serious crimes connected to your social security number. You'll be asked to speak to an operator and the operator will explain the steps you need to follow in order to fix the problems. It's all a scam, and will lead to you losing money and could lead to identity theft if you give them private financial information.
Utilities cutoff
You get a call from someone who claims that they are from your utility company, and they claim that your utilities will be shut off unless you immediately pay. The scammer will usually ask for payment via gift cards, although they may ask for payment in other ways, such as Western Union or bitcoin.
Relative in custody Scammer claims to be the police, and they have your son/daughtenephew/estranged twin in custody. You need to post bail (for some reason in iTunes gift cards or MoneyGram) immediately or the consequences will never be the same.
Mexican family scam
This scam comes in many different flavours, but always involves someone in your family and Mexico. Sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been detained, sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member has been kidnapped, and sometimes the scammer will claim that your family member is injured and needs help.
General family scams
Scammers will gather a large amount of information about you and target your family members using different stories with the goal of gettimg them to send money.
One ring scam
Scammers will call you from an international number with the goal of getting you to return their call, causing you to incur expensive calling fees.

Online shopping scams

THE GOLDEN RULE OF ONLINE SHOPPING: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
An ad on reddit or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram offers items at huge discounts or even free (sometimes requiring you to reblog or like their page). They just ask you to pay shipping. The scam: The item will turn out to be very low quality and will take weeks or even months to arrive. Sometimes the item never arrives, and the store disappears or stops responding. The seller drop-ships the item from China. The item may only cost a few dollars, and the Chinese government actually pays for the shipping. You end up paying $10-$15 dollars for a $4 item, with the scammer keeping the profit. If you find one of these scams but really have your heart set on the item, you can find it on AliExpress or another Chinese retailer.
Influencer scams
A user will reach out to you on a social media platform, usually Instagram, and offer you the chance to partner with them and receive a free/discounted product, as long as you pay shipping. This is a different version of the dropshipping scam, and is just a marketing technique to get you to buy their products.
Triangulation fraud
Triangulation fraud occurs when you make a purchase on a site like Amazon or eBay for an item at a lower than market price, and receive an item that was clearly purchased new at full price. The scammer uses a stolen credit card to order your item, while the money from the listing is almost all profit for the scammer.
Instagram influencer scams
Someone will message you on Instagram asking you to promote their products, and offering you a discount code. The items are Chinese junk, and the offer is made to many people at a time.
Cheap Items
Many websites pop up and offer expensive products, including electronics, clothes, watches, sunglasses, and shoes at very low prices. The scam: Some sites are selling cheap knock-offs. Some will just take your money and run. What to do if you think you're involved with this scam: Contact your bank or credit card and dispute the charge. How to avoid: The sites often have every brand-name shoe or fashion item (Air Jordan, Yeezy, Gucci, etc) in stock and often at a discounted price. The site will claim to be an outlet for a major brand or even a specific line or item. The site will have images at the bottom claiming to be Secured by Norton or various official payment processors but not actual links. The site will have poor grammar and a mish-mash of categories. Recently, established websites will get hacked or their domain name jacked and turned into scam stores, meaning the domain name of the store will be completely unrelated to the items they're selling. If the deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Nobody is offering brand new iPhones or Beats or Nintendo Switches for 75% off.
Cheap Amazon 3rd Party Items
You're on Amazon or maybe just Googling for an item and you see it for an unbelievable price from a third-party seller. You know Amazon has your back so you order it. The scam: One of three things usually happen: 1) The seller marks the items as shipped and sends a fake tracking number. Amazon releases the funds to the seller, and the seller disappears. Amazon ultimately refunds your money. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to re-order the item directly from their website, usually with the guarantee that the order is still protected by Amazon. The seller takes your money and runs. Amazon informs you that they do not offer protection on items sold outside of Amazon and cannot help you. 2) The seller immediately cancels the order and instructs you to instead send payment via an unused Amazon gift card by sending the code on the back via email. Once the seller uses the code, the money on the card is gone and cannot be refunded. How to avoid: These scammers can be identified by looking at their Amazon storefronts. They'll be brand new sellers offering a wide range of items at unbelievable prices. Usually their Amazon names will be gibberish, or a variation on FIRSTNAME.LASTNAME. Occasionally however, established storefronts will be hacked. If the deal is too good to be true its most likely a scam.
Scams on eBay
There are scams on eBay targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who privately message you regarding the order, especially if they ask you to ship to a different address or ask to negotiate via text/email/a messaging service. As a buyer you should look out for new accounts selling in-demand items, established accounts selling in-demand items that they have no previous connection to (you can check their feedback history for a general idea of what they bought/sold in the past), and lookout for people who ask you to go off eBay and use another service to complete the transaction. In many cases you will receive a fake tracking number and your money will be help up for up to a month.
Scams on Amazon
There are scams on Amazon targeting both buyers and sellers. As a seller, you should look out for people who message you about a listing. As a buyer you should look out for listings that have an email address for you to contact the person to complete the transaction, and you should look out for cheap listings of in-demand items.
Scams on Reddit
Reddit accounts are frequently purchased and sold by fraudsters who wish to use the high karma count + the age of the account to scam people on buy/sell subreddits. You need to take precautions and be safe whenever you are making a transaction online.
Computer scams
Virus scam
A popup or other ad will say that you have a virus and you need to follow their advice in order to remove it. They are lying, and either want you to install malware or pay for their software.

