A look inside a ‘click fraud’ business worth $6000 per month
IF YOU'RE an avid social media user, chances are you have seen fake profiles offering likes for cash payments.
And while internet traffic perpetuated by bots and fake accounts is nothing new, the logistics of such operations usually remain highly secretive.
However, a recent police raid has given a rare insight into the intricate workings of a click fraud business worth AU$6000 per month.
After raiding a rental property in Thailand, police arrested Wang Dong, Niu Bang and Ni Wenjin for being the masterminds behind the fraudulent internet enterprise.
Discovered on the property was a makeshift rig holding 500 smartphones that were all connected to a computer monitor.
Police also seized 350,000 SIM cards, 21 SIM card readers and nine computers from the location, which was believed to be the base of operations for a fraudulent call centre - a common practice in Southeast Asia.
However, it was later discovered the operation was for sock puppet accounts - multiple accounts controlled by the same user for the purpose of fraudulently gaming internet forums and social media websites.
According to a Thai immigration officer, this particular operation was used the equipment to operate bots to generate fake page views, likes and shares on China's largest social network, WeChat.
The immigration officer claimed a Chinese company supplied the three men with the technology and paid them $A6000 per month to run the operation.
Police are currently investigating how the criminal operation has acquired so many mobile phones and SIM cards from local service providers, with the ID of customers being recorded at the time of purchase for the later.
The three men have all been charged with working without a permit and illegitimately importing the devices into the country.
Have you ever purchased fake likes? Continue the conversation in the comments below or with Matthew Dunn on Facebook and Twitter.