Latest Newbie Scam or Brilliant Marketing Tactic?

by prokofy on 12/02/07 at 7:20 pm


By Prokofy Neva, Dept. of Scams, Con Artists, Ponzi Schemers, and Emergent Metaversal Marketing Strategists

Americans like to think they pwn the scams on Second Life, with their long, dishonourable traditions of P.T. Barnum (“There’s a sucker born every minute”), Charles Ponzi (Italian-born), and William Thompson (“Have you confidence in me to trust me with your watch until tomorrow?).

But Americans are in the minority in Second Life now compared to Everybody Else, and the French are the largest cohort of “foreigners” at 12.73 percent, followed by Germany at 10.46 percent, UK by 8.09 percent and Dutch by 6.55 percent. So Americans are going to have to face some stiff competition when it comes to scams — and we have an early indication that they will be compelling indeed.

In Tuliptree, site of my newbies’ cheap rentals, some abandoned gov’d land was swooped by a newcomer some 10 days ago. I thought at first he might be a bot (he might still be). xav Chapman didn’t talk; but then, maybe I should have tried French. Within a week, he and his confreres were busily at work creating something called Publicenter corp., which is a kind of manpower office for newbies. With the Tuliptree and other branches, people can buy old-fashioned, beautifully-crafted sandwich boards for $0 and be paid $2 for every 10 minutes that they walk or fly around SL in them. Once called by Charles Dickens, “a piece of human flesh between two slices of paste board”, today’s cybernetic sandwich-board person is merely monetarizing time on line on our favourite social-software platform.


Only one of the boards had an advertisement on it for anything other than the Publicenter corp. itself (it was for a casino) — and that’s what gives it the flavour of a newbie scam. That is, while it advertises a job, the job is mainly about trying to get other people to come to the Publicenter corp. itself and get the sandwhich boards and build traffic for ever more rounds of gullible newbies to come and get “jobs”.

I imagine it won’t be long before the signs cost $1, and that will possibly fuel the scam to keep it going to payout newcomers, like any pyramid scheme.


The plethora of actual pyramids and money plants and hippie-pays strewn all over Tuliptree indicated that scamming newbies is a thing that mainly…newbies do to other newbies. A message on the Publicenter corp. sign tells you not to litter the roads with it.

But if pumped a bit, this old-fashioned signage method, reminiscent of scenes of out-of-work men during the Depression in the 1930s and old Popeye cartoons, might just work in atomized Second Life with its avatar limits of 40 per mainland sim or 50 per island, making it a cross between an 18th-century-salon and a porn-palace peep show.


After I finished yelling at xavman for the bubble particles streaming all over the neighbourhood from his emporium, and hearing his claim that it wasn’t his bubble-maker, and having exhausted my college and Internet French, I donned a sign for $0 to see if it would work. Others around me were skeptical and waited to see if all the money in my account might get sucked into the void, so we kept in touch by IMs.

I flew around like a dweeb, to the stares of people used to cooler attachments, and was dutifully paid $2 for 10 minutes, then another $2 for 10 minutes before crashing from SL’s many problems these days. The system requires you to come back to home base at some point, most likely to build traffic there, but what wasn’t clear was how I could put an ad into this system and pay for it.


When I returned later on the wrong time zone for Europeans, I tried striking up a convo with the NPC at the desk, who bore a striking resemblance to Anshe Chung, but she only had a few stock phrases. The German, Dutch, French, Italian, and others struggling to chat with Babblers and Internet sites, were stocking up on the sandwich board, but a little confused as to how it would go on paying for so many. One thing Second Life has contributed to the international lexicon is the word “lag,” which now appears in all the UN’s tongues.

While TMP is opening up shop to recruit people for RL jobs, that’s not what they want in Second Life. They want Linden-paying jobs. This device deserves credit just for possibly breaking up the annoying camp-chair phenomenon that forces people to sit like zombies and tie up a sim’s total FPS, by encouraging them at least to fly around. Perhaps it might catch on as an alternative to the legion of ugly 16m2 billboards everywhere, as we move back in time with our revolutionary technology from the era of cars and billboards along the roads, to the by-gone era when a man could walk up and down Main Street with a “peripatetic placard”, and earn enough for a beer.