Assorted scams

Chinese Brushing / direct shipping
If you have ever received an unsolicited small package from China, your address was used to brush. Vendors place fake orders for their own products and send out the orders so that they can increase their ratings.
Money flipping
Scammer claims to be a banking insider who can double/triple/bazoople any amount of money you send them, with no consequences of any kind. Obviously, the money disappears into their wallet the moment you send it.

General resources

Site to report scams in the United Kingdom: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Site to report scams in the United States: https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Site to report scams in Canada: www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm
Site to report scams in Europe: https://www.europol.europa.eu/report-a-crime/report-cybercrime-online
FTC scam alerts: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts
Microsoft's anti-scam guide: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/safety/online-privacy/avoid-phone-scams.aspx
submitted by EugeneBYMCMB to Scams

It took me 4 long years to finish this game

It took me 4 long years to finish this game
Hi, everyone! I’d like to share my experience, and namely my experience of a slightly protracted developing a plain and simple point-and-click quest.

30 wasted years


I was 21. I was young and I hold a web designer position at an ad agency. I had enough money only to rent a house and have some plain snacks, but I was pretty resilient, because that was my first job..
At some point I came across some flash blogs with extremely successful stories of simple workers. And every day I was getting more and more excited about the idea of throwing up my job and trying to create a game for further selling my product. While there were no clients in the office I composed the following prototype.
It was playable and made entirely on my own — this fact is very inspiring to heroic deeds.
Finally my hour X arrived. After working exactly a year I quitted and came back to my home village. With a crumbling computer and a graphic tablet at hand I started creating a full-fledged adventure based on my prototype.

Good old times
The first flub — computer’s RW memory was 2 GB it did not cope with Flash and Photoshop open at the same time. I bought 2 more GB and the ball started rolling.
I really like “Machinarium” and “Samorost”, I’m truly in love with their visual and sound design. Being inspired after five months of work I released my first game — Shapik: the quest, the quest of my dream.

Shapik: the quest - Trailer
“Shapik” is the best name I managed to create for this game where the hero wore a hat (“Shapik” sounds very similar to the Ukrainian word “шапка” meaning “hat?).

Some details of the developing process

I painted with a help of Wacom Bamboo A5 graphic tablet. That was the first experience of real painting I had used the tablet for creating web-layouts Backgrounds were created with a help of Photoshop and animations were done with a help of Flash.

Sketch #1

Sketch #2
When the first three levels were ready I fell to thinking about music. I found a composer at the Flash forum. I described him my wishes and sent screenshots of the game levels.
90% of sounds were taken from freesound.org and other sounds I recorded myself. Sounds were processed in Adobe Audition. The game obtained more than 100 sounds.
The game was ready and the task was to sell it. At that time flash-games were actively sold at FGL (flash sale) I uploaded the game. The sale lasted for three weeks. I was very worried and happy about every new bet. At a point I received a proposal equal to my annual salary at the agency. I was very happy; I was really at the top of the world.
Accidentally I came across FlashGAMM (developers’ conference) and sent the game for competition. Since the event was held in Moscow, I did not manage to visit it and the truth is that I didn’t hope that my first game could win something.
A miracle happened, three days before the start of the conference a notification came, it informed that my game was nominated in three categories at the same time. I asked a friend of mine who was at the conference to watch what would happen next. And he wrote that my quest won in the “Best Future Mobile Game” category and the main prize — Microsoft Surface. There was no limit to my joy — I felt a tough indie-developer.


On a dream run I found a programmer and we stamped physical puzzle-platformers thick and fast.
Web games
In addition during that period there was a mass shift from flash to handles.
I remember that once I created quite a good quest and I ported it to Android with a help of Adobe AIR in order to keep pace with this trend. Fortunately the entire process of porting was done with the click of a single button “publish”.
The game was presented in Google Play. Since I hadn’t the wit to tie advertisements and I considered the game too small to be a paid one it was presented as a free game. I uploaded it and forgot about it never counting on any success: the task was to create a game for the mobile platform.
I hadn’t got any Android device and I didn’t visit the shop at all. At one of the parties a friend of mine took out Samsung Galaxy S5 (for that period of time that was a device with an enormous diagonal line and a really mighty display). And I decided to have a look at how my mobile brainchild was doing, and to my amazement I discovered 35000+ installations and over 800 comments. I was really shocked.
On the basis of that the idea of creating another game was born. This another game had to be twice as cool and interesting.

