Is the new “Free 1M skillpoint” fad a scam?

Is the new “Free 1M skillpoint” fad a scam?

With the Uprising Expansion, CCP changed how the Recruit a Friend system works. You may now retroactively recruit existing accounts, which is a great way to get a million skillpoints for free and farm some bonuses if you run multiple accounts.

As a result, local chat, r/eve and Eve mail have been flooded with spam messages about free skillpoints and referral links to the point where they may appear to be typical Jita Local scams. But are they scams? Simply, no, but it closes a door you may want to keep open and opens vulnerabilities for account thieves to exploit.

Let me explain:

By clicking a referral link you are given the option to either sign up with a new account, or login with an existing account. Providing the existing account has not previously been recruited it will be linked to the account that generated the link. The account that generated the link will become the recruiter and the account you signed into (or created) becomes their recruitee. These accounts are now linked through the recruit a friend system permanently.

The recruitee will have one million skillpoints to redeem onto one of their characters and if they purchase Omega time or PLEX through the CCP website, the recruiter will receive a kickback – Apparel, BPC’s and Skins for Concord ships, Omega time or PLEX. You can see the rewards for yourself, and generate your own recruitment link, here: https://www.eveonline.com/recruit

This is a great system. A million skillpoints on top of the <400,000 you start with today is a great advantage to have, and I was thrilled to be able to add a million onto an old logi pilot I resurrected.

So what’s my problem?

Firstly, the spammers. This has caused a surge in spam in all areas of the game. Jita Local aside, most market hubs now have these messages on top of the existing scamspam, and Eve mails are being flooded by messages from newly created characters. (Side note: I received two messages within a couple of hours from the same person within seconds of entering Hek. Coincidence, or bot? That’s another kettle of fish, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume a bot is posting these messages.) This type of spam is not healthy for any game and is a bad image for new players. The game has a poor new player retention rate and it’s great to see the steps CCP have put in place since I last played, but the spam can be overwhelming for new players. To have a million skillpoints dangled in front of them like a metaphorical carrot on a string can be a no-brainer. Before, it would have required them to create a new account and start over, but now all they must do is click a link and login.

This leads me to my second problem: Once your accounts are linked, there’s no way to unlink them. You close a door you may wish to keep open. Contrary to what some may say, it is within the Terms and Conditions to recruit yourself. What you may not do is recruit an account just to discard it and farm rewards:

“The Recruitment Program is intended to encourage players to invite new players to join EVE Online as well as reap rewards for controlling multiple accounts.

Abusing the Recruitment Program (such as by creating multiple accounts that are discarded later to farm rewards) is considered an exploit and will not be tolerated.”

(CCP, 2022, https://www.eveonline.com/recruit, my emphasis)

With this knowledge, and the fact that so many people run more than one account, it would make sense to have recruited yourself or at the very least have a buddy be your recruiter so they may receive the rewards and potentially share them with you. An account cannot be both the recruitee and recruiter to the same account (a 2-account loop cannot be made), but a 3-account loop where each has recruited the other is doable now with the new system allowing retroactive recruiting.

Lastly, although less likely, is the potential for account thieves to mask their links as legitimate, but instead send you to a cloned webpage which steals your login details. As there’s a reasonable chance that money will be spent and payment information saved for use on the CCP store, the thieves may lay low with the account details and wait to log in and make fraudulent transactions. Another reason why two factor authentication and a unique password for every account is so important.

 

All in all, I think this is a great change to the recruitment programme for players old and new to take advantage of potential rewards, however, I firmly believe if the link spam goes unchecked it will ultimately have a negative effect on the game. Spammers send their messages from newly created characters and, coupled with the fact that it is not possible to identify a linked account, they retain their anonymity. It is different to scamspam and should be treated as such.

One path to change this behaviour would be for CCP to prevent the ability to post a recruitment link in chat or Eve mail. Of course, people can get around these filters, but strict moderation can act as a deterrent too. At the very least, a strict ban and moderation of posting these links in and around starter systems and in Rookie Chat should be introduced. Not only this but giving GM’s the ability to physically remove the messages from chat channels should also be made possible.

Linking an account closes the opportunity to make an informed decision about who, or, which account, you want to be your recruiter, and I would recommend CCP rectifies this by enabling you to unlink the accounts to re-link with another. Whether this could be done independently or through Player Support on a case-by-case basis, this should be an option for people who have spent their time and money building their characters up and are reluctant to start anew.

 

For those of you who like irony bordering on hypocrisy, you can expect to see me advertising my own link on this blog, though always with a link to this post.

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