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These are G.A.B.'s guidelines for trading collectable cards over the net. We cannot anticipate every situation, but if traders follow these guidelines, G.A.B. believes everyone will have the same expectations. Hard feelings and misunderstandings about transactions will be reduced.

What is G.A.B.?

Randy Johnson (Admiral Wolfman) created G.A.B. in 1996 to provide tools for online traders to protect themselves from bad traders. He established a comprehensive Bad Trader List and the team structure. G.A.B. members have their trading references verified by their Team Leader. A member's rank is determined by their number of confirmed references

As more people join G.A.B. to unite against bad traders, online trading becomes safer for everyone.

As G.A.B. has grown, it has become too big for just one person to maintain. G.A.B. is currently led by Grand Admiral Mortal Q and a High Council of experienced Team Leaders.

Why Join G.A.B.?

All traders are welcomed in G.A.B. We do not discriminate based on the kind of cards you trade. To join, a trader needs two things: a working email address and one valid trading reference. We consider all references of equal value, no matter the source. After joining G.A.B. you can benefit from the experience of numerous high ranking veteran traders who volunteer their time freely to G.A.B.

How Do I Join G.A.B.?

First, read the G.A.B. Code of Conduct carefully. If you agree to follow it, you should fill out the application on the Sign Up Page. You must have at least one valid trading reference. (A reference is someone with whom you have traded over the internet.) When your application is accepted and processed, you will be a member of G.A.B. with the rank of Ensign. You will be assigned to a team led by an Admiral who will check and confirm your references for you. To gain rank, you must submit more references.

How to Trade Safely Online?

  1. NEVER assume someone is a good trader because he/she claims to be a member of a trading organization. Although trading groups do their best to make sure their members are honest, occasionally someone "sneaks" in intending to gain high rank and then rip people off.
  2. A trader with very few references should expect to send first. However, beware of anyone who tells you, "You must send first because I'm in a trading group," but doesn't have a large number of references to support their demand.On the other hand, it goes against the G.A.B. Code to require a trader with sufficient references to send first, unless there is a good reason.
  3. Request the following information from traders with whom you are dealing:
    Real Name
    There is nothing you can do about a bad trade if you do not know the other persons full, real name.
    Street Address
    This is should be the complete physical address where you are shipping your trade. Note: Many good traders use a Post Office Box address, but they are frequently used and abused by serial bad traders. A Post Office Box address may be a warning signal.
    Telephone Number
    With a big trade (greater than $50 value), consider asking for the other person's phone number and calling unannounced before the trade. This ensures you can reach the trader directly in the event of a problem. Bad traders are very reluctant to provide their direct telephone number. We recommend speaking to a trader by telephone for any transaction in excess of $50 value.
    An e-mail "paper trail" is important if a trade goes badly. Never conclude a trade/sale in a chat room or using a "messenger" like Yahoo or AOL IM. You can discuss trades in a chat room setting, but always finalize a trade via e-mail. Keep a record of who is sending what and when.
  4. Always check references. Even if someone sends you a long list of references, it is not a guarantee he/she is honest. It is easy to create a list of good traders who may never have heard of the trader. Take the time to check references. An honest trader will understand that it might take a day or two until you get enough positive replies to satisfy you. If somebody pushes you to send quickly without giving you time to check his/her references, be wary. If someone has all freemail references like or, you should be extra careful. A single person intent on ripping you off can have a reference list of 20-30 addresses that all belong to him. If the person is a G.A.B. member, you can contact their Team Leader to ask about them.
  5. When you send reference checks, ask specific questions:
    • Did the cards arrive in time?
    • Were they well protected?
    • Were they in the condition agreed upon?
  6. Questions like this could spare you a lot of disappointment and trouble later.
  7. Besure to clear up certain details before your trade. Always confirm the condition of the cards. Make sure your trading partner has the cards he/she is trading in his/her possession. Occasionally, people unwisely trade cards they have not yet received from prior trades. This "trading forward" can lead to trouble.
  8. If you are suspicious about a trader (for example if you got negative feedback or the references look suspicious), e-mail the person and politely cancel the deal. Explain your reasons. There is nothing wrong with stopping a trade before either party has sent cards, if you don't feel comfortable about the deal or dealer.
  9. Check out G.A.B.'s huge Bad Trader List as well as others on the internet to stay informed of bad traders online. Note: G.A.B.'s Bad Trader List is long, but by using the search engine, you can check if a name, e-mail, street name, town, etc. is on the list.
  10. If you send cards of high value, send them certified (with or without return receipt). It will cost more, but you have proof that your trade partner received the cards if anything goes wrong.
  11. Remember, if a trade sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't be greedy; think before you trade.

