Although many traders on the Trading Post forum are legitimate traders, there have always been people who are unscrupulous enough to scam items out of other players without giving them the items that are rightfully theirs for winning the trade. The number of scammers was on the rise a few years ago, but good management on the part of forum moderators and players who are able to vouch for others has drastically reduced the amount of scamming that occurs on the Trading Post. Still, I hope that this guide will be helpful to those of you who are concerned about being swindled by a potential scammer.
Before doing anything else, check the Scammers List for a list of players that you should be wary of doing business with. If you've been scammed by a player whose name isn't on the list, be sure to post on that thread and provide details about the things that went wrong with the trade. However, you might want to wait a few days until after the trade is over because it takes time for some players to send things.
If you're new to the Trading Post or haven't gained the trust of other traders, you may have no choice but to be the person who has to send first. Consider this to be a rite of passage, for you will have to conduct many transactions with other traders before you can gain their trust. Even if the trader is nice enough to give you a chance by sending his or her items at the same time, it's unlikely that many other traders are going to want to trade with you unless the items that are being traded aren't that big of a deal to them.
Those who have made multiple transactions with other traders on the Trading Post forum are more than likely to have people who are willing to vouch for his or her legitimacy. After successful transactions, a trust is built between two traders who then become friends and may offer to help each other bid on items that each trader wants by offering additional items to strengthen his or her bid. Those who are new to the Trading Post, however, don't have the luxury of being able to rely on others to vouch for them.
In general, the trader has to have made multiple transactions with that trader and with other traders, seeing that there have been traders in the past who would send items the first time and then wait for a different time to scam the same trader out of his or her items as soon as he or she acquired better ones.
The Middleman Approach
If you don't trust the other trader or if the other trader doesn't trust you, you can always consult a middleman to handle the transaction for you. The middleman is a person who receives the items from both parties and exchanges them to the other after verifying that each party has sent the correct items.
Getting in Touch
Getting in touch with other traders is a good way of promoting honest trading. After making successful transactions with other traders, you may want to ask for their contact information so that you can make private transactions with them whenever you find some good items. It's also easier and better than using DC mail because you don't have to wait a whole day to pick up a note from the Post Office.
If you're absolutely certain that the other trader isn't going to live up to his or her bargain, you can ask the trader to send half of the items while also offering to send that trader half of your items at the same time. This is good because if the person turns out to be a scammer, you'll receive half of his or her items and at least get something out of the trade. If the person doesn't send anything at all, you can cut your losses by half and not send the other half of the items. However, this transaction isn't always effective because the other person can simply forget to send the other half of the shipment.
Sending a Note
Back then, it was absolutely imperative for a trader to send a note to the person that he or she was trading with because there were so many transactions on the Trading Post that a thread could be pushed off the page in as little as four hours. The Trading Post also used to reset every few days or so, placing even greater importance on sending notes to other traders. Today, sending a note to a trader is still a good idea because it never hurts to remind him or her about what's being traded.
Trading with New or Weak Characters
When it was still possible to peer other characters without having to pay Opals, it was widely believed that any character who had low stats was likely to be a scammer who didn't have access to great weapons or items due to the fact that the character hadn't been playing long enough to acquire them. People learned to be wary of scammers who would create new characters in an effort to scam unsuspecting players and then wait for their character to be taken away by the reaper after taking advantage of others. Some of the scammers tried to use the excuse that their character wasn't their main character, but it was easily refuted because the person could've just as easily provided the name of their main character and used it to post on the forum. Suspicious traders were also asked to equip weapons to show that they had them, but this wasn't always effective because there wasn't a way to determine the stats of their weapons by simply peering them and it'd only work if the person was trading a Right, Body, or Right/Left armament.
People who had low stats generally shouldn't have had any business in the Trading Post anyway because it meant that they were inexperienced, not aware of the concept of scamming, and/or didn't know the values of the items that they were trading. Today, however, new traders are a little more accepted by others due to various methods of trading that are mentioned above that can help the new trader gain a reputation on the Trading Post.