Diablo 2 Scammer Inadvertently Shines Spotlight On Self

Robert usually writes about energy and the environment on his blog. However, he recently ran into a scammer online, and surprised the scammer by fighting back:

After I didn’t roll over for him, he resorted to sending me numerous threats and harassing e-mails, going so far as to threaten harm to my elementary school aged son. I wasn’t about to let him get away with this.

Robert has a detailed account of what happened on his blog, but the short version is this: he tried to buy a 2nd Diablo 2 key/license so that he could play the game with his son. He found a service called Diablo-Keys.com (also known as d2keys.com) that promised Diablo 2 keys for $5.

The key didn’t work, however. That’s when Robert started digging and realized that this guy has been around for a while, taking in $5 payments for non-working keys, and that Robert clearly wasn’t the only person who had been scammed.

From there, Robert and the scammer started going back and forth via email. The initial exchanges were polite, but at some point the scammer invented a fake law firm and sent legal threats to Robert. Robert called his bluff on the threats, they went back and forth some more, and then Robert told him that he was going to share their correspondence with the public.

The scammer wrote back,

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Go ahead and post on your shitty blog that nobody reads. We aren’t afraid of you and your bullshit threat. Feel free to take my dick, put it in your mouth, and such [sic] it hard ^_^

So Robert posted the full story not just on his blog, but on Reddit. Surprise, you’re Internet Famous now, scammer!

“I’m a person who got scammed by the diablo 2 keys guy. AMA.” [Reddit] (Thanks to David!)
“Exposing a Two-Bit Scammer” [R-Squared Energy Blog]

Comments

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  1. Mackinstyle says:

    I was hoping for some climax to this story where the guy is put out of business by getting Paypal or something after him. Outing a scammer to the Internet doesn’t really seem all that impressive anymore.

  2. hypnotik_jello says:

    Well, this guy doesn’t exactly have the moral high ground as he was trying to buy serials/license instead of buying another copy of the game?

  3. Schildkrote says:

    Or you could just buy a (still readily available years after release) legitimate copy of Diablo 2 instead of essentially scamming Blizzard. That way you won’t have to worry about dealing with scammers AND you support the people who made a game you enjoy.

    • Jesse says:

      I checked Amazon and you can pick up a used copy for around $10 shipped. The video game is nine years old and I’m sure the savvy consumer could even find it for cheaper.

      • Schildkrote says:

        Even if you’re not a savvy consumer the game and its expansion are still sold as a bundle pretty much everywhere. Sure, it’s for around $30, but it beats buying shady (probably stolen) disc keys then throwing an unwarranted tantrum when you get burned.

  4. scouts honor says:

    I’m surprised 4chan didn’t get involved.

  5. Xerloq says:

    This never would have happened had he made his own Diablo 2 keys at home.

    Somebody had to say it.

    Dispute charges, track down address from WHOIS on website, small claims court, have sheriff seize the guys property when he doesn’t pay.

  6. Kamidari says:

    Somehow this seems like calling 911 when you got ripped off on a drug deal or something.

  7. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Not a bad scam. By only taking 5 bucks, virtually nobody (Robert being the exception) will bother doing anything. They’d likely chalk it up to “Caveat Emptor.” Reminds me of the time a stripper shook us down (bachelor party) for 5 bucks because the bachelor was getting too frisky. Any higher, we would have walked out. Instead, someone forked over a dead Lincoln.

    Really, the scammer screwed up by getting into an internet pissing contest here. He should have just laid low and ignored the emails.

  8. LostTurntable says:

    So…he tried to buy an illegal cracked code for a game and got burned? Don’t get me wrong I’m glad the scammer got exposed but didn’t this guy try to break the law?

  9. ElizabethD says:

    Bravo for Robert. That being said (anyone else watch the final “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode?), I am green with envy that anyone has the time to investigate and document all this! (aside from a paid investigator, that is)

    I want to see updates and press coverage when the Quebec guy goes to court.

  10. eltigreferoz says:

    Sorry…but WTF is Diablo 2? The internet never ceases to impress and inform me…and alternately make me feel like an altogether more stable person.