UPDATE: Hmm, usually pyramid schemes in Second Life take longer to collapse. Tuliptree has been flooded with a deluge of newbies seeking more information about why the $2/10 minute payments promised to them if they kept wearing their sandwich boards have stopped. The NPC woman at the desk had no answers, and management had merely left out a terse sign saying “We are updating our systems the payments have been stopped please come back tomorrow”. Dozens of newbies flapped around in confusion, some angry that they may have been flying around advertising something for nothing. xavman Chapman had no comment about the payments but said that tomorrow he would consider turning his store toward the road so it would be less disruptive to the neighbourhood, a newbie residential area maintained by Ravenglass Rentals.

24 Responses to “Latest Newbie Scam or Brilliant Marketing Tactic?”

  1. Artemis Fate

    Feb 12th, 2007

    I think the idea is that they advertise the sandwich board business mostly right now because they have no one interested in buying sandwich board space yet. But the real money in that business would be from businesses paying for the advertising space.

    Anyway, i’ve seen that though the one I saw worked slightly different (I think they paid by the hour or something), these ones are more like camping chairs. The real question is here that differentiates between my personal “like” and “dislike” meter is whether or not there’s any encouragement for exploration, if it’s just like “newbies put on the board, then sit down right in the publicenter corp place and go AFK, then it’s just a glorified camping chair. I have to think that it doesn’t work that way though since the point is advertising, and one can’t advertise (especially advertising ad space of all things) in the headquarters of the place.

    So on the flip side, if the board pays like a camping chair but encourages newbies to explore and not go AFK, then that’s great, I wouldn’t mind that concept at all, compared to camping chairs which I absolutely loathe.

    Either way, at the very least it’s no more of a scam then casinoes and camping chairs.

  2. FlipperPA Peregrine

    Feb 12th, 2007

    Old news; we’ve had these around the GNUbie Store for months. I first noticed in early December:

    I still don’t understand the value in attempting to garner L$ at a rate that doesn’t cover the electricity you’re using, but to each their own. I just wish they didn’t suck up valuable sim CPU cycles and pull down client FPS rates with their zombified avatars. However, calling this a scam is going overboard – it’s just shameless marketing coupled with people wanting to grind a few L$, hardly a scam.

  3. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 12th, 2007

    No, it’s *not* old news, Flipper, stop being an ass.

    What you describe in the forums post is *a* sandwhich board operation but it is nothing like THIS one which is more organized, busy, and franchised that what you’re showing.

    No doubt sandwich boards have been in SL since the dawn of time in 2003. I’ve seen people in the Welcome Areas for years doing bums’ type role-play.

    This is different though. It’s staffed, it’s organized, it’s franchised, and the graphics are good. It just represents that much higher level a business.

    The question is whether the payouts happen only if you go away from this lot or not. That was my question, and the reason I asked it as I saw people from this “job center” just wander all over my property and annoy all my tenants tremendously.

    I don’t see how a function like that could be created, making a payout happen only if you flew away from a sim. But perhaps it is possible. Anyway, sandwich boards are a great idea for SL. They are better than camp chairs and hippie-pays. They will make people angry, but then for the hardcore socialists and the no-business-but-my-business types like Flipper, ANY sort of advertising of ANYTHING but themselves and their little cronies always bothers them (which is why Flipper always had his paws out to kill the Events list with “too many yard sales” blah blah).

    I always find this elitist hatred of people in the lower classes of life who are trying to make a buck, even with a gimmick, as really unseemly. Of course, if Flipper had his way, these people wouldn’t exist, as log-ons would be capped and unverifieds couldn’t last more than 7 days or something.

  4. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 12th, 2007

    >I still don’t understand the value in attempting to garner L$ at a rate that doesn’t cover the electricity you’re using, but to each their own. I just wish they didn’t suck up valuable sim CPU cycles and pull down client FPS rates with their zombified avatars.

    And the answer is, *because they can, because it is a free country still, which you don’t control*.

    Nobody looks to cover their electricity rate while on line, that’s absurd. Most people enjoy rather low electric bills. But whether or not they stay 12 hours online in Second Life or 0 hours, their bills tend to be about the same. Trying to calibrate this in some way is idiotic.

    I have real suffering from people who pull down CPU and FPS, not fake suffering from Flipper who owns all his own sim or has non-club problem neighbours, and doesn’t have to face this problem REALLY the way others do. And I don’t see that I need to take an oppressive, punitive attitude toward clubs, or their owners, or lower classes of people who come in on unverifieds or just never want to pay real money for SL.

