Tag Archives: fraud

Inside an Instagram Bot Farm

by Frizsina Eordogh, Motherboard

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Fake Accounts Still Plague Instagram Despite Purge, Study Finds

by Deepa Seetharaman, Wall Street Journal

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Meet the bots that made half the web’s traffic in 2014

Bots, those software programs that automate web activity, accounted for 56% of Internet traffic in 2014, according to content delivery platform Incapsula. (This was actually down from 61.5% of traffic in 2013.)

 Though you might not notice them, bots are everywhere online—and used for both good and evil. Here are the main types of bots you’ll run across: (Alice Truong, Quartz)

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FTC to Dating Site: No More Sales Come-Ons from Flirty Bots

The owner of such sites as cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com and findmelove.com reportedly allowed consumers to set up free dating profiles with personal information and photos. Users with those free accounts would receive messages from people who appeared to be nearby. But only someone with a paid membership could reply to messages.

But the messages those free account-holders received “were almost always from fake, computer-generated profiles — ‘Virtual Cupids’ — created by the defendants, with photos and information designed to closely mimic the profiles of real people,” according to the FTC. The only indication that such profiles didn’t belong to genuine members was a vanishingly small “VC” icon. And the only explanation of what that tiny icon meant was “buried in a terms and conditions page,” according to the FTC.

People would sign up for accounts that ranged from $10 to $30 a month, only to be disappointed when the “person” whose interest had encouraged them to join suddenly evaporated. (Erik Sherman, Daily Finance)

Robot Offering Young Woman Flower Bouquet

Image: Mimi Haddon / Getty Images

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Watch Online Ad Fraud “Bots” in Action

In 24 hours the single infected “bot” machine loaded thousands of webpages, and a total of 10,000 fraudulent banner and video ad impressions, Forensiq said. Those fraudulent ads included ones for major brands including Verizon, Chase, Toyota, Tide, Buick, Aleve, Citi, Comcast, Sprint, Ford, and numerous others. (Jack Marshall, The Wall Street Journal)

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Watch Out for the Identity-Stealing Spambots of Instagram

The latest crop of spambots on Instagram are employing a trick even slimier than just buying fake followers: They’re stealing profiles. As The Verge reported today, some Instagram users are getting followed by their bot doppelgängers, profiles made up entirely from their ripped-off images.

This goes down because Instagram bot makers are lazy (not to mention bad at making life choices). They don’t want to come up with thousands of fake-yet-realistic digital personas, especially since the more active accounts they have control over, the more money they can make selling follows and likes from these accounts on the underground market for Instagram follows and likes.

Identity-stealing bots aren’t new on social media. Facebook and Twitter have had them for years. They’re not even new on Instagram. Instagram users have been complaining about them since at least 2012. (Kate Knibbs, Gizmodo)

Watch Out for the Identity-Stealing Spambots of Instagram

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Etsy Works to Block Future Scammers from Setting up Bot Shops

Scammers targeted Etsy in an unusual attack over the long Independence Day holiday weekend, and the marketplace had the situation under control by Monday morning.

On Saturday, Etsy sellers began reporting “bot shops,” and it was through their efforts the marketplace took action against the scammers. As we reported on Monday, scammers opened hundreds of shops on Etsy containing listings copied from other sellers; it appeared the perpetrators were taking orders (and presumably payments) with no intention of fulfilling them. (Ina Steiner, eCommerce Bytes)

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