  11. FDCPAGuy says:

    I have a legit CD key on the jewel case I just fished out of my garage… I wonder if the OP will read this. He can have it. I might email Consumerist and give it to them.

  12. NoThankYou says:

    Although I like a good internet revenge story, the scammed person should have just purchased a legal license directly from Blizzard.

    This story really shouldn’t get that much praise due to the shady dealing Robert was partaking in.

  13. gatortarheel says:

    Does this belong on consumerist?

    Someone who was trying to scam Blizzard got scammed himself.
    You can buy a legitimate copy of Diablo2 at Walmart.com for $19.93.

    • amuro98 says:

      Yeah, where’s the image from Blizzard.com with the scammer’s head on a pike in their front entry way?

      His face forever frozen in a silent scream of pain and terror, acting as a warning for any other would-be scammers out there that there are some people you just do not ripoff.

  14. Kid Awesome says:

    Surprise you both were trying to break the law! No winner here.

  15. ilves says:

    Ok, for 1) Diablo two is what, 10 years old now or more? For those who don’t know its a super popular video game, or used to be, mostly played online. Same guys who make World of Warcraft. 2) Buying a key online from anyone who is not Blizzard (the game developer) is almost 100% sure to be illegal. You can buy the game from Blizzard online right now, and since the key is really what’s crucial in playing online, you’re really buying a key rather than the game anyway. So basically the guy got scammed while doing something illegal (whether he knew it or not) and he’s complaining? LOL

  16. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    I hope the next Consumerist article says..

    Blizzard Entertainment sues man for attempting to buy illegal CD keys and posting about it on the internet.

  17. redrolla says:

    The fake lawyer’s web site, http://www.karlsonandkarlson.com, is so bad it’s hilarious! Their “team” are just pictures of HP execs.

    • Kid Awesome says:

      The site is down now. :(

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      Wow, that’s hardly even ENGLISH on that site!

      “Karlson and Karlson offers many services in litigious procedures related to commercial purposes, such as trademark infringuement, copyrights violations and commercial litigations, i.e. claims arising from a company’s normal way of operating. Mtr. M. Karlson has been practicing in this field since 1991 and Mtr. J. Karlson has working in the civil field from 1998-2002 and in the commercial field since then.”

      (Also, the ages of the “lawyers” in their pictures are all wrong.)

  18. seangrimm says:

    Sale of product keys is not entirely illegal based on where you live, it is a thriving business in parts of Asia. It all depends on the product, lots of software can be downloaded in trial-version and you purchase a key to unlock the full product at a cost. Not sure how you’d go about it but you’ll want to check the laws before you go buying CD keys off the internet, and if you’re concerned about illegality or illegitimacy then spend the extra money on a retail copy.

  19. Saxmoore says:

    I can appreciate sticking it to a scammer. Who doesn’t like a good story like that? But I’m having a hard time having sympathy for someone who was knowingly buying illegal keys. It’s kinda hard for me to look at him as a hero when he wouldn’t have been in this mess if he had just done things right. Still….I like to see a scammer get his comeuppance. I am torn.

  20. tundey says:

    This is a case of a thief being outwitted by another thief. Moral of the story: don’t buy license keys from untrusted sources. Buy from the game publisher.

  21. spazztastic says:

    See, now this wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t trying to beat the activation on the software.

  22. dolemite says:

    This is like posting about how a carjacker fought off a drug dealer that was trying to steal the car he just stole. I mean… I’m cheap, but I never buy cracks, torrents, etc., and I’d definately shell out $10-$15 for diablo 2, instead of trying to find some cracked code so my kid could play it, rather than deal with internet scum.

    • Ecks says:

      He was trying to buy a legit key. There are key resellers out there for games, as some countries just sell people a key along with a digital download.

      • FreshPorcupineSalad says:

        There are no key resellers for Diablo 2 or any Blizzard title.

      • admiral_stabbin says:

        This reminds me of “allofmp3.com”. They’re a Russian site that sold MP3s of current, popular music here in the States. They’ve even gotten Russian courts to deem what they are doing as legal. They previously had (nearly) convincing stories on their web site advertising their legitimacy. The fact of the matter is that they were not legit, and the clueless clowns that bought from them were funding a non-violent (I hope) form of organized crime…while breaking the law here in the States (if they were from here).

