Safety First

If you run a shop, a small minority of your customers will shoplift and steal your goods. If you run a bank, a small minority of folks will don a mask, hide a shotgun under their jacket, and attempt to take the money.

I know this, yet in my cosy little world, I was still relatively unprepared for the small number of scammers and time-wasters who stumble upon the Swopster site. It shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, I guess, but it is disappointing when folks indulge in this sort of behaviour on a free, well-intentioned site.

Slowly but surely, changes for safety and fraud prevention have been made to mitigate the threats the pond-life pose.

Following an analysis of the few swaps that had gone wrong, I’ve made a number of changes:

•  New Members
When selecting folks to swap with, you are now warned if they are new members. Similarly, you are also warned if they haven’t logged on for a while.

This came about because in every swapping dispute, the rogue swapper was either a very new member or never bothered returning to the site after initially signing up.

•  Safety Recommendations
A lot more emphasis on safety was made, with specific recommendations for safe swapping displayed on a number of critical pages.

This was done because some people were being a little too trusting, sending their game off via the cheapest (and least safe method) and then wondering where it had all gone wrong.

•  Auditing
Full logging of changes to personal information has been added. Also, members can no longer change their names without calling on support.

This happened after someone deliberately tried to hide their tracks by changing name, e-mail, address, etc. after a swap.

Getting Tough

I also decided a more aggressive approach needed to be followed against the rogue swappers:

•  Internet Detective
Tracking down those who had reneged on swaps. This was surprisingly easy to do and rather satisfying. The amount of personal information available on the net is actually a bit scary. However, to safeguard the integrity of the site, I will happily go after any suspected scammers.
•  Hall of Shame
Public shaming of those who attempt to scam – although not that many swaps had gone wrong, I decided to get tough with anyone who broke the terms and conditions and deliberately reneged on a swap. So scammers may end up on a Hall of Shame page.

Using a variety of these techniques, I’ve managed to sort out 100% of the swaps that went wrong so far.

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