Diablo 3 Auction House: Watch Out for Gem Price Scams

I’ve seen player comments on this of late, and saw it myself in the Diablo 3 Auction House the other night. People are running a new scam where they list 10 gems (of whatever quality) for a very low price, then use a second computer to buy them as soon as they’re listed. This costs them the 15% gold sale fee, but that’s negligible on a low price item.

The purpose of this is to trick the auto price setting mechanism of the GAH into setting lower default prices for other people posting their auctions. So the scammers sell 10 of their gems to themselves (via another account) for a tiny price, then attempt to buy more of that same item for a price well below the usual selling price, hoping that careless players will enter their own auctions of that item without noticing the much lower than usual automatic price. You can see this in action in the screenshot, which I took on the Americas GAH last night.


I took this shot after trying to sell that Star Ruby, and getting a suggested list price of under 400k. As a Star gem costs 500k just to upgrade from Flawless Squares, and Star Rubies have been selling for over 800k of late, I found that default price a bit surprising, and went to the search window to double check. Had I not done that though, and just mindlessly accepted the suggested price, I’d have sold the Ruby for half its value, (and less than it cost me to create) presumably to the price manipulating scammers who were eagerly buying up all the Star Rubies being posted for below their usual value.

I’ve seen this sort of price cheat going on with other types and qualities of gems, and I’m sure it’s been done with every other sort of commodity as well. The moral of the story, as always, is to know the rough value of what you’re selling and to be a savvy consumer, since some asshole is always looking to rip you off. In real life as well as on the Diablo 3 Auction House.

Diablo 3 Auction House Sales Update

I mentioned the big slow down I’d seen in sales in a recent economy news item, and asked if others had noticed the same thing. Feedback in the comments was mixed, with a lot of people echoing my experience while others said their auctions were still selling pretty well. Spurred by that post, I’ve taken a new approach that’s gotten my sales flowing again. Lower prices!

gah-sales-recentNo, not exactly a shocking innovation, but surprisingly effective. I’m now listing almost everything for 1/3 to 1/2 the price of comparable items, most of my auctions are selling, and the gold is adding up acceptably. This strategy requires that you find a variety of stuff to sell, and more crucially, that you make your peace with listing items for much less than they seem to be “worth.”

Not to get all existential, but nothing is worth anything in this world, or the world of Diablo 3. All value is externally-applied, and objects are only worth what someone else is willing to pay for them.

The best way I’ve found to think about it is that the *vast* majority of items in the GAH are listed at absurdly high prices that no one will ever pay. You can easily take a sort of moral stand and list your item at a high price, and insist (to your cat) that your item is clearly worth 5m, and maybe even 6 or 8m, compared to the other similar items. And then you can stroke Mr. Scruffles for consolation 36 hours later when that item is back in your stash, unsold. (Just like the owners of those overpriced items you used for your comps.)

It also helps to remind yourself that you’ve got a backlog of other items to list and that they don’t gain you any profit sitting in your stash. And that you’ll find more saleable items the next time you play, should you slow down long enough to pick up a few of them.

(Also, more MF. I hadn’t played my DH much of late, and was amazed to rediscover what a difference it is playing with 425% MF vs. ~250% MF (My DH has max MF from paragon + gear and I was farming on MP2). You don’t see *that* many more legendaries, but when virtually every boss is dropping 3 or 4 Rares (instead of 1 or 2) and those rares are regularly rolling with 5 or 6 affixes instead of 3-5 affixes… it adds up quickly. Especially if you’re only picking up the item types that have good odds of being useful/salable.)

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27 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Auction House: Watch Out for Gem Price Scams

  1. Never check commodity prices by single unit count. Always check in multiples of 50 or 100. This is a common mistake of amateurs that have never dealt with a commodity market before.

    The funny thing is you can turn the trick around to screw these people. Just sit there constantly refreshing the value of the gem (commodity) in question and buy up every single one they put up for cheap.

    • It does not work like this. If I put a star gem for 200k you wont see the auction house price of 200k you will still see 700k but if you buy 1 you will get a refund of 500k.

      Think about it… if you saw on AH that gem for 200k you would probably try to buy 10 but you would expect it to cost 2 million but how is that possible if only 1 gem is 200k and the rest are much higher?