What Do I Do If I'm Ripped Off?

  1. If you sent the cards certified, ask the postal office to put a trace on your letter. It may take a while, but they can confirm if the letter arrived at its destination.
  2. If you confirm that your trade partner received the cards you sent, tell him you will take legal actions against him if he doesn't send you the cards he promised or send your cards back. Contrary to common belief, it is NOT hard to report people for mail fraud. Since it is a Federal Crime, it is taken very serious by the postal office.
  3. If you think your trading partner is a minor, it may help to send another letter (certified) to his home. Address it to his parents (Mr. or Mrs "whatever his name"). Many parents have no idea what their kids are doing, but once they learn about it they may take action.
  4. Last but not least, don't hesitate to take legal action. You may think, "It's just a few cards," but it adds up if someone rips people off frequently. Theft has become very common in online trading and we need to stand up and fight back. As long as thieves feel safe and think they can not be punished for what they are doing, they will keep doing it.
  5. Report the Bad Trader to G.A.B. See below.

Shipping Responsibility

Trading protocol dictates that the sender is responsible for the shipment. In other words, if your cards (or money) does not reach destination, you are considered responsible.

We highly recommend insuring your cards / payment as often as possible. A good rule of thumb is to do so when the cost of insurance is less than 10% of the cards value. Insuring your cards (or the more expensive options of certified or registered mail) provides you with written, dated proof and, most importantly, a verifiable tracking number. This proves you are a reliable and honest trader in the event of a dispute, and you'll be covered in the event of a loss.

Remember that if the other trader claims never to have received your cards/payment, it will be your responsibility to prove they were sent on time and to the correct address. Finding mail without a tracking number will be a difficult process at best.

When buying cards from an individual, pay by check or money order; be sure to keep written proof. When buying cards from a company, pay by credit card. This is the best protection because you can dispute charges later if necessary. It is unwise to send cash, because many post offices worldwide will confiscate cash if they spot it. If you do decide to send cash, always insure the shipment.

Insuring and Return Receipt procedures vary from country to country. Information should be available at your local post office. They can also tell you who to contact if there is a delay problem.

Guidelines for new online traders

1) Learn the conditions of cards

Need to evaluate the condition of your cards and understand the other traders' evaluation of theirs. All cards traded by a G.A.B. member should be at least in Near Mint condition. If a card is not Mint or Near Mint, you must inform your trading partner.

The most commonly used descriptions and abbreviations used to describe cards are from Scrye Magazine, which publishes a trading guide. (P.O. Box 1627, Troy, NY 12181-1627, G.A.B. follows this guide. Common abbreviations are shown in parenthesis.

Mint (M): This is a card which is perfect in every way.

Near Mint (NM) : This (probably) unplayed card shows almost no wear but may have a few minor scratches or slight marks on the card's edges. In general, collectors seek only Mint and Near Mint cards.

Fine (F): This card has obviously been played, but not heavily. It lacks marks that would make it easily identifiable. It definitely has some minor scratches and/or less-than-perfect edges. It will show less than 1/16" depth of white along one or two edges of one face of the card. It may have a minor crease that is only visible close-up.

Good (G): This card has a played look to it. It will have white showing on three or four edges on both faces. This card may also have more than 1/16" depth of white showing on an edge on the back face of the card. It may also be a card that looks like a Near Mint card except that it has one distinguishing wear feature, such as a slight tear, or an easily identifiable crease. It may also have permanent black marks from dirt. It is only acceptable for play if it cannot be easily distinguished from the other cards of the play deck.

Poor (P): Any card in less than Good condition.

Misprints & Errors: If a card is mangled by the factory by being irregularly cut or crunched by the flow wrap machine, it often has no value. If a card has a text/icon/art error that is later corrected, it may have a premium value.

2) Learn the value of cards.

If there were unanimous agreement on the prices and values of cards, there would be no need for 95% of the traffic in trade groups! Price will depend on many factors. Common ones include: card rarity (within the print run), size of the print run, edition of the print run (including language), playability of the card, tournament restrictions on particular cards, location of the person(s) offering the card, and card condition.

There are still variables specific to individual situations. Someone looking for a single card to complete a collection or play deck might pay significantly more for a card than might otherwise be expected. Another person may discount the value of a card well below the typical value because they already have one or more, don't play that color/type of card or are looking for a quick sale.

