back to article 700,000 beautiful women do the bidding of one Twitter-scamming man

Satnam Narang of Symantec says one scammer was so taken with Twitter he established 750,000 accounts. The senior security response manager found the one man spam plague set up the mind boggling number of Twitter accounts he calls 'mockingbirds' to flog Green Coffee Bean Extract earning cash for visitors referrals. Narang said …

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How about an easier solution

Just do not trust anything posted on tw*tter in the first place. And do not use it. It is the first application I get rid of on a new smartphone (even if I have to root it to do so). The second is f***book.

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Pint

diet pills

Reminds me of a thing called herbalife which works in the same way, but uses social engineering to bind actual humans to the "mockingbird" and "parrot" roles.

I think I need a healthy drink rich in vitamins and carbs.

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Re: diet pills

Herbalife is an MLM that sells supplements. It means members have set up thousands of virtually identical sites selling essentially the same horribly overpriced products, and frequently shill these wares and suppress criticism of them. I would not be surprised ifthem probably take it up a notch and spam too.

Herbalife isn't exactly an innocent in all this. It has a long history of legal brushes with the law and comparisons to pyramid schemes. The difference being how much money a person makes from selling product to actual end customers as opposed to how much they make from recruiting their own downline (and cajoling them to buy their own product).

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Re: diet pills

Herbalife is alive and well, check out Gumtree. I quit advertising on there because it was waist deep in Herbalife spam; and not just Herbalife, either, GCBE, green tea, raspberry ketones, algae that allegedly expands in your stomach, so you're able to subsist on nowt but water, chilli extract…

The folk selling these things - and the people to whom they're peddling - aren't, exactly, how to put this tactfully, well they're the kind of people who are easily impressed by long sciencey words (coz, well, coz SCIENCE) and a favourite con trick is calling caffeine trimethylxanthine and referring to any herbs by their scientific names, blind the gullible with sciencese, and they're more likely to pony up - and pony up far more.

Herbalife is a pyramid scheme, pedlars get a bonus for every sap they recruit, hence the reason it's been so hard to kill (I'm assuming you're over here - I get lost with who's where, can't keep up - as I believe that it's been outlawed in the US, at least in some states, though I could be quite wrong about that).

Gumtree simply wasn't interested in enforcing its own Ts&Cs, so I quit.

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Amazing

Assuming the guy took a day off once in a while and slept at night, it seems to me that he'd have to set up one account every 20 seconds or so if he was to get to 750,000 in a year. Did he use a script?

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Re: Amazing

I'd have to say "scripts"... multiple given what he/they were doing. It appears that over 1,000,000 accounts were created as replacement accounts were needed for those suspended. The pdf is fascinating reading on this..

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g e

Ahhh Twitter...

"288 million active monthly accounts"

287 million active monthly accounts. FTFY.

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Pint

Re: Ahhh Twitter...

Does that mean that once you clear out all the scam accounts Twitter is left with one real user, namely Stephen Fry?

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Happy

Re: Ahhh Twitter...

Does that mean that once you clear out all the scam accounts Twitter is left with one real user, namely Stephen Fry?

There is also the 5 Journalists paid to follow him

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Re: Ahhh Twitter...

"There is also the 5 Journalists paid to follow him"

Who are all called Stephen Fry

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Headmaster

Agree, but ...

> "At the end of the day, weight loss requires more than just a dietary supplement."

Broadly true, but what if the "supplement" was a diarrhetic and/or an emetic?

(Not that I would choose to shit and/or vomit my way to weight loss.)

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Re: Agree, but ...

Not that I would choose to shit and/or vomit my way to weight loss

Otherwise known as "the night on the piss and a vindaloo diet"

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Happy

Re: Agree, but ...

I prefer the raw chicken diet. Just eat one raw chicken breast a day, and the weight will fall off you...

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(...)or the fact that so many people in the world, (not just via this particular scam), continue to believe that there exist, 'magic' pills, potions or extracts to loose weight.

But people are lazy. And Stupid. Often stupid because they are lazy. Laziness is an inate human trait and we wouldn't be where we are now without putting so much effort into making things easier for ourselves.

Look at how many half-respectable websites have a panel with spam shit on every page. The ones listing "you wouldn't believe what happened next in these 12 amazing pictures": photoshopped tatt for anybody with a clue or "online companies hate you knowing this trick to buying iPads": preying on the greedy and desperate or "doctors hate this miracle diet pill" (with appalling mis-matched "before" and "after" shots): seeking the lazy and gullible. And this shit is repeated time and time again, everywhere - slowly reinforcing validity through repetition which is a key factor in brain washing and certain established organisation types.

There genuinely are some medical products that can drastically help with weight loss. However these have usually been found to have rather unpleasant side effects often centred around or involving serious malnutrition buy often others as well. Not even the corporate controlled drug testing processes have permitted these drugs through to market given how dangerous they are. There are some very clever investigations underway that are looking at slight twists on the theme but from what I understand, even these are quite a few years away from even approaching clinical testing - one of the complexities is that our digestive systems are pretty much unique to each individual given genetic, lifestyle, age and sex differences and the widely varying makeup of bacteria that inhabit our guts and that are critical to digestion.

