Apr 24, 2017

Romanian spammer bombarding Twitter with fake 'bot' accounts

BYPankaj Mishra

Have you ever come across unidentified followers on your Twitter account? These might look legitimate but are actually fake. If reports are to be believed, a Romanian spammer is behind most such ‘bot’ accounts.
These fake accounts post spam like links to dating sites and even propaganda. The spamming has been steadily getting worse, but Twitter website doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it.
According to a report in ZDNet late on Sunday, these ‘bots’ were created by Romanian spammer Laurentiu Ciocoiu within the space of an hour or so with the same pattern of username. They direct twitter users to half-baked dating sites that ask for money to sign up.
Ciocoiu started this earlier this year with his most recent campaign — setting up a complicated network of thousands of fake Twitter accounts that would almost always follow the same pattern.
“Each account would follow a few dozen legitimate accounts — such as high-profile, verified news publications and celebrities that are presented when the user first opens a Twitter account — and then fake accounts would follow other fake accounts,” the report said.
Then, the fake accounts would post a single tweet — a link to a page that promises to show nude photos.
“The page would direct the hapless clicker to a random third-party website (also owned by Ciocoiu), who pay him to generate clicks and sign-ups to those sites, which more often scream of illegitimacy and fakery,” the report added.
After investigation, it was found that one of the campaigns on Ciocoiu’s books includes several websites owned by Nautell Capital and Tralox Overseas — two companies based in Cyprus that were founded on the same day and share the same accountant.
Both firms own hundreds of domains each, hosting pop-up dating sites designed to appeal to almost every possible kink imaginable.
The report pointed out that Ciocoiu is just one of thousands of spammers and abusers of the system.

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.