A recent conversation with a couple of users in the chatbox asking about how RWT works prompted the need for a guide on how to stay safe when buying and/or selling virtual goods. While a lot of this information may be common sense to some, there's no harm in putting it out in the public domain to help keep people safe from being ripped off. Buying/Selling: You pay real life money in exchange for virtual goods. As an example, in the case of Runescape, you pay $10.00 for 10 Million Runescape gold - the rate per million is either advertised by the seller, or negotiated between both parties who agree on a final figure. How it works: Buyer contacts seller, wishing to purchase Runescape gold Buyer agrees to pay seller X for Runescape Gold Buyer transfers seller money through a payment method, eg: PayPal Seller confirms they have received the real life money Buyer and seller meeting in game, buyer is given the Runescape gold they purchased Transaction is complete Risks: As a buyer and a seller, there are risks involved in trading virtual goods. It isn't like the real world where you walk in to a store and pay for something at the same time as receiving an item or service. In the online world there is a delay involved - someone has to go first and someone has to wait and be left exposed. As a buyer, there is always a risk that if you send someone your real life money first, that they will disappear and never give you the virtual items you have purchased. As a seller, there is a risk that after you complete a transaction with someone, they will attempt to perform a "charge back" against you. Generally this is only possibly with services such as PayPal. A charge back is when a buyer creates a claim with PayPal stating that although they sent you the money, you never gave them the virtual item they purchased. You may well have actually given them the item they purchased, however they are trying to reclaim their money to scam you. PayPal is difficult to deal with as a buyer and seller in this regard, and there is little you can do to take control of the situation - you will need to provide PayPal with evidence to argue your side of the story. How can I stay safe? As a buyer: Only purchase from reputable sources Websites that have been established for a long time with a proven track record for being legitimate. Note: Websites can fake reviews and vouches to try and gain your trust, so proceed at your own risk. Forum users who are trusted/have multiple vouches confirming they have bought/sold items before without issues As a seller: Only sell to people you believe are legitimate. Although it is hard to tell a person's true intentions from their online presence, in the case of online forums like Runemate, there are several things that can help make someone appear legitimate including: Vouches/reviews from other members Activity on forums How long they have been a member Again, a lot of this information can be faked or inaccurate - at the end of the day the choice is up to you who you sell to. As a buyer/seller: Use a middle-man service. A middle-man is a trusted user who acts as the person in the middle of your transaction. Once the middle-man has confirmed they have received the gold from the seller, the middle-man will instruct the buyer to make payment to the seller. Once they seller verifies they have the real life money, the middle-man then releases the gold to the purchaser. At the end of the day there are a multitude of ways you can both stay safe and be scammed. Trust your gut and only sell to or buy from people you think are trustworthy. Remember the old saying: if it's too good to be true, it probably is.