Introduction This is an updated report on the suspicious activities of the owner and administration of the widely-used TF2 Pricing Spreadsheet at TF2Spreadsheet.blogspot.com (his site may appear with a country code in your region, such as Tf2Spreadsheet.blogspot.ca, Tf2Spreadsheet.blogspot.au, TF2Spreadsheet.blogspot.co.uk, etc) The first version of this report on the TF2 Spreadsheet's owner was locked by a SteamRep admin because people were using it as a forum to criticize the Spreadsheet, without offering new evidence. These scam report threads are not intended for that. So if you want to discuss the issue, please make a new thread in SteamRep's general discussion forum. However, if you do have new evidence to offer, (including any data which disproves the evidence which I've already presented), then please post it here. Anyway, I have further information to add, and the Spreadsheet Admin has since admitted to many of the offenses that he was still denying when I made the first report here. So, I'll take this opportunity to update that first report with this new information, and then I'll continue on to evidence which was not included in the first report or its comments. Here's a link to the original report, the comments contain information which is not included in this updated report. http://forums.steamrep.com/threads/...198037908684-stf2-tf2-spreadsheet-admin.9564/ Victims: Too numerous to list. Potentially this affects everybody who trades Scammer: steamID: STF2 steamID32: STEAM_0:0:38821478 steamID64: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561198037908684 customURL: http://steamcommunity.com/id/madking5150 steamrepURL: http://steamrep.com/profiles/76561198037908684 (He has just changed the name of this account to "TF2 Spreadsheet Admin", for the first time.) steamID: smokedgouda001 steamID32: STEAM_0:0:13150697 steamID64: http://steamcommunity.com/profiles/76561197986567122 customURL: steamrepURL: http://steamrep.com/profiles/76561197986567122 Description: Summary Sharking and scamming Acting as a trader, the TF2 Spreadsheet Admin used his numerous anonymous forum accounts for the following purposes: • He lied to his fellow TF2 players about the value of items that he was selling or buying (causing them to lose money). • He inflated prices of items that he was trading (enabling him to profit at the expense of other Steam users). • To gain exposure for his own trades on the Steam Trading Forums, again at the expense of other traders. • He lied to inexperienced users about the value of items he was trading with them (also known as sharking) This activity continued undiscovered for more than one year, and involved hundreds of forums posts and dozens of trades. Usually, he would stage a fake 'discussion' between his accounts,. One of them would bid up the price of items being traded by the other, without reaching a deal. Then he would wait for genuine buyers to buy them at the higher price. He refused to admit that he was the owner of these accounts until Drunken_F00l from Valve banned the accounts, confirmed that they were all operated by a single individual, and confirmed that they had been used to deceive other Steam users. http://www.reddit.com/r/tf2trade/comments/yk9ji/psa_i_believe_the_tf2_pricing_spreadsheet_at/c5we6p6 Despite the overwhelming evidence proving that he repeatedly used his secret accounts to scam other Steam users and try to raise the prices of items that he was selling, he still denies this. He continues to claim, to readers of his blog, on SteamRep, and on other forums, that he used them only to 'bump' his trading threads. http://forums.steamrep.com/threads/...4-stf2-tf2-spreadsheet-admin.9564/#post-31511 . Unfair competition and anonymous attacks on competitors To prevent competition for his spreadsheet business, he also used the same four shill accounts to attack competing spreadsheets and pricing sites, and to promote his own spreadsheet. He also did this with accounts on many other forums. He deceived his fellow Steam users by pretending to be one of them and not revealing his obvious conflict of interest. Once again, his standard trick was to stage a fake conversation involving several of the accounts he controlled, to smear his competitors, to drown out dissenting opinions, or to praise his own website. After trying to conceal the truth for more than a year, has finally admitted using the accounts in this way. He has also used his blog and his public statements to smear the reputation of Valve staff-member Drunken_F00l, and me, by questioning our