Shapik: the quest 2, 2015

The general story of a nuclear war and its consequences appeared very quickly.
Literally in three days the first level was ready with Adobe Flash.
I also painted the main character. In comparison with the previous one he had a sound body, head and neck. His predecessor was a sausage-like creature.

Old vs new
The game was in Full HD and a simple flash didn’t cope with the load. There was a need to rewrite on GPU (starling). I’m not a programmer at all, so I wrote a post on gamedev.ru about searching a partner.
Five persons wrote back. The first one didn’t answer, so I got in touch with the second fellow and the ball was set rolling.
The rest of 2015, the programmer learned to work with the GPU flash, I learned to paint and animate.


Although we didn’t have experience at all the process of development was going with a lot of pep. I really felt that we were a single team.
Our brain storms on Skype alone were a real story. There were periods when nothing new entered my head for a couple of days in a row but as soon as we got in touch ideas were coming by themselves.
It worked approximately as follows.
  • We discussed a new concept of a level or a brain-teaser;
  • Often the programmer drew it schematically;
  • Branches and animations were described.
Samples of levels from sketches to the final variants
Then we performed tests. I formed a list of edits and sent it to the programmer. The entire working process went through Dropbox.
Active development took a year.
12 levels and a demo were ready and that was twice as much as in case with the first part. I uploaded the result of our work to Steam Greenlight. And we got the green light within two weeks.
And there it came home to us that the game didn’t have any plot at all and its levels were in fact a set of separate brain-teasers. In addition to that the levels were very short and the game had bad sound effects and music.


We developed the plot. The programmer was really successful in that.
We added levels, cutscenes, new animations.
I painted components for animations using Photoshop and animated with a help of Flash
30 sec
Our team was supplemented with a composesound designer. An atmospheric soundtrack as well as the coolest sound effects were created.
The game was felt with renewed vigor.
Due to some specific features of the project synching is not fast, since each animation is a mini-cartoon requiring unique sounds.
Sound design


The quest was 80% ready; almost all levels were finished and equipped with sounds; cutscenes, a note pad of tips and the main menu were missing.
I created cutscenes with a help of Flash and then I exported video. With large volumes Flash was really slow. So, I had to compose separate scenes and only then I could combine them. It made the process very slow.
In the process of work the Menu was thought out on separate sheets of pape It looked cool and the main thing was that it didn’t have any text.

Main menu


The beginning of 2019. The game was ready and it was played through from the beginning to the end but it wasn’t tested properly, there were some minor bugs and some bonuses hadn’t been added. We were in limbo: on one side the game was ready and on the other side it wasn’t.
HTML5 games and Flash games were not sold at all. In parallel with developing “Shapik: the quest 2” we all worked on other projects — those other projects gave us something for living and continuing developing.
The programmer got a job at an office. Although I was optimistic, I understood that the things wouldn’t be as before.
Within a month nothing was done for the game, and we never got in touch — that was for the first time. The programmer was very much tired at work and I didn’t blame him. I was working hard on testing and composing the list of edits.
Edits were implemented on weekends; sometimes there were two weeks long idle periods. I was frustrated and upset as such pace it would drag on the process for another couple of years.
I asked the programmer to create a folder with the game sources (that had to be done in the very beginning of development — a ton of time would be saved). I started picking at the art, animations, atlases and a home-made editor of scenes.
The editor is a story in its own right. Game resolution was 1920x1080, and editor’s windows were 600x550. Working in such a small window required really many camera motions and the editor was really slow. In addition to that it didn’t have “cancel” function, so if something was bungled only the last saving could save.
The editor could open and play .gaf animations, which were then placed on stage. After the entire art elements and animations were placed I pressed “Save” and obtained a really long line of parameters which had to be brought to the FlashDevelop and then compiled.