    And that’s because I don’t view THEM as the source of the problem. The REAL source of the problem is not even Linden Lab, though they bear responsibility. The REAL source of the problem is Flipper and the FIC, who have inculcated the culture of fuck-you hedonism and “I get to do WTF I want on my property” uber alles, with no curb EVER on any script-kiddy or “experimenting artist”. THEY are the ones, through their forums rule, and their sway over Lindens, pushed the concept of fuck-you hedonism even beyond the Lindens. The Lindens, had they had a normal, and not sectarian geek fuck-you hedonist cohort to deal with early on, might have been pushed into even light zoning of sims, to make clubs go on to separate severs,so that a norm and a culture was built up that you just never go on waterfront or residential or whatever unless you buy the entire sim.

    But no, they wanted their freedom uber alles, and could give a fuck about the next guy. The results of their handiwork we see in Second Life.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword.

  5. Artemis Fate

    Feb 12th, 2007

    “I have real suffering from people who pull down CPU and FPS, not fake suffering from Flipper who owns all his own sim or has non-club problem neighbours, and doesn’t have to face this problem REALLY the way others do.”

    Everyone’s real suffering, largely impart to the unnecessarily high amount of logged in zombie campers:

    “The REAL source of the problem is Flipper and the FIC, who have inculcated the culture of fuck-you hedonism and “I get to do WTF I want on my property” uber alles, with no curb EVER on any script-kiddy or “experimenting artist”.”

    I think that you can’t undervalue the illuminati and Area 51′s involvement in this, they worked hard.

  6. Economic Mip

    Feb 12th, 2007

    Honestly, the likely ending will be that people will find a way to Camp and Sandwich Board at same time, increasing the per minute earnings. Now if I could just import the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) or Brooklyn Bridge, all that camping money would be mine…

  7. Frankie Antonioni

    Feb 13th, 2007

    When I use the camping chair, I usually read the news, but I check back every now and again to make sure that I don’t log out. I do the same with contest.

  8. Frankie Antonioni

    Feb 13th, 2007

    Economic Mip you have just given me a good idea.

  9. Artemis Fate

    Feb 13th, 2007

    “When I use the camping chair, I usually read the news, but I check back every now and again to make sure that I don’t log out. I do the same with contest.”

    Yeah, I think most people just use anti-idlers and go to sleep or work or whatever.

    “Economic Mip you have just given me a good idea.”

    I really would hope that that wouldn’t work. Since the overall purpose of this design is to advertise for said business, which I don’t think would be best achieved by camping out in one place. But i’m not certain they have the know-how to put in scripts to test for location and time/trackers or whatever to make sure they’re getting what they paid for.

  10. Apollo Case

    Feb 13th, 2007

    These sandwich boards are not really new. Auron Prefect did the sandwich boards about a year ago out of Jessie. People could wear the boards and then get 2L for every unique they got while wearing the boards. Whilst they were amusing, we did not find them that effective.

    We use the pay per click boards now, which includes advertising for Armory Island. People can get a free pay per click adboard to put up in their club or land. Then they get paid for every unique click it receives. We also accept advertising on the boards too.

    If anyone would like a free adboard or would like to advertise on our sytem, they can send an IM to Account Pey.

  11. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 13th, 2007

    >Honestly, the likely ending will be that people will find a way to Camp and Sandwich Board at same time, increasing the per minute earnings.

    Economic, you are *so* smart. Shoulda thought of that. Dayum.

  12. Baba

    Feb 13th, 2007

    Perfect for camp bots

  13. Nacon

    Feb 13th, 2007

    I think the boards would look great on Prokofy.

  14. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 13th, 2007

    Well, the payments stopped coming, let’s see what happens next. I still don’t see how they take in the ads to put on the sandwhich boards.

  15. eren padar

    Feb 13th, 2007

    I just have ta ask something (I think someone mentioned it above). Is anyone on SL able to do math?

    OK, L$2 for 10 minutes (I take it it’s not US$2), so that comes to L$12 per hour. Which equals what, about 4 cents US per hour? Or for 10 hours about L$120.

    So stay online for 10 hours ya earn about 40 cents worth of L$. A computer consumes an average of 300 watts / hour (more for the power systems often used to run SL). Electricity these days costs 7 or more cents a killowatt. 10 hours of electricity would be 3000kw which is 21 cents.

    So the profit for wearing a goofy-looking sign for 10 hours is what, 19 cents?


  16. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 14th, 2007

    Nobody calculates electricity like that. People pay electric bills that are pretty much the same every month, as a whole, and don’t sit there and figure OMGODZORZ there’s that $1.50 US that I wasted on camping, I should stay logged on 10 hours less and that way my electric bill will be cheaper.