motives and insinuating that we are secret representatives of his competitors. This is untrue, but it is understandable that he would suspect this kind of behavior, because it is exactly the same tactic he himself has used repeatedly for over a year, as he has finally been forced to admit. . Market manipulation The TF2 Spreadsheet admin has often been accused of altering market prices for his own benefit and he has denied these claims. The claims were impossible to check, for several reasons: Firstly, because he kept his identity secret. He did not make a historical record of his prices available for public examination, (even though this would be trivially easy, as the screenshots on this page show). He even used his secret alt accounts to attack people who questioned the Spreadsheet's prices, therefore frustrating and diverting their efforts to discuss suspicious price changes. The accounts pretended to be ordinary Steam users with no connection to the Spreadsheet. However, by discovering his identity, I was able to observe a little of his trading activity. The TF2 Spreadsheet admin bought a Strange Botkiller Medi Gun for 8 keys at a time when they were trading for less than 10 keys, and a few minutes later edited his Spreadsheet to give this item a price of 10-14 Keys*. This unjustified new Spreadsheet price caused the market price to rise. He then sold the Medi Gun for a quick profit, and within minutes adjusted the Spreadsheet price down. Below you can see a precise accurate of this series of events, which shows it is vanishingly unlikely that there is any innocent explanation for them. *10-14 keys, not 10-16 keys as I said in the original report. . Details The two Steam accounts listed above, Smokedgouda001 and STF2, are controlled by the administrator of the TF2 Spreadsheet at TF2spreadsheet.blogspot.com. He initially denied this and claimed that SmokedGouda001 was the account of a friend. When confronted with further evidence, he eventually admitted the truth. The Spreadsheet admin also controls at least four Steam Forum accounts: Madking (STF2) - http://forums.steamgames.com/forums/member.php?u=1069704 SmokedGouda - http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/member.php?u=933713 PrellisV_2.0 - http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/member.php?u=979535 Mothergoose - http://forums.steamgames.com/forums/member.php?u=1116912 If you want to see those Steam Forum pages and the others in this report, then you MUST be logged into a Steam Forum account, or you will probably just get an error message. You can read a more detailed description of the initial allegations against him at Reddit. http://www.reddit.com/r/tf2trade/comments/yk9ji/psa_i_believe_the_tf2_pricing_spreadsheet_at/ Please be aware that I have not updated that original Reddit post, because editing could lead to doubts about its reliability. So all new information and updates are in the comments on Reddit and here on SteamRep. The Reddit comments include responses from the TF2 Spreadsheet admin, using one his Reddit accounts, PiousPorpoise. He has since admitted that several of his statements there were lies. There's no way I can link to every single example of the Spreadsheet Admin's unpleasant activities, because there are just too many of them, and this report is already very long. If you want to see more, please check out the links in the original posts on Reddit and Steamrep, and in the history of the forum postings he made with his many alt accounts (the profiles are linked above). There are also many accounts that he used on other sites, if anyone wants details of these, please post here to let me know. Screenshots: http://imgur.com/a/1cb2a#0 These are screenshots of the evidence from that original Reddit post. Many thanks to r_dageek on Reddit for gathering these! Other screenshots are linked throughout this report. One additional point: One Steamrep admin has been on SmokedGouda's friend list for a long time. I'm certainly not attempting to imply any wrongdoing or involvement in this case, just that it's probably best that anybody on the accused scammer's friendlist is not involved in the investigation. New and updated evidence: This is evidence which was not included at the Reddit link above, or in the previous report to SteamRep. Sharking/Scamming The Spreadsheet Admin, using his 'SmokedGouda' account, attempted to convince traders on SourceOP.com to pay him $1 each for crates. He justified this by claiming that Series 1 crates had 2x the normal chance of producing an unusual hat when opened. He tried to auction 50 at $1 each. Several experienced traders politely explained to him that he was mistaken: Series 1 crates have no more chance of yielding an unusual than any other crate. His reaction was to argue with them, and then insult them. http://sourceop.