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What users can do about 133TGate
What is 133TGate?
133TGate is a scandal that was recently discovered by users in early September. At first, unusual marketplace activity had come to the attention of users when the marketplace activity suddenly spiked from about 100T to 300T. The cause of this was a staff mule dropping hundreds of trillions of gold onto the MP by massively overpaying for items, the worst offense being a purchase of 133T of a Double Rainbow ticket (the normal price of the Double Rainbow is estimated at about 8T+).

When users investigated into the purchases, they discovered a mule who made the purchases being extremely shady and upon further discovery noted that it was actually impossible for the mule to have that much gold. The initial thread about the thread was posted in the GCD. The mule defended it's purchases claiming that they were normal activity and legitimate, lied to the users inquiring about the purchase and stating that they bought the ticket because they had been questing for it and intended to use it, and harassed one user to stop being so nosy about the incident. Shortly after, an administrator stepped into the thread claimed that they had investigated into the purchases and that the purchases were legitimate.

Another user thought something was fishy and doxxed the mule only to discover that the mule was a staff account belonging to an artist on Gaia Online, meaning that the staff was caught red-handed using illegitimate gold and manipulating prices on the MP and also very openly lied about it and tried to cover it up. User suspicions were later confirmed by a post by an administration in the SF claiming that the gold was generated from staff testing, used to buy items for Flynn's Plunder (because they did not want to generate new items for some reason), only acknowledging the 133T purchase, and then openly stating that they would reverse the transaction publicly, but then contacting the seller of the Double Rainbow ticket privately with a totally different deal.

Two more staff mules were uncovered shortly and users confirmed that the same mules did also vastly over purchase items on the MP, with one of those mules belonging to an administrator. As such, evidence came to light that the staff have been manipulating prices on the MP for quite possibly a very long time, which is not only extremely deceptive practice since they have these items for sale on the CS and are misrepresenting their value, but directly going against their word to the users that they would never directly interfere with the marketplace.

UPDATE: Gaia Online has responded with a completely half-assed and conflicting response claiming, once again, that the purchase was accidental ("late at night and too many zeros" wink , acknowledging that they have made shady purchases for a while and claimed (instead of putting items in Flynn's Plunder which was the last excuse) that it was part of an experiment to test how users spend gold and this would somehow make items more readily available instead of simply generating more items to make them more readily available.

It was also confirmed that a staff member cheated by donating enough gold to win the Creme Cruz Halo from a kickstarter (top 10 donators were offered this prize) using the same "test gold" used to buy things like the 133T ticket. Upon being called out about it, the staff issued the Halo to the 11th place winner but insisted that their intent was using the halo as a prize in the next kickstarter instead of, once again, simply generating a new halo.

It has also been confirmed that they have not reversed the transaction like they publicly claimed, but instead gave the seller several items. It is also extremely unlikely that any of the transactions will be reversed and Gaia Online will continue to have staff manipulate the marketplace.

Why should users care?
Though Gaia has been known for many extremely unethical business practices, especially over the course of the past year, many users have been negatively affected since these unethical business practices were used to influence their buying decision (ever feel pressured to buy something with GC because it was impossibly expensive on the MP? this would include you). Even though this is a site where users purchase virtual clothes Gaia Online is a business, users are consumers, and Gaia Online is held accountable to laws that businesses must follow including laws that protect consumers from unethical business practices. However, they will not be held accountable unless someone reports them to the proper authorities.

What can I do about it?
If you have made purchases through Gaia Online and feel that your purchasing decisions have been influenced by Gaia's unethical practices, you can do something about it. There's no guarantee that something will be done, but if users do not act then it's guaranteed nothing will be done and Gaia Online will continue to profit illegitimately from it's userbase.

Make sure to:
1) Include all the information you know about Gaia's business practices and how you've been negatively affected as a consumer
2) Write clearly and professionally
3) Include any information you believe is relevant so that the person reading the complaint can get a full understanding of what's been going on

FTC Complaint Form

Keep in mind that the FTC cannot resolve individual complaints, but it can file lawsuit against businesses for unethical practices. (There is no guarantee that the FTC will file suit or what the FTC's actions will be if they do eventually decide to investigate).

Speak up about the incident:
Post about the incident whether it's on your social media outlets (tumblr, deviantart, twitter, etc). Let people know this is going on. The more people who know, the more it can't be covered up. Be sure to share your story about what's been going on and how you've been effected by it.

Additional Reading and Information:
Advertising and Marketing on the Internet

If you have any further information, questions, complaints (constructive only), suggestions, feel free to comment or contact me via PM. Please note this is a WIP and I will add more information as needed.

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