Tag: fight back

Twitter Fights Back Against Scammers


Twitter is enormously successful, but this has meant that a whole community of people create and sell dummy Twitter accounts by the thousands, largely to scammers and spammers .

This is a problem for Twitter as they prohibit use of automation to create accounts and the selling of accounts.

Twitter is always looking for better ways to identify these dummy accounts before they are used for sending scams and spam messages.

A group of researchers approached Twitter asking for permission to purchase credentials from a variety of Twitter account merchants. They got their permission and spent $5,000 over ten months buying accounts from at least 27 different underground sellers.

This totalled some 121,000 Twitter accounts at prices from $10 to $200 per thousand.

When you crate a new Twitter account there are two barriers that should stop scammers but they don’t.

First is the Capcha –which is the picture containing numbers and you have to key in the numbers. Computers are very poor at doing these so it prevents an automatic system from making accounts. However, the scammer pay workshops in China, India or eastern Europe to solve the Capchas.

Second is the need for a valid email address but these can be created automatically on services such as Hotmail, so problem solved for the scammers.

The researchers bought a lot of Accounts from the merchants and identified key qualities that were consistently present. This then enabled the creation of profiles for each merchant.

Twitter then used those profiles to delete large numbers of dummy accounts that had been created.

As the merchants typically built up a bank of thousands of accounts before selling, they then hit problems as most of their accounts had become worthless.  The 27 merchants concerned lost a lot of money and their reputations.

The project was a big success.   However checks some months later showed that the merchants were changing their methods and the profiles no longer worked so well in identifying the dummy accounts.

It’s a constant battle for Twitter but they are fighting the good fight.

Sara Confronts a Local Business Scammer


Sara ordered nearly a thousand pounds worth of window shutters  and six months later she says

“To date I have not received my shutters and I’m still trying to get my money back”

The business wouldn’t return her calls or respond to her emails.

She says “the only time I get through to him is calling him from telephone numbers which he doesn’t recognise. Since I placed my order he has changed his website and is trading under a new company name. He is still taking orders – and presumably money! – from customers. “

The Fightback Ninja heard what had happened and contacted Sara with an offer to publicise the story on his blog Fightback Ninja Blog and on his radio spot on Brooklands Radio.

Sara didn’t reply straightaway but instead forwarded the Ninja’s message to the company.

And suddenly they wanted to talk with her.

That’s the power of Radio. 

Cheats want to stay hidden from the glare of publicity.

Sara says “I finally got a reply from Mr X after I forwarded Fightback Ninja’s offer to do a case study on radio and the www. After learning of his circumstances, I didn’t want to add to his problems.The good news is the credit card company have upheld my claim so I’m not out of pocket which makes me more inclined to draw a line under the matter”.

Well done Sara (with a little help from the Fightback Ninja)

If you are scammed, don’t just accept it. Do whatever you can to get the money back and stop the scammer if possible. Also you should report the scam to Action Fraud.