Every week, I’ve been talking to you about how to get information, how to outsmart your competitors, and ultimately, how to profit. But I feel I’ve been remiss in not bringing up any of trading’s risks. Something happened this week to drive this issue home. In my last article, I talked about a collection I had bought online containing 2 Jace, 2 foil Jaces, 2 Force of Wills, and some other very expensive cards, at a price that was a steal. The seller agreed to ship the cards to me COD. Thankfully, a reader contacted me after reading last week’s article letting me know that he had bought a collection containing the exact same card, and the cards turned out to be fake. Here’s the email he sent me:
I saw in your last article and it mentioned a collection with 2 Jaces, 2 foil Jaces, various duals etc. I ended up buying that set of cards from the guy and it turns out they are fake (all the valuable ones at least). I was wondering if you had been in contact with the poster and if you had any info on him. I understand it is a longshot that I'll stand any chance of getting my money back, but any help/advice you can provide would be really helpful. Thank you very much and I hope you are doing well.
After looking around for some information, I found out that the same person had tried to sell the same batch of cards to two local stores, Galactic Force, and Pastimes. Now, to be fair, I don’t know for sure if it’s the same guy. His actions have been fairly suspicious though. Apparently the guy that sold the reader the cards told the same story about his brother moving out and needing to sell his old cards. But does that really make sense? Considering there was a foil Venser, the Sojourner in the collection, does that mean his brother moved out, and less than 2 weeks later he was selling the cards? Also, he said that his paypal account had been closed and asked to ship COD instead. I hadn’t thought about that at the time, but it would’ve left me unable to file a claim had I found out that the cards were fake. Even worse, had I received the cards and not discovered they were fake, I was planning to sell them to a friend who usually buys cards from me. I know it sounds corny, but if there are two things more important to me than money, they’re my reputation and my friends. All of this just points to the complete disaster this could have been if a concerned reader hadn’t let me know what was going on, for which I am extremely thankful.
But there’s something more important here than a community service announcement. Whenever entering an investment, risk should be a major factor in your considerations. I want to cover two kinds of risk today: investment risk and material risk. I’ll explain in the respective sections what each kind of risk entails.
This is the traditional risk that all traders face. Whenever you buy a card, you must be thinking “Can I sell this card? If I can’t make a profit, can I at least make my money back? What is the most I stand to lose?” investment risk is effectively the monetary loss you take by trading for or buying a card and then reselling it. When looking at how likely you will be able to be to resell a card, it’s important to consider the markets interested in a card. This is why cards currently in Standard that are only played in Eternal formats are worth significantly less than those that are Standard staples. Because the market for those eternal cards is smaller, they are worth less and are harder to sell. As an example of this, let’s look at my last Pack to Power Trade:
1 Foil Eldrazi Temple
1 Goblin Guide
1 Necrotic Ooze
1 Leonin Arbiter
2 Inkwell Leviathan
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Now this was a very poor trade for me, and I’m quite worried about where Pack to Power will be going after this. While I came out ahead monetarily, I traded away cards critical for several Standard archetypes, for some larger ticket ETERNAL items. Now, if I were able to find an Eternal player, I might be able to move these Ionas, but given the amount of money Eternal players invest in their decks, it’s unlikely they wont already have more than enough Ionas to go around. As such, it will be extremely difficult for me to trade these off, so I’ll need to examine new avenues for how to trade myself out of this hole. My trading for Ionas here is a prime example of not paying attention to Investment risk, as I will now most likely lose money on them.
This one’s more related to my introduction. Material risk is the risk you incur from trading or dealing with those less scrupulous. Whether it’s someone making fake cards, coloring in the borders of Revised cards to make them more valuable (easy to catch, but only if you’re paying attention), stealing bags from under tables, or even just slipping cards your binder into their pocket while they’re browsing it, you stand to lose quite a lot of money if you aren’t careful. While you could of course say to only trade with people you trust, there’s no reason to limit yourself like that. Instead, just be vigilant. From now on, my general rule is going to be “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” In the earlier situation, I let my discovery blind me. I was so excited to be making this find, on my very first search of craigslist, that I disregarded warning signs, and it almost cost me dearly. Needless to say, the chances of me paying for the package once it arrives are very low.
With all that said, I want to create a new project. If you’ve ever been the victim of a Magic scam, whether the cards were never sent, or they were fake, or anything else like that, just post your story in the comment or email it to me (my email is at the bottom of the article). I’ll examine some of the stories and look for common themes to find some more specific ways for you to protect yourself.
No cards that seem to be shooting up overly much this week. I would recommend selling off Frost Titans now, as I feel both Grave Titan and Abyssal Persecutor are better options for U/B Control, and I don’t know if RUG Control is heavily played enough to sustain the current $15 price tag. I’ve recently started playing some Pauper online, which is quite a breath of fresh air from the current Standard format, which I’m already finding slightly boring. For the record, U/R Tron is amazing and so much fun to play. There is northing better than literally just doming your opponent for 20 with a rolling Thunder, or the Tron mirror, where both players have 20-30 mana by turn 8. I managed to top 16 the Pauper PE this past weekend after some topdecks from both me and my opponents, but given that it was my first tournament with the deck, I was fairly happy with the result.
Well, that’s all for this week, hope you enjoyed it. Once again, don’t forget to submit your scam stories to me, for the benefit of the trading community as a whole!
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