Topic: Spammers' Hobbies

I hope this post isn't in bad taste.

I read an explanation from Duane a while back about how a lot of "new members" were really just spammers. So, I looked at the profile of a couple of new members, just out of curiosity. There's been a lot of good people joining us, but the Spam Members are (almost) funny. They seem to have no posts, but have a link in their profile to some questionable enterprise. Of course that stinks, but I was curious if these user-names turned up anyplace else on a Google search. I just looked at this guy whose "other interests" would be pretty odd if they were true. Apparently they join several forums in the same day to sneak their links in.

This "guy's" link led to some kind of ticket brokers. Here's the forums this one fake guy joined this week. Besides Chumby:

Juicebox Support Forum
Bedrock Messageboard
Parrot Forum USA/Canada
Words4ever Famous Quotes
Bangladesh Premier Cricket League
Technopark Trivandrum Forum

(And those are just the ones Google indexed so far.)

Poor Duane trying to weed out these people. (I guess we all should be presumed innocent.) This fake guys' interests are so weird, he almost sounds like me. Too bad they never post, I can't imagine what they'd write. But I'm sure it's just some nasty program spitting this stuff out. The crazy robots really are taking over.

Re: Spammers' Hobbies

Yeah, that's user welchian978.

There's actually a pattern.

See if you can figure it out before I nuke the account.

Re: Spammers' Hobbies

Oooh! I know! I know!

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Re: Spammers' Hobbies

@ Doktor Jones- good observation. Yeah, I had noticed they were all powered by that program, but couldn't figure the significance. I looked at the PunBB website to see if they listed all their forums, because that would be easy pickings. But it seems like they just maintain this free open-source forum program. I figured it was just a widely used program, but there must be more to it. I guess their must be a list of their users someplace. But this one spammer does stick to PunBB sites, with the exact same "m/o." They all have no posts, but many have a commercial link in their profile. (Many forums don't allow info like that to be shown.)

The one I spotted earlier was "eiruingomez" who joined on June 11. His profile email linked to a web hosting company. The same day "he" also joined:
TC Electronic Forum
Plupload Forum
AiroDump Forums
The Joyent Community
BeLight Software Forum

Yes Doktor Jones, all also used PunBB. But a lot of these forums don't publish members' websites. I read an article that sometimes they just make "sleeper" members to use as spammers after they've been there a while to seem more credible. This is a lot smarter then the one who get banned the first day.

Whatever the pattern is, similar stuff has been noted by others. It might be because we have easy membership signup, no CAPTCHA tests to type the disguised letters, or otherwise discourage robots. Here's a couple things I read last night- … -spam.html

That one's general, but the following one deals with a crackdown on phony members. They were overwhelmed with them. Interesting though, they're *not* a PunBB user.

If it looks like we're getting someplace with this, I'll check some of our other recently new members. I never realized that we could click on "User List" and sort by date joined.

Re: Spammers' Hobbies

We do have a CAPTCHA implemented, but it's just a real simple "enter the letters" one that probably isn't too difficult for bots to crack, and really easy for third-world spam farms to crack:

I'm looking into a text-based captcha that asks simple questions that anyone with a rudimentary grasp of English should be able to answer, while being entirely non-obvious to a bot or non-English-speaker.  I realize we have forum-goers for whom English is not their native language, but since the entire forum is in English, I can't see why a real non-English-speaking user would be interested in registering here.

Also, Duane and I do comb through the user list (as well as the pending registrations that have not completed their e-mail validation phase) periodically, and weed out obvious spammers.  My degree of enforcement on these does vary though, depending on how much time I have to spend checking them out.  Usually I just check them against, and if they aren't in there, I leave them alone.

6 (edited by bobsz 2012-06-23 15:33:04)

Re: Spammers' Hobbies

@Doktor Jones- Your observation about the PunBB connection seems to be more significant every time I read something. I quoted an article above from a forum that I said *did not* use PunBB. Well, I was wrong. I re-read it and they are a user of the same program. Looks like you hit the nail right on the head about that connection. Sorry for my mistake about our not having a captcha. I shouldn't just leave things like that up to my memory.

Good point about our captcha system. Too bad we're figuring this stuff out so late in the game. It seems most of us still posting now can recognize each other by name. But I'm sure anything we can figure out would be a help to the less-tech sites, like the Butterfly Forum! BTW, you probably know this, but PunnBB has a user forum. It's weird how the forum looks almost exactly like ours.

I wonder if Duane saw yet another "pattern" with the spammers.