Finally, card values are affected by decisions of the game manufacturer. An out of print card might be reprinted by the manufacturer in a new edition or the manufacturer might announce that a particular card will never be reprinted. A new edition card might be as acceptable to players as the original edition, but collectors might want only the old edition or the new. Differences in play between new and old cards will cause some price variation. Obviously if a manufacturer announces that they will never reprint a card, that card is likely to increase in value.

Several good price guides are available and revised monthly. The most frequently used are the magazines Scrye and Inquest, easily found at any large bookstore or gaming store. These magazines "poll" card stores for current prices. In general, as long as you use the same source for both side of the trade, you can be fairly certain that the trade is fair.

Much like real estate, a card is worth what a willing seller and a willing buyer agree upon of their own free will. This will necessarily vary from transaction to transaction.

3) Mail your cards properly protected!

You must protect the cards you are sending. Do not assume that an envelope (no matter how thick) is all that is needed. When mailing cards, place them inside "penny sleeves," soft plastic holders that will not scratch cards. Put no more then 3 cards in the "penny sleeve." Place the sleeve inside "top loaders," hard plastic sleeves that will protect the cards from almost anything. Cover the top loader with a piece of tape to prevent the cards from slipping out, but be sure to insert the penny sleeve-protected cards in the top loader with the top edge facing inside. This prevents glue from the tape ruining the card edges. Wrapping the top loaders with a sheet of thick paper will prevent anyone from "scanning" your package. Finally, place the top loaders in an envelope. For extra protection, consider a padded envelope.

"Penny sleeves" and "top loaders" are available from any card dealer, both retail and online. Padded envelopes can be purchased at an office supply store or the post office.

Sleeves and top loaders are fine for small numbers of cards, but when sending moderate to large numbers they are not practical. If sending enough cards to require a box, wrap the cards in paper or plastic. Make sure the box is well padded. The cards should not be able to move at all in any direction; if cards can move, they will be damaged while in transit. Wadded newspaper and/or plastic peanuts will protect the cards in the box.

A final note whenever packaging cards: although tape is usually necessary in order to secure cards for shipping, it is always a good idea to keep the tape as far away from the cards as possible because any sort of contact can damage the ink and cardboard.

See for information on weights and postage.

4) Identify fake cards.

Fake or fraudulent cards are occasionally a problem with high value cards and foils. Magazines like Scrye can be resources for help in identifying these cards. More experienced traders may have good tips, too.

5) Get references.

If you do not have references, you will probably have to send first. However, if you take the proper precautions (How to Trade Safely Online) and trade small value cards at first, it is less likely you will be cheated. Make sure to send your cards in a timely fashion and in the promised condition.

After every trade, ask the other trader if you can use him/her as a reference. Wait for permission before you do so; offer to do the same in return!

It is G.A.B.'s policy to accept only trade references. Buying cards does not count toward gaining rank. A reference must be able to confirm the condition of cards as well as how well and promptly they are shipped.

6) Report a Bad Trade.

If the alleged bad trader is a current G.A.B. member, please fill out the Internal Affairs Investigation Request Form.

If the alleged bad trader is not a current G.A.B. member, please fill out the Inquisitor Investigation Request Form.

Note: You will need to submit archived copies of all correspondence with the other parties as well as copies of any mailing receipts you have. For this reason, we recommend you keep all e-mails intact until transactions are completed satisfactorily and acknowledged on both side sand that you save all receipts until the trade is completed.

As an added measure against Bad Traders, we suggest you consider filing a claim with your nearest Local, State, or Provincial Attorney General's Office or Solicitor's Office. Include a detailed explanation of your claim. Since Mail Fraud is a federal offense in many countries, contacting the Postmaster at your local post office or the nearest Postal Inspector's Office can often lead to some recourse.

In the United States, bad trading is a federal offense punishable by law under the statutes regarding Mail Fraud and Misrepresentation. You can find the appropriate information at the following location:

The section we believe they are violating is:

You can make a fraud report here:

Common Courtesy Note to Traders

  1. Be open and honest with other traders. Send cards when agreed. If you want a person to send first, tell him.
  2. Follow up on your trades. Inform your partner when his cards arrive.
  3. Don't ask other people to send first if you only have a few references.
  4. Don't act like you are superior or a better trader than someone just because you are a member of a trading group.
  5. Be polite.

If you have questions that aren't answered here contact Grand Admiral Mortal Q