The FlashDevelop and that very line
If something shifted I had to repeat the operation. Editing a minor thing took a ton of time.
Finally I couldn’t stand that any more. I got to the initial code of the editor and found the line responsible for the workspace size. I changed it to 1920x1080 and so the entire level could be viewed wholly. I also compiled the editor as a separate application and all brakes were over. I don’t know why we hadn’t done that before but suffered torments for so many years.
Spring period. I had a lucid moment and became aware that levels made in 2017 looked empty and were of poor quality. The same was true about cutscenes, brain-teasers and animations. A new wave of improvements was going on…
The sound designer was also very busy then, synching suspended.
I renewed all levels; we composed a new demo version. It was the time to create a teaser for the game.
I cut video and tried to edit it. Intermediate steps were discussed with the programmer and the sound designer. That was my first experience and it took a lot of time.
Shapik The Moon Quest - Trailer
We understood that we had to get rid of “2” in the name “Shapik: the quest 2”. A new name was created — “Shapik: the moon quest”.
Publishers. Who are they and how should one work with them? I had no idea about this. I found a cool article telling about game pitching.
I sent it to everybody in the list. 20 out of 60 persons answered; 5 of them are really interested; I got answers once per week.
Early summer period. I picked the game alone. I read forums hoping to find some info concerning removing bugs. I brought edits to the code, corrected jerks in animations, cut video for post-synching; In some places I corrected sounds, set up the assembly, communicated with editors, got acquainted with Steam and was engaged in resource optimization.
I got a feeling that I’m the only one who needs the game. I spent weeks waiting until few edits are closed. the very moment of waiting was very tedious, and it wasn’t clear what to do next. I couldn’t give up the game when it was 95% ready but I also couldn’t finish the work myself. Releasing a bugged project wasn’t a variant as well.
I went to a three week walking tour to the Carpathians. In the mountains there is no mobile communication, and the Internet is even less so. It really helped me to get mind off things.

Before the walking tour I uploaded the list of edits.
When I came back three weeks later I discovered that the list hadn’t even been opened. For the first time during the entire period of working I was burnt. At that moment it seemed to me that the game was pissed on.
The period of depression started. I could think of nothing but the game but I couldn’t find a way out of that situation

That was the time to change something. The time of office work had arrived.

Office Time
It seemed that during my work on casual projects I had gained some experience; and so, I looked for animator vacancies.
I quickly got answers with test tasks. I performed the tasks and so I was invited for interviews.
It happened that two interviews were on the same day. The way from my village to Kiev takes 10 hours by train. The train arrived at 8 AM and the first interview was planned for 11 AM.

Let’s go to the interview!
So, I was in Kiev walking around the city. I was really worried: that was my second interview and the first one at a serious company and I had no idea what was waiting for me there.
At 9 AM I received a message.
Good morning,Terribly sorry, but we are forced to report that we cannot accept you for an interview — your age is not suitable.
I thought that was a mistake because my age had been suitable for them before and if they had invited me for a real meeting my test task was OK; and I had already arrived to Kiev spending time near their office. I called them back and the text of the previous message was repeated to me.
What kind of answer was that? What was all that nonsense..?
The next interview was planned for 2 PM I was walking around the city moving smoothly to the meeting place. Half an hour before the interview the following occurred.
Terribly sorry, but we are forced to cancel the interview. You do not suit us. We will not specify the reason so that it doesn’t look like a call to action.
I am completely at a loss; the interviews had ended before they could begin. It turned out that I was old and castaway.
Alone in Kiev
I was slowly dragging my feet along St. Andrew’s Descent. I came into a small café where I met an old acquaintance of mine. Over glasses of beers the day ceased to be sad. My train back was at 9 PM
So, to say that after my “employment” I was depressed would be an understatement.
Upon arrival home, my sense of helplessness became five times stronger. I turned out that in my age of 30 I was very old.
I realized that the distressful quest had to be brought to release. We got in touch again, told how everyone is doing, and discussed my burnt state as well as what might be done to complete the work.
I was set free and I had got my second wind. I complete tons of animations and art elements which had been previously put off. I worked hard on testing the game and compiling the list of edits. And finally I designed the web-site and a web-page on Steam
Concerning my burnt state. At that moment I probably inhaled too much fresh Carpathian air. How can felt burnt when the project is held in place with enthusiasm.


At the beginning of the year the programmer had a vacation, and we manage to close all the bugs and edits. All the music and sound effects are also completely ready.
The game has got 22 levels, 90 minutes of game music and over 1,000 unique animations and sounds.
Shapik: the moon quest
At the moment, I can confidently say that the game is completely ready (I just can’t believe this). Shapik: The Moon Quest released on Steam 5 day ago.
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1073810/Shapik_the_moon_quest/
Summing up I’d like to define mistakes we made.
  • Lack of script and no understanding of what the game will be like;
  • Constant underestimation of real time frames;
  • A wish to make 100500 pieces;
  • Lack of proper tools (game scene editor, version control system, assembler);
  • Lack of proper testing;
  • Work with the community.
This post was written not for the sake of whining or to arouse pity, but in order to show the everyday life of a simple developer.
And there is one more thing I’d like to note:
I have great respect for the programmer and the sound designer due to the fact that we like crazy ones are finishing what we think is right and are trying to do it cool while hundreds of other “adequate” developers would have turned around and left for a long time ago.In general, it is very funny that the three lefty dudes from the Flash forum managed to finish the game.
P.S. Plans for the future:
  • to find a job (a revolutionary position of a watchman-programmer has been recently offered). The Responsibilities include: advertising products on the Internet, creating business cards / leaflets, tours around the territory every hour).
submitted by paulp_ws to gamedev

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