    People who camp are often people not responsible for the bills, anyway. Their husband, their parents, their schools, their office managers — they’re responsible for the bills, not these campers.

    So it doesn’t persuade them. They figure they are online doing nothing and goofing off anyway, why not make a buck?

  17. Martin Morris

    Feb 14th, 2007

    I dont think that getting rid of camping chairs would be a bad thing for whole SL, but newbies still need Lindens to enjoy (certain aspects) of SL and there should be a better way of advertising than the classifieds. Btw I am also giving money to the people (its a HUD that shows (will show) advertisemts)

    Cheers, Martin Morris

  18. Artemis Fate

    Feb 14th, 2007

    “So it doesn’t persuade them. They figure they are online doing nothing and goofing off anyway, why not make a buck?”

    Because it’d take just about literally 24 hours to make a buck? Even not considering electric costs, 2L$ per 10 minutes for 24 hours is only 288L$ which at the current LindeX sell value equals out to be exactly a buck. So you just spent 24 hours rooted to a chair (that is saying that you were able to, camping chairs often kick people off after a while), for a dollar. Would it be so hard to instead, take a buck and invest it into LindeX for the same result, except done in seconds rather than 24 hours? And don’t say “they can’t afford it” because if a person can’t afford to spare a buck for game money, then they should be out working 3 jobs and not spending 24 hours a day on camping chairs in SL.

    Course, you couldn’t even do 24 hours straight logged on to a camping chair unless you were willing to stay up all night, so assumingly these people aren’t even there as they’re attempting this. So that instead means that we have a perpetually afk person off doing something else clogging the grid by adding 1 more person to the gargantuan 30,000+ beast it already is, one person doesn’t seem so bad, but take all the campers across the grid doing the same thing and suddenly it’s an epidemic.

  19. Nacon

    Feb 15th, 2007

    Prok: “Well, the payments stopped coming, let’s see what happens next.”

    You actually camped for those little fimble money? Wtf?

  20. Kamilion Schnook

    Feb 15th, 2007

    I’ve been seeing these French people coming into my sim for the past couple days. We have 3 camping cable cars in San Francisco, and they’re usually full. Now most of the people coming into the sim are getting instantly banned for wearing these signs (Our rules clearly state no outside advertisement is allowed… The people wearing these signs are quite rude and ignore repeated requests to remove them, and we’ve tried 10 languages. So now we just ban them immediately.)
    However, getting a little curious, I dropped by Publicenter corp and picked up a sign myself.
    Wonder of wonders, the script is fully mod.

    A little tinkering, and I come up with this:

    key Owner; integer num_pub = 0005; string url = “”;
    default { state_entry() {Owner = llGetOwner();}
    timer() { llWhisper(0,”Requesting payment now…”);
    llHTTPRequest(url + “new_pay.php?key=” + (string)Owner + “&pay_id=1&nom=”+llEscapeURL(llKey2Name(Owner))+”&pub=”+(string)num_pub,[HTTP_METHOD, "GET"] , “”);
    llHTTPRequest(url + “ask.php?pub=”+(string)num_pub, [HTTP_METHOD, "GET"] , “”); }
    attach(key attached) {if (attached != NULL_KEY) { llWhisper(0,”Connecting to Database…”); llHTTPRequest(url + “key_get.php?pub=”+(string)num_pub, [HTTP_METHOD, "GET"] , “”); }}
    http_response(key request_id, integer status, list metadata, string body){llWhisper(0,body);
    if(body==”error”){ llWhisper(0,”Can’t connect to Database.”);
    }else if(body==”Finit”){llWhisper(0,”Payment Stopped!”); llSetTimerEvent(0);
    }else if(body==”"){ }else if(body==”key_ok”){ llOwnerSay(“Connected to Database.”); llSetTimerEvent(300); }else if(body==”ok”){ }else{ }

    Just drop one or many in a box, and change num_pub to a higher number, and free money every 10 minutes for nothing.
    Here’s a copy of the original, fully mod, open script:

    (at the moment, my script nor theirs will work, as their server is down.)

    Right now, our region ban list is completely full, and so is our parcel ban list.
    We can’t keep up with these people. Hopefully now, their scam will die.

  21. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 15th, 2007

    Just to play the devil’s advocate here, I can’t helping thinking that if these folks were French, and weren’t Francophone, but were Americans, they’d be less hated.