  2. People actually making some real gold this way aren’t bothered by the 10-100 gems lost. They just pump out a steady stream for min price, take the loss, buy back in 21K batches. No need to dick around trying to get your own auction(my guess is that it’s not even possible to pull it off reliably).

    It’s mostly done on brimstones/flawless squares. Losing 500k gold is nothing for an 10K brimstone batch at 80% price and there are enough clueless guys farming to regenerate the supply in no time.

  3. Clueless guy here. I was trying to figure out what the deal was on gem prices lately. I tried the “Fuck it” approach, and just listed for what I thought my gems were worth (more than twice the default price) and they still sold pretty quick. It’s annoying though, to have to decide, rather than to just go with the default price and know that it’s close to accurate. Anyway, I’m really proud of the a-holes doing this, because at the cost of annoying everyone else who used the action house, and however many hours not spent actually playing the game, they can probably make like 8 bucks a week.

  4. The AH in many ways is dead. The only thing selling well and for anything worthwhile is Uber items…and botters are generally responsible for much of those sales. I can tell you that at 1000 hours of play time and running a DH at 300MF I have seen very few [meaning i can count them on 2 hands] usable/sellable rares or legs. Now I still nickel/dime my way to 3-4 million gold per week speculating/flipping, but whats that when if you want to get to the top tier items- they are 100s of millions.

  5. With no viable gold sink (other than a steady player attrition) it seems to be a slow painful crawl toward seeing an AH with the “best” items being worth a ridiculous amount and everything else being worth so little it’s not even worth the time and effort to list. That’s IF the player base doesn’t reach a point where too few new players are starting or old players rerolling characters to sustain the low and mid level economy. Pretty grim scenario going on if you still enjoy playing the AH which I personally view as a cancerous lesion. As you said in your post the only solution was “drop my prices” and that will be the solution again in a month and so on and so on…

    • Cancerous … Really… When will people realise this is a video game. Not a way of life and like Flux said in his article, nothing is really worth anything, not even in real life, except health.

      If you don’t like the mechanics don’t play with them. You can clearly “finish” the game after patch 1.05 without ever using the GAH. Blizzard already corrected that by nerving that ridiculous Inferno difficulty at launch.

      Since patch 1.07 brings in BOA gear massively, I guess they will no longer experiment with this dual AH for upcoming games, which I think is a loss for those people liking this mechanic.

      These days even the communists are more conservative than some “pure gamers”. Stupid dudes who think they are always “right”. I like the AH. If you don’t like it, don’t use it or play with fake chips in other games.


      • Never said it was a “way of life”. Finding all the set pieces I would like without using the AH??? Then YES it would need to be a way of life because that’s how long it would take me. “Cancerous” yes I think it is a destructive aspect of the game because it’s presence limits my ability to self find gear. Just my opinion if you love it then to each his own. I’m not going to sit here and bash you for loving it either because I know that there’s no arguing taste.

        All I do ask is that they give us an option to go without it on a fresh server maybe even a ladder server. It would be great to be able to make that choice and still enjoy the game without gimping myself. They could compensate by buffing the drop chance of set pieces and legendaries on that server pretty easily. I’ve been calling for that since beta and other than them taking a revenue loss in the AH percentages I can’t see the downside of doing that for us.

        • I still repeat it:

          Today you can start the game from scratch and finish it by killing Diablo in Inferno without ever buying things on the AH.

          All in less then 200 hours.

          Now excuse me: what makes you even think you still need the AH to kill Diablo after patch 1.05?

          To get green gear sets? You don’t need Legendaries to finish the game. Period.

          Not even in hardcore mode.

          So what’s your problem exactly ?

