Residents of 8 Sims Homeless – Is Land Scamming or Illness to Blame?

by Pixeleen Mistral on 11/03/07 at 12:33 am

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

What appears to be one of the largest virtual land business failures ever threw residents of at least 8 sims out of their homes today – as the Azure Islands land company did a repo-man job on sims owned by Azure Islands but managed by lilly Margretts. Sources claim that Ms. Margetts had not made tier payments to Azure Islands for two months, and since the Linden Lab game gods are not known to extend more than 7 days grace on land payments it may not have been a complete shock that the land was seized and resold.

lilly has gone missing

The residents I spoke with had no warning of the trouble awaiting them, and had been dutifully making payments to Ms. Margetts over the last two months. Imagine their surprise when they found their land had disappeared overnight. Then imagine Azure Islands discomfort when no tier payments were forthcoming for two months. Then ask yourself why a game company in the virtual land business which touts Second Life as a real economy never seems to get around to making these sorts of transactions more transparent.

But the displaced residents had more immediate concerns, and after being turfed out of their homes, a group of ex-tenants did some collaborative sleuthing – and identified Azure Islands as the land owners and contacted Azure Islands land honcho Adam Zauis directly.

Following what we imagine was a rather vigorous discussion, Mr. Zaius decided to take over for lilly Margretts, and rollback the sims to their former state. Unfortunately 4 of the 8 sims had been resold on the open market – but we were assured that Mr. Zauis will make it good by acquiring the sims and getting the Lindens staffers to rollback the state of the island to last thursday or friday – probably when they come to work monday.

a very quiet land management group

The question of why no tier payments had been made remains. Accordingt to a notecard obtained by the Herald, one of lilly’s business partners claims that lilly’s non-payment resulted from a serious illness which has put her in the hospital – although this claim is very difficult to verify. Another possibility is that this was some sort of land scam. We were unable to reach either of lilly’s land mangers at press time – hopefully they will surface soon.

As this story continues to develop I was left with the feeling that this could all be so much less messy – if there were public records of land transactions – and some sort of due process before tenants are thrown off their land. However as Adam Zaius told us, “Caveat emptor is never more true than in SL. Consumer rights have a long way to go here”.


The notecard that Mr. Ziaus provided to lilly’s ex-tenants is below:



This is a note because you were a member (or still are) of the Cascades residential community.
** Please send this to all your neighbours so everyone is assured of getting a copy. **

The Azure Islands will be taking over this estate due to the previous owner being delinquent on the island tier fees. We will be honouring any existing business relationships as set out below, we will also be making contact with every resident individually in the next week to explain what is happening, and why it has happened.

Any content which is missing right now will be restored as soon as we are able to do so.

We must apologise for the mess this has created, if there is anything we can do to help smooth the transition please contact me and I will deal with it personally – Adam Zaius (on behalf of the Azure Islands)

The ‘What is happening’ questions:
1. First, the most obvious question, where are Undercity / Ironforge / Miami Beach / Coconut Beach?

The short answer is, they are temporarily gone, but **will be back as soon as we can arrange a rollback**. These sims were transferred to someone else as they were more than a month overdue on tier.

The long answer,

The tier on the islands themselves them had not been paid since January, after being delinquent for over a month without us being able to contact the estate owner, they were reclaimed. We have maintained them at our own expense since febuary in hope that we would be contacted and get the overdue tier payments, this has not happened.

As these regions have been residentially subleased — We will be restoring those sims to their previous state and honouring the current parcels as they are now, but the catch is, we will be taking over management of these regions directly. You will no longer be paying tier to the Cascades group, rather the Azure Islands.

We realise many of you paid Lilly for the tier during this time, so we will not be billing you the back tier (rather, we will be eating the several thousand USD on unpaid tier in the residential regions as a loss), this however will mean that tier will resume from March with us. We will post more information on this subject as soon as we have restored the regions.

2. Second obvious question, when will they be rolled back to their previous state?

This will depend a little bit on the availibility of a concierge with grid access from Linden Lab. We are going to try our best to contact them over the weekend, however it may end up being monday that the regions are setup as before. After this is done, everything should be the way it was on Thursday before they were moved, other than the change in management.

3. Third obvious question, what about the other sims?

These are also overdue, and will be managed by us directly. This affects all the regions in the cascades estate as it was on Thursday evening.

4. Why wernt we told?

We did make contact with at least one of the estate managers for the cascades group a week ago to inform them that the regions would be reclaimed if we did not get the overdue tier paid. Unfortunately it looks like the knowledge that this was going to happen was not passed on to the residents of the cascade group.

The ‘What will happen’ questions:
1. Tier?

We will be carrying tier fees over as they are for now, however tier for March will need to be paid (we are ignoring the outstanding tier on febuary since we realise many of you have paid), if you have already paid for tier in March, please contact Tex Arnaz for a refund on that tier. Your tier amounts should remain the same. Please note, as above, we will be making individual contact to work this one through.

2. Location?

We will be moving the continent to be closer to our current continent, however we will not be connecting the regions at this time. This may or may not happen immedietely, however it will happen at the same time as the renaming below.

3. Names?

We will be keeping some of the names, and not others – this is because of trademark concerns over the names “Undercity”, “Ironforge”, “StormWind”, and other names also appearing in World of Warcraft(tm). If you are in one of these regions, we will be picking new names and letting you know what they are.

Again, we apologise for the inconvenience this has caused (it is something we would have preffered not to have to have happen ourselves), but if you need anything our support contacts are below, and feel free to IM me personally.

