I have some virtual items that someone wants to buy. As an example, Dark Artistry sells for ~£300.

When trading with Steam you can exchange Steam money for items via their trade system. Alternately I can sell these on the Steam Market, again for Steam money. Steam money cannot be transferred for 'real' money.

Currently I would prefer 'real' money over Steam money, and so these services would be unusable for me.

I have a very untrusting view of people when it comes to money. And given my lack of knowledge when it comes to financial scams, and safe practices when selling goods. I'd like to stay safe when selling my items.

The buyer suggested PayPal, Venmo, eTransfer, Visa, etc. However I've heard you can cancel Visa transfers, but don't know the ins and outs of how or when you do this. Or if this is a common feature of these services.
Currently it seems like there is a possibility that:

  1. the buyer could send me money which I confirm.
  2. I then give them the items via Steam.
  3. They cancel the transfer.
  4. I can't cancel the Steam trade.
  5. I have no items and no money. :(

What precautions should I take when selling virtual items online?
Should I use a third party that provides a specific service, such as escrow?


Look up SteamRep Middlemen. Message them via steam and ask if they can act as a middleman for your transaction. These people have been trusted with thousands of dollars multiple times and the community as a whole has trusted their services, but make sure you have the correct profile as they are very often impersonated.

A typical transaction would play out like this:

  1. Both parties agree to work with a chosen middleman
  2. The party that is trading for the virtual item sends the money to the middleman. Similarly, the party that is trading for the money sends the virtual item to the middleman.
  3. The middleman delivers the money and the item to their respective parties.

Quick edit: if any party is suspected of trying to scam throughout the transaction, the middleman immediately cancels and returns the goods to their respective parties.

If you are unsure about the other party, it is always good practice to look up their steam profiles on SteamRep ahead of time, where any reports of misbehaviour is documented where anything from a CAUTION tag to a red tagged BANNED.

If you are not trusting of PayPal due to the charge back scam, Bitcoin is always an option.

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  • Can you specify how the money transfer in (2) works? As far as I know, you can't directly transfer money within Steam. How do the middlemen send the money to the seller? – Nosjack Aug 22 '19 at 12:39
  • Thank you for the answer. :D @Nosjack Probably through PayPal, visa, etc – user42100 Aug 22 '19 at 12:40
  • @Nosjack, it is through any method the parties have decided through before hand. Parties would discuss if they want it through Paypal, venmo, giftcards, bitcoin, literally anything that can act as currency outside of Steam Trading. The middleman would usually have accommodations for the most common types of transactions. – MrMineHeads Aug 22 '19 at 12:43

Safely? You exchange it for Steam wallet funds, and use them to buy games for your own account. (Or birthday gifts or whatnot.) There's no good way to get actual cash from a Steam item, only various flavors of shady. 3rd-party sites don't have a way to confirm that the item transfer actually went through, so most escrow techniques don't actually work.

A least-bad way of getting real money out of it is to sell it for Steam bucks, then buy games for friends you know in real life as a Steam "gift" in exchange for money.

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  • 1
    This isn't helpful. Not only have you suggested the only method I can't do, you've basically said 'you're fucked' with a lot of hand waving and no proof. – user42100 Aug 22 '19 at 11:17

I don't think there is a safe way of doing this.

In addition to the other answer I would be careful with selling Steam items outside of Steam. I'm not sure what the Terms of Service says on that, from my experience in online games it's usually prohibited to sell anything inside the game or your whole account for REAL money to someone. If you choose to do so and it's not allowed, you could also get in trouble with Steam itself.

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