          • The ‘little’ problem with the AHs or the notion that you can play self-found is that I have a tempest rush monk and a multishot as well as strafe dh. All three require very specific gear dedicated to that build. High spirit regen, 4 piece innas, minimum attack speed and a big skorn for the monk; high hatred regen, lots of disc, minimum attack speed and a good black 2h xbow or a very good manticore. Good SOJs ( with multishot/ strafe/ tempest rush crit ~5-7% ) and good Mara’s with crit, critdam, skillcrit are almost required to make it a fun build. Try getting to 100k+ unbuffed dps with only 8% AS on inna pants. Think its easy? Now play self-found and build a dedicated gear set like these. How many hours do you reckon you have to farm? 5000? Nearer 10. I have just crossed 500 hours with my monk and dh combined. I spent all my gold on the GAH without RMAH transfusions to make these builds enjoyable. The TR monk is for mp0, same for strafe and mp3/4 on multishot though its a tad slow. Now somebody tells me if you don’t like the AH then play self-found and finish the game. What does that mean? Kill diablo and uninstall? Never see a full set inna/ natalya? No 5 spirit SW or bonus 20 disc for me? No 50 critdam, 8 crit, 7 skillcrit mara’s and the awesome sense of power it brings to the table? Why do you want all the fun for yourself? Why can’t I have all these goodies drop for me instead of buying off the AH? Because that feels cheap with no sense of reward. Imagine Azmodan dropping that awesome Mara’s. Would it be memorable? Hell yes! I would remember that drop till D5 ships.
            A separate server with either vastly increased droprates or real legendaries with say just 15-20% chance of being bad but still usable is the only way I can think of.
            This is not a rant.

  6. Without the game being modable and the stats accessible to users its’ mostly conjecture and anecdote, but like I said in the post, based on personal experience you really need to be over 300% to start to notice big changes, and 400% is where the legendaries and 6 affix rares start to really increase. 250% doesn’t seem to make much difference, in my experience.

    Nor should it, as you can easily 100% in cheap MF gear on your follower and 75% from 5 stacks. That puts you near 100% right there without a single item of your own, and if you’re say Paragon 15, you’re at 150% MF without a single point on your gear.

  7. Excellent post.

    I saw these same mechanics with tomes of secret, prices going from 400 to 1200 in a matter of minutes.

    I had been a victim several times, until I got the catch. Now setting on a good average like 1000 or so. As a matter of fact, they sell within seconds, be that 600 or 1000.

    Clearly the market is scammed by some.

    Nevertheless I still find both AH fascinating. A pity Blizzard will probably steer clear with this kind of AH structure with their next games…

    I like it with all its faults. pardo was right: with the included AH’s you keep playing…

  8. I’ve noticed the same thing happen for Tomes of Secrets, it’ll show last 10 trades at around 300g. I’m not sure if it’s scamming or people just listing the items and letting the system price it automatically as a couple of times I’ve bought lots of 100x and it ended up being less then half the listed price.

  9. I have been shopping around for some lacunis and a good trifecta ring. When looking for the Lacunis I noticed some of the same ones being relisted over and over for the same exorbitant price. As soon as the item would get down to 1 day 1 hour it would go right back to the top at 1 day 12 hours, which is clearly a ploy to get the people that only look at new auctions. I kinda thought to myself, man those are some dedicated people to keep that up.

    I finally settled on a decent pair(that was not in the group that was relisting) and started checking on the rings. The same relisting ploy was going on with them as well. I found one I wanted, and the price difference for the starting bid and buyout was very different. I figured I would get up early yesterday to catch it right before the auction ended, and I did. But what I noticed was another ring, of the same name and stats, listed with 1 day 8 hrs left and the one I was looking at the night before with 30 minutes left. I clicked on the auction with 30 minutes left, and the bid and buyout tabs were greyed out. So, I am assuming this was done intentionally to keep somebody from getting the ring at a cheaper price, and clear proof of a dupe, whether it be pure dupe or rollback dupe.

    This got me thinking about auction house bots, and I done a search just to see what would come up. The results turned up several links to Diablo 3 auction house bots, with descriptions and how they work. What I was experiencing with the relisting of certain items without a change in price was clearly the work of an auciton house bot. I know people have sworn off the use of captchas, but I think they are needed in the process of relisting an item. The way I see it, I would definitely put up with a captcha in the auction house to spoil the bots.

  10. HUGE PROPS to whoever pointed out that you can jump in and interrupt these low-value exchanges!!!

    I just needed to buy about a dozen flawless square emeralds, so I bought them one at a time – and 2 of the bunch ended up being only 100 gold!!!!!

  11. Interesting article. Came to D3 from WoW. AH is obviously different on commodities/materials. Was wondering why listing commodities in D3 is so different from mats in WoW or other items for that matter. Why does it combine everyone’s gem listings together instead separate listings of say “stacks” of 20 or even 100. At least that way, buyer’s know up front the price they are paying. I suppose there’s ways to “rig” that system too with bots or something. I just like to know what I’m paying before I commit to buying. Not really complaining, just curious why it is the way it is?

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