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=22273 Eight months later, (by which time he is describing himself as a highly experienced trader and is running his spreadsheet), the Steam trading forum happens to record him trying the same tactic again, but with a malicious twist. He auctions his Series 1 crates to his fellow TF2 players, using his SmokedGouda account, and he again claims these crates have more chance of producing an unusual. However, this time he cleverly uses one of his many alt accounts, PrellisV_2.0, to make the false claim on his behalf. This protects his main trading account from blame or accusations of sharking. His main account SmokedGouda, then simply says: “some believe they have a greater chance of unusuals”. I want to emphasize how totally incriminating that last statement is. If he truly believed there was a greater chance of an unusual from Crate 1, then he would simply have confirmed it with his main account. He clearly does not believe it – that is the only explanation for his action. He is deliberately deceiving the other users about the value of the items in order to increase his own profit. http://i.imgur.com/1e5AR.png http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2145595 By the way, he is a capable writer, but notice how he disguises his alt accounts' writing style with tricks like poor punctuation and deliberate misspelling. Additional cases of trading price manipulation Here are a few more examples of the TF2 Spreadsheet owner posting fake bids and c/o prices to inflate the value of his own trades, potentially causing others to pay higher prices for those items. In these examples, SmokedGouda is the account he uses to sell, while he uses PrellisV_2.0 to post numerous fake offers. I don't think it's necessary for me to show more, but there are other examples of this behavior if you wish to look through the history of his Steam trading forum accounts, and the previous posts in this case. http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2071676 http://i.imgur.com/bGxd7.png http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2067329&page=3 http://i.imgur.com/5g4TB.png Fake bids to drive up the price of a cash sale: http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1887296 http://i.imgur.com/lta6f.png Remember, all four of the alt accounts you see talking to each other in the forum posts above, are controlled by the same person, the TF2 Spreadsheet Admin. Those accounts are SmokedGouda, MadKing, PrellisV_2.0, and MotherGoose Manipulation of spreadsheet price for personal profit This is the same trade as described in the original report, but with an accurate timeline showing precisely when each step took place. Please notice how quickly he updates the spreadsheet price each time he buys or sells the item he wants – in a matter of minutes each time. He is online for hours and has all that time to research and update his Spreadsheet, but he just happens to keep doing it at precisely the time that is profitable for him, but not for the people he is trading with. Are we really supposed to believe that he is unaware of the new spreadsheet price when he trades? Or that he will suddenly 'discover' that new price range and update the spreadsheet in just a few minutes? Timeline The time zone is US Eastern Time, UTC-4 hours. (I've used Eastern because it's the timezone used by the spreadsheet). August 16 On or before August 16 at 4.55pm, the new Botkiller items have been added to the Spreadsheet, without prices August 18 • August 18 at 1:21pm - The Spreadsheet is updated, but the Botkiller items still have no prices http://i.imgur.com/XEKnl.png August 19 The Spreadsheet admin comes online to trade using one of his Steam accounts, STF2. He uses another account, SmokedGouda, for trading openly. I had noticed before that he seemed to be using STF2 for trading, but these trades were almost impossible for me to observe, because he would buy items on TF2Outpost by adding other traders directly without posting any comments, and then remove them from his friends list. This is very strange, because his other account, SmokedGouda, was trading openly on TF2Outpost. SmokedGouda would post trade offers, post comments on other trades, and keep his trading partners on his friends list. Why