        Technically, if you purchase and use a software product like “AnyDVD” (www.slysoft.com) here in the States, then you are in clear violation of the DMCA…even if you are using their software to make personal backups of your favorite DVDs.

        In the end, buying stolen goods is buying stolen goods. I hope the OP sticks to Gamestop for his future purchases.

  23. dnrobert24 says:

    The scammer ended up threatening the guy’s kid. I think that takes the scam to a bit different level…not to mention impersonating a lawyer to try to extort $5,000. I think the beauty of the story is the guy has no conscience whatsoever and is about to get nailed.

  24. richnewman says:

    It IS possible to buy just a legit CD-key, so many misinformed (stupid?) people. Nothing says he was trying to be an illegal key. MANY sellers will scratch off and email you the key if you don’t want to pay for shipping.

  25. Anne Boleyn says:

    Mind you, Robert posted it to reddit only because the scammer made a post and started stealing from a lot of people on there. However, the post has since been removed and the poster banned from reddit.

  26. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Lmao, looking at the source code for the phony lawfirm site the guy made, I couldn’t help but notice this gem:
    “Note: This is a free template released under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license,
    which means you can use it in any way you want provided you keep the link to the author intact”

  27. twitch201 says:

    there is nothing wrong with buying a legit Serial or CD-Key from another site, its called saving money.

  28. W. says:

    I don’t really know how legit CD-keys are in general but I remember getting one for Diablo 2 from one of the Consumerist’s morning deals last year…

    http://consumerist.com/2008/07/morning-deals-429.html

  29. dwrichards says:

    To all of you who think that the guy was knowingly buying an illegal key, you must have never played an online game that authenticates to a server. You need a valid key that the publisher of the game creates. The key can only be used by one person at a time. Using a key generator just doesn’t cut it. I just purchased a valid copy of World of Warcraft for my son for $4.99. It is fully recognized by Blizzard as a valid game key. Blizzard is the company that makes Diablo 2 as well as WoW. This guy wasn’t trying to beat the activation of the product, he was just looking for a valid key to use.

  30. Rhyss says:

    I guess the only major issue I have, if it’s true, is threatening a family member, especially a child. That tips the scales of wrong-doing for me personally.

  31. The Commenter Formerly Known as StartingAces says:

    I’ve used a Diablo 2 key place before (key has been and still is valid, I occasionally play on my netbook). Here’s how they claimed it worked (I asked via email and got a quick reply, had a long and interesting dialogue) :software retailer goes out of business. Sells bulk batches of old games. Guy who works for liquidating company snags 5,000 copies of D2 and the expansion for pennies apiece. Basically, if Target wanted to buy the games from them for nothing, the shipping would make it cost nearly the same as it would to buy them from a regular bulk warehouse. By opening the box and just selling the keys (you can put them into Blizzard.com) it saved money on both ends. Blizzard still gets paid, because the original retailer paid to put the copies in their now-defunct store.

    This could all be BS (stolen copies, etc), but my key works (bought ones to replace my day-1 retail bought copies), and I felt like the responses and conversation were not the type someone covering a felony would have.

  32. midwestkel says:

    Well the websites are suspended from the host if that helps satisfy you.

  33. Mackinstyle says:

    It sure does. =)

  34. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Someone once said something to the effect of, “It’s hard to cheat an honest man”. I want to say it was W. C. Fields but I’m not sure.

  35. Synth3t1c says:

    there are sites that sell these keys legally. you essentially save the company costs for boxes and discs and shipping and stuff.

  36. RevancheRM says:

    Is this just an assumption (that he was illegally trying to buy a key)? It seems to me that if the company makes extra keys available thru retailers, then it s a viable business.

  37. kmw2 says:

    Ironically untrue – honest men are the easiest to cheat, because they assume everyone else is honest too. There’s a whole range of scams designed specifically to take advantage of trust instead of greed.

  38. H3ion says:

    W.C. Fields. “You can’t cheat an honest man” from the movie of the same name.