Anatomy of a scam

A new report from Microsoft (didn’t know they did these kinds of interesting reports) and UC Davis outlines the ways in which web spammers are operationally organized (NYT had a review on the report as well). Its an interesting albeit a somewhat dense read…I have summarized the main points from the report in the pictures below:

scam.png

This chart talks about the basic structure of the scam…But the chart below (taken from the report) brings out some astonishing things about how well organized it all is. More then 80% of all these click-thrus are funneled through two of IP ranges apparently owned by the domain owners. Another surprising thing about it the appearance of a number of familiar brands like Shopping.com, Looksmart, Orbitz etc. at different stages of the money chain. Also the report points to BlogSpot and a few other popular web hosts which are very popular with the spammers…Apparently 75% of the BlogSpots that show up in the search results are because of the spammers. This is a serious issue which Google should do something about (makes you kinda scratch your head as to why Google doesn’t do anything about it, could it be the AdSense money they get???)

structure.png

The fact that the whole thing is so organized means that it should be easy to go after for search companies…Doing this will rid the Internet of a lot of crappy content and thereby improve the browsing experience and CPMs for everybody else.

( Yi-Min Wang of Microsoft – Pic via NYT)

See some of screenshots related to the analysis in the report here.

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