Scavengers need two things to succeed for a time in Misplaced Optimism. The first is patience. You could go for a long time without finding anything to pick up for a quick buck. The other is knowledge on the trade routes the AI uses. You have to know what areas are most dangerous for pilots with expensive cargo, and be around when pirates force that good stuff to the surface so you can grab it a haul your butt to a shop to get the cash for it.