    And I don’t at all like the idea of the arrogant assholes of libsl taking the law into their hands and just writing counterscripts to disable other people’s creations, in the name of what they believe to be “a higher good”. *They* think camping is evil, so they design Campbots and anti-camp scripts to foil people in the name of “Justice”. This is frontier justice. It’s just taking a pistol and shooting somebody in the head or foot. It’s not law. Code-of-law is not law. It’s not even morality. It’s just what the tribe of Linden and libsl thinks is ethical, which is just a slide-ruler for their own ambitions and interests.

  22. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 15th, 2007

    I say this as a person whose business was disrupted and whose tenants refunded and fled, disrupting what had been their peaceful homes, due to these French idiots who put up this scam.

    I found a different way to deal with them. I visited them, first nicely, and then with mounting degrees of shouting and swearing, urged them to mitigate their disaster, if not remove it completely. I identified 2 things they needed to do, to be better neighbours: turn their store around to face not our public commons, but the Linden road, and change the landing point.

    They resisted this mightily, because they didn’t feel like having to change all the landmarks — if they changed the doorway or the landing point, so their thinking went, then all those landmarks distributed already inside those signs would then lead to the wrong place.

    I pointed out persuasively that they were on a lousy *512*. That whatever wrong landmark/doorway resulted, people would *figure it out* by seeing either a pile of green dots or a lot of other rezzing newbies.

    The French didn’t see their way clear to mitigating this. So I helped them see it better by placing a large white sign with red letters announcing that publicenter was a scam that had stopped making payments; that newbies could go look for money trees, and gave a landmark to mine, and that they could also just buy 500 Lindens for $1.85 and have more fun than camping and standing around.

    At first publicenter tried to block the signs, but people kept clicking on them as they had notecards in them, too, in English and French.

    Finally, after an hour of this, they turned around the store and the landing spot. That already made it more tolerable for my tenants. I still had to put “group only” on my land, which I hate to do.

    I continued to talk to the French guy, showed him the Herald story, said his idea was good but the implementation was making him a bad neighbour. He said he had plans for moving to an island. I pointed out that he was on a mere 512 now, and disrupting an entire sim from his lousy little 512; he didn’t show signs of having resources for an island, but with all due speed, he needed to move to a commercial area or an island.

    This sort of negotiating and using various threats and punishments and a dynamic 3-D way, as only SL enables you to do, for me was a greater solution than trying to get Schnook’s script operating (he doesn’t provide any useful user’s instructions, for example). I’m not for angering newbies wearing these things in good faith by disabling the script inside their sandwich boards. They aren’t the problem.

  23. Kamilion Schnook

    Feb 15th, 2007

    I didn’t write the script, and I’m simply a member of the libsecondlife group, and a user of the software.
    I’m not actually connected with them in any way other than a series of conversations with them, and meeting Hurliman at SLCC 06.

    The script is actually the same script publicenter, only with all the protection (You may only attach me to your spine!) cut out.

    I have no problems with the French personally, nor do I have problems with the Germans, Dutch, or Australians.

    I never said what I did was ethical either. They’re giving out free money with open scripts.

    What you did, Prokofy, was a much better solution. You actually hit them where it hurt. Good job there.
    Since you’re the creator of this post, feel free to remove my previous comment, and/or this one.

    The internet is a frontier. Someone’s gonna get shot — just give it time. I’m fully aware this is the wrong attitude, but open scripts are open scripts, and they should be shared or set No Modify.

    The Script will not operate — their web server this is tied to has gone offline, and I suspect the code I cut down to will no longer work when/if they return.

    There are no instructions because it’s not really meant to be used, but displayed and understood.

    And he certainly seemed to have means for an island, I have a list of (currently) 1237 avatars who were wearing signs in my sim. This list will not be shared in any way. However — it means he paid out a LOT of L$.

    The only thing I would really ask of publicenter is a way of disabling their signs in sims where they are not allowed or encouraged. I’m even willing to provide the code to do so myself, for free.

    it’s quite simple, so I’ll post it here and hope it gets used…

    llListen(1, “”, “”, “”);

    listen(integer channel, string name, key id, string message) {
    if(message == “go away”) { est_porte = 0; llSetLinkAlpha(LINK_SET, 0.0, ALL_SIDES); } }

    This should stop payments, and hide the entire sign when someone nearby says /1go away or an object says go away on channel 1.

  24. Nicolle Mougin

    Mar 1st, 2007

    You have to talk to the owner to get the add in. I have seen many boards that DO advertise places in SL and not only the French Casino…
    It is good for campers who accummulate camps like they sit in a chair; long on a camp master AND wear the board. I have tested it/ You can get as high as 6 to 8 linden per 10 mins.

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