Adam Zaius

12 Responses to “Residents of 8 Sims Homeless – Is Land Scamming or Illness to Blame?”

  1. Cocoanut Koala

    Mar 11th, 2007

    I always said Adam Zaius and Nexus Nash were good stand-up guys. This is why I have lived on Azure Islands since its inception and still continue to live happily there, and have always recommended it to others.

    These are two guys who will always do right by ya, and then some!

    (Too bad they aren’t changing the Coconut Beach name – I had that first! My land is named Coco Beach! jk, guys)


  2. Prokofy Neva

    Mar 11th, 2007

    Well, I realize Adam Zaius, one of the pillars of the FIC, has near canonized status in Second Life, but I do have to wonder about the backstory here on this caper. To be sure, it looks like he’s picking up somebody else’s tab, but…there’s some questions worth asking here.

    How could Adam sit idly by, while lilly didn’t pay tier to him (or some other middleman) for two months? Has his empire gotten so big he doesn’t notice stuff like this?!

    If Adam was able to “repo” these islands, that means that he or his group remained the titular owner, which is how the island system works, and he merely leased it out to lilly to run her own rentals business (which means of course her tenants likely had to pay a bit higher rent).

    And that means she had to pay tier to him so that he could pay LL — so how could he allow 2 months to go by on a situation like that without taking it over sooner and information all the tenants in a timely manner, so that they didn’t keep paying lilly when she wasn’t covering the bills? I find his explanation card very wordy and confusing.I also find this busy fussiness about generic-style WoW names like “Ironforge” to be ridiculous. How many “Ironforges” are there in RL and games all over the place, surely WoW can’t copyright a thing like that.

    When you miss a payment to Linden Lab, they keep attempting to bill you for 7 days, then your account name disappears from the people list and you cannot log it on. You land may remain in place I believe 30 days (or is it longer? I’ve seen it go longer on some properties in world) but then they grab it. You can’t sell Linden dollars off that account, and you have to pay it with PayPal or a credit card out of other funds. I think that’s where some of these managers run into trouble, because they have Lindens, but not real dollars, so they depend on being able to cash out their Lindens, but then their account closes or something.

    I also don’t understand the need to roll back sims. Why? Transfer sims, yes, but why roll back in time?

  3. Ben Azure

    Mar 11th, 2007

    Nothing can ever be simple for some people. I’d love to talk about whats going on, but of course I am bound by my confidentiality clauses. However I can say that we are doing what we can here, and yes, it is most likely that despite our best efforts not everyone will be happy. I’m just going to leave it at that lest I say something that could result in an epic forensic analysis of my words for hidden meanings.

  4. Nacon

    Mar 11th, 2007

    Or they had hopes up and thought they could do it… really could do it and fly with success of a nut-stack.

    The way I see it from this result, it was just an amature estate business that couldn’t pay on time. (whoop de doo)

    In fact, 2 months? Wtf were they waiting for?

  5. Adam Zaius

    Mar 11th, 2007

    The main reason for waiting so long on the islands is we spent a long time trying to get in contact with Lilly Margetts without much success.

    Lilly has been a decent customer which is why she got more than the normal two weeks, It also costs a lot to transfer an island back to us (lots of little fees that add up to a gigantic bill), and frankly, it’s not a fun job to deal with.

    As for trademarks, they are a concern – unlike copyrights they are a bit more restrictive on what people can do with them, it’s certainly possible to trademark every day words (see Apple for a good example), but the problem with trademarks is, unlike copyrights, there’s no “safe harbour” provisions for hosts – and damages are usually a good deal more severe.

    Since the names are fairly obvious at having come from WoW, there’s no legal footing should blizzard come a-knocking. That’s basically why I’d prefer to rename them than have to worry about it. (even if it does bring us back to the “lots of little fees” point when it comes to doing the actual renaming)

  6. whateva

    Mar 11th, 2007

    I’ve got to agree with profoky, interesting points made in prof’s post, something definately is not right with their claims. If this is indeed a scam, its’ people like this that are going to ruin those who are legit and honest landlords in SL. The biggest shame is on LL for never getting involved in these type of disputes.

  7. Spankubux

    Mar 11th, 2007

    “Then ask yourself why a game company in the virtual land business which touts Second Life as a real economy never seems to get around to making these sorts of transactions more transparent.”

    Is this piece marked as an editorial?

  8. Adam Zaius

    Mar 12th, 2007

    We’ve got the sims back online, they arnt quite on the world map properly just yet, but if you teleport to them directly, you should be able to get into them. We expect they will be as they were in all respects probably in a few hours as the world map updates again. We are going to be trying to make contact with everyone individually this week and explain what’s happened precisely.

  9. Urizenus

    Mar 12th, 2007

    Thanks for the update, Adam.

  10. Maria LaVeaux

    Mar 13th, 2007

    It seems to me if it Were some form of Land Scam, The property owners stood to lose Far more by doing it than they would gain. Thier Rep would go right down the white Porceline swirly thing, and thier profits with it. A Land Management concern of this size couldn’t afford the Bad Press, and from what i’ve seen so far, they have done a Great Deal to make thier tenants whole again. It just doesn’t have the Markings of a scam.


  11. Sioban McMahon

    Mar 16th, 2007

    Tex Arnez was active on line as late as March 9th, when he gladly instructed me on how to pay the tier fees for my new Red Sands property to Cascades Management. Talk about bad timing on purchase dates. Cascades had trouble paying their bills, but not collecting money. Something’s fishy there for sure.

    Adam Zaius has been stand up through this and has done a good job communicating with residents of the affected islands.

  12. Seola Sassoon

    Mar 18th, 2007

    Just to note: Ironforge was in Everquest before WoW!

    So take that WoW! :P

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