would two accounts controlled by the same person trade so differently? One very secretive, and one quite open... Remember that at this time, nobody knew that SmokedGouda and STF2 were controlled by the same person or that they were connected to the Spreadsheet – and the Spreadsheet Admin deliberately created the impression that they were unconnected. For example, SteamRep's history over many months never catches these two accounts on each others friends lists, even though items were traded between them regularly. He claims that this allowed him to anonymously gather information for the Spreadsheet, but it also allowed him to secretly buy with one account and sell with the other, as this record has finally shown. • 9am-3pm - Trade records and screenshots (00:18am/20) of TF2Outpost suggest that the main trading price range for the Strange Botkiller Medi Gun had fallen to below 10 keys during this period when the TF2 Spreadsheet Admin was active and presumably researching prices. • 2.32pm - The spreadsheet admin buys a Strange Botkiller Medi Gun from Quintosh (Quintosj) for 8 keys, using his STF2 account. http://puu.sh/XsSj (the timezone in the screenshot is Central European Time) • 2.43pm - As soon as he has bought one for 8 keys from Quintosh, he immediately changes the Strange Botkiller Medi Gun price to 10-14 keys on his spreadsheet. He makes the spreadsheet update only 12 minutes after buying the item for 8 keys. (The seller, Quintosh, would therefore have had no opportunity to see the Spreadsheet and adjust his selling price). http://i.imgur.com/5KAaK.png http://i.imgur.com/ozgzF.jpg • 3.00 pm+ - After the Spreadsheet is updated, the effect gradually becomes noticeable on TF2Outpost. Almost all trade offers that are newly posted, or newly edited, have prices inside the 10-14 range suggested by the Spreadsheet, or higher. In proportion to the number of trades, there are far fewer prices below 10 keys. • 8.00pm-00.20am - During this period, TF2Outpost still had some active trade offers for the Strange Botkiller Medigun which had not been bumped for about 9 hours or more. This means the prices in these trades had been set before the Spreadsheet was updated at 2.43pm. During this period, I recorded details of most of those trades and offers. Fortunately they can give us a good idea of prices before the Spreadsheet intervened in the market. These suggest a reasonable price range was below 10 keys. August 20 At some time on this day (possibly before 1pm), the Spreadsheet Admin posts a trade on TF2Outpost, asking for 10 Keys for his new Botkiller Medi Gun. Before this, he has moved it out of the STF2 account to his alt account, SmokedGouda001. The trade remains open for at least 3 hours, and is closed at around 5pm. Meanwhile, he keeps the price on the Spreadsheet at 10-14 Keys. SmokedGouda's Inventory at 1pm: http://i.imgur.com/HELQn.jpg The buying and selling are separated by using two different accounts. This hides the link between them if you don't know the two accounts are controlled by the same person. This seems to be deliberate – when he was first challenged about this trade, he lied and said that he bought the item and then 'gave it to a friend', creating the impression that he made no profit. http://i.imgur.com/4RkTx.png 'to a friend' http://i.imgur.com/pxart.png http://www.reddit.com/r/tf2trade/comments/yk9ji/psa_i_believe_the_tf2_pricing_spreadsheet_at/c5wd6p6 • 4.45pm - The spreadsheet is unchanged, showing a Strange Botkiller Med Gun price of 10-14 keys http://i.imgur.com/I48Dq.png • 4.47pm - It's still in The Spreadsheet Admin's inventory, but he sells it for 10 keys during the next 29 minutes to an unfortunate victim named Untamed Staamina. http://imgur.com/4khUW http://www.tf2outpost.com/item/1045336471 • 5.12pm - He reduces the price down from 10-14 keys to 9-10 keys on his spreadsheet http://i.imgur.com/jWAr8.png • 5.16pm - Screenshots confirm that the Medi Gun has gone from SmokedGouda's inventory before 5.16pm. He has sold it for 10 keys only a few minutes before cutting his Spreadsheet's price range down to 9-10 keys from 10-14 keys. Once again, the change in the Spreadsheet prices occurs just minutes later - so fast that it looks certain that it was prepared before he traded. If the buyer had been given a chance to see the new, much lower, spreadsheet price, a few minutes later, would he still have accepted this much less attractive deal? http://i.imgur.com/eEdq2.jpg 20 August 2012, 11:40pm - The Reddit post accusing the Spreadsheet Admin of these activities was published.