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Fantasy Baseball Ripoffs by Al O'Harra
Every year guys that love fantasy baseball decide to do something they would never do if not for their love of the hobby, they find someone over the internet posting a "Private League" and then send a complete stranger money because they traded an email or spoke to someone who seemed nice, usually once, over the phone. Then they play a "money" league on a free site and, if they win, they do not see a single dime. Now they surely have a clue their might be a problem getting paid even from the beginning, but that idea comes to fruition when the commissioner takes him out of league soon after the season ends, wont take his calls, and wont answer his emails. At that point, he knows he has been ripped off.
Now do not take these comments as disparaging to private leagues. I began playing a private league. I built a passion for the game playing private leagues. I think if you are getting together with a trusted group of guys, face to face, to draft, and a trusted member of the group is handling the money, you should definately go for it. But what is happening all too often is intelligent people are trusting flat out strangers (who are scammers) with their money, and often, the only one who knows it was a scam is the actual winner(s).
Here is a clue:
After you have paid, you are told that for each players "protection" you cannot post your email address or telephone number. If you do so you will be immediately removed from the league. At the end of the year, when the scammer removes the 1st Place Winner from the league, who is one person who knows this is a scam as they do not get paid, the winner therefore has no way to notify the other team owners it is all a scam and he was never paid. So the scammer can continue to scam the remaining team owners over and over.
Scammers boast 100% payout and they usually want a minimum number of winners. They collect everyone's buy-in knowing full well that they will keep the money if they do not win. In other cases, they play multiple teams and trade accordingly to ensure they win. Since scammers often use message boards on large websites to lure in new prey, quite often, these "private league" posts are for open teams in keeper or dynasty leagues.
Clearly, this is not what fantasy baseball is all about. But it does happen quite often every year and gives the entire hobby a black eye. This is a wonderful hobby which you can enjoy for years to come.
At FSRU, we want you to be smart and make good decisions at this time of year...
Do Not Let Anyone Ruin Fantasy Baseball For You.
Public leagues are leagues hosted by a website. While a website does increase legitimacy, it can also cloak similar bad behavior to that which occurs in private leagues. Here is a series of Tips to help you stay safe when choosing a public leagues site:
1. Google tends to award high page rank to Older Sites. A site does not necessarily have to be on page 1, but if you cannot find the site listed in the first 10 pages for prime keywords, such as "fantasy baseball leagues" or "fantasy sports leagues" or "fantasy baseball keeper leagues" it may have been flagged as a clone site by google (just one indicator, there are lots of reasons for poor search engine ranking), or it is a young site...Avoid.
2. Sites that accept credit cards are better than "Paypal Only" sites. Paypal will only review a resolution between parties for the first 60 days. If they refuse to review it, clearly, they offer no resolution at all. Since a baseball season takes 7 months to complete, that pretty much kills any chance you have of even getting your buy in money returned. While a bank cannot get your winnings either, if they get enough of the same complaints, they can certainly cut off your merchant account. Look for a leagues site that takes credit cards on a secure server (https:// on the Payment Page, not http://). Even when scammers start off with credit card sites, soon enough after, they end up "Paypal Only."
3. Look for a master site, a deeper site with lots of pages, an original website. If the site looks like it could be easily cloned, it probably has been. Scammers love to clone. Look for a site without spelling errors or poor use of the english language. When you click on a rules page, it should provide more than just a handful of bullet points. If you are reading the site, and you get the feeling that the person who wrote this understood the game, that is better. Serious league sites try to let you know that they understand the game. This is real to them, they share your thrill for fantasy baseball.
4. If the site has a bunch of Gambling Sites advertising on the homepage. Not Good.
5. If a site advertises in publications, they are spending money to initiate growth. Since scammers rarely intend to "invest" in business growth, they rarely advertise. Scammers intend to steal and run for as long as they can on a site. If they get an email account closed or a website shut down, not to worry, they have a dozen others.
6. Private league scammers offer almost a complete payout back to the players, website scammers as high as 90% payouts, or even more. That's their big draw. They play on peoples attempts to "get the best deal" as well as the public lack of knowledge on the actual costs of operating a fantasy baseball league site.
Legitimate leagues sites have to pay for statistics. Unless the site is so cruddy it puts its players in free leagues that kill you with advertising (which is what many private "money" leagues do as explained above), no matter how you cut it, MLB is getting paid for their direct feed to provide baseball statistics. To get statistics, sites must build league templates and pay for a direct feed (which sadly, rarely works out well), or pay for a third party vendors league templates (like cbssports.com or espn.com) to provide.
In addition to the payouts and statistics, expenses include credit card merchant account fees (or paypal fees), a website designer, hosting costs, and advertising expenses. Bottom line is, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is...
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