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@1980s_coder I've up-voted you, because you're intentions were admirable…

…if completely misguided. I don't know where you are but, as El Reg is in Blighty, I'll assume you are, too (yeah I know it's in the U.S. and Oz now too, but it'll always be Blightian to me!).

It's not your fault, you've been brainwashed to believe that the way to lose flab (assuming that was your aim, and I'll presume it was) is the old cals in < cals out BS. There's just one problem: a calorie isn't a calorie, not all calories are created equal, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics does NOT apply to human beans. Yes, 'tis true that, on yer plate, all cals are equal but, once you've consumed 'em, that's no longer the case. Shoving a load of grains down yer gizzard is the ABSOLUTE WORST thing you could ever POSSIBLY do if you desire to take your belt in a hole (or three).

Let me endeavour to explain (apologies if this gets a bit muddled, I'm not good at explaining stuff, I'm autistic). Every species has a dietary blueprint, laid down by evolution and genetics - lions eat zebra, penguins eat fish, polar bears eat seals, cows eat grass, and so on and so forth. We are 'programmed' to derive the most nutrition, and be healthiest on a certain kind of diet and, for us Homo sapiens, that's what I term carni-omnivorous, in other words, whilst we need SOME plant matter, we need more animal foods, a ratio of around 80:20 is about right.

Grains are a VERY poor source of nutrients for people, because, well we can't digest 'em, we have the guts of carnivores (carnivorous dentition, short guts, and bile. We also produce cholesterol because it's essential for life, as is saturated fat). A diet high in grains and starches is a recipe for poor health, they're Neolithic and our bodies can't digest 'em properly (if at all; without being too graphic, think what happens after you've eaten sweetcorn). The other argument in the case against grains is coeliac disease; we're all the same species and, even if you don't react so violently to gluten, you're still the same species as someone who does so, if it's not good for THEM, why would it be good for you…?

There's absolutely NO REASON for anyone to be obese; obesity is a severe food intolerance, an intolerance to eating the incorrect diet for your species. How many times have you attempted to lose weight the NHS way…? If a LFHC calorie-restricted diet was the answer, then why is the UK at its fattest, despite the average fat intake being at a record low…?

I'm not just speaking out my arse, either, I was 24 stone, and diabetic (type II diabetes has NOTHING to do with obesity, by the way, but I'll save that topic for another day; I could have weighed 8st and STILL been diabetic). I was given the usual LFHC cal restricted diet, and chronic cardio exercise plan, which I followed religiously - the result…? I lost 2st, then GAINED 8! Of course it was MY fault, mustn't blame the diet, the diet is PERFECT.

Most people won't be willing to take the risks I did, but I switched from a LFHC diet to a, yep, LCHF palaeo diet. To cut this short, I dropped from 30 stone to 7.5 in just under 3 years. I now only eat foods that I can digest fully, I DON'T skimp on the saturated fat (in fact, most of the fat I eat IS saturated, mainly in the form of butter, lard, extra virgin coconut oil and red palm oil). Most - if not all - of the red meat I eat (and I eat A LOT) I eat RAW (it's 100% grass-fed, pastured and organic). If you want to maximise your nutrition, then I highly recommend it.

Alternatively, I recommend calves' liver, fried in lard, with as many lard-fried eggs as you can eat. That's more than your daily needs of every single nutrient, right there, in a form that's 100% bioavailable.

Hippocrates said "Disease begins in the gut", in other words, what you eat determines your state of health. There's a reason CHD is on the increase - statins, coupled with a LFHC diet cause CHD. I believe that the NHS is ruled by Big Pharma; all the studies and trials to which it refers aren't independent, they're run by the drug company whose product is being trialled.

This is why I'm so against this £1 a day thing, it encourages poor nutrition, as all cheap food tends to be Neolithic.

I won't write any more, because I get the feeling I've wasted the past hour writing as much as I have but, if you care to be educated (and I hope that you, and anyone else, cares enough to be so), here's my standard useful websites list:

Http://www.drmalcolmkendrick.org - no nonsense, straight-talking Scottish GP. Author of 'The Great Cholesterol Con' and 'Doctoring Data'

Http://www.dietdoctor.com - Swedish GP, advocating for better information on the benefits of a LCHF (palaeo) diet. Don't worry, it's in English!

Http://www.chriskresser.com

Http://www.cerealkillersmovie.com - learn why eating a diet high in grains will kill you. Seriously.

Http://www.29billion.com - $29bn is Big Pharma's annual profit from statins. This site is a link to a documentary called Statins: The Great Cholesterol Cover-Up.

Remember, just because the NHS TELLS you something is true, doesn't make it true - in fact, the more the NHS insists something is true, the more likely that it ain't.

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Re: @1980s_coder I've up-voted you, because you're intentions were admirable…

Actually my ex-wife thought the same as yourself, and ended up with 28 days compulsory stay in the psych ward.

My advise stick to the previous post that nutrition is complex, fascinating and do your own research. But don't proselytize your own food 'religion'.

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Re: @1980s_coder I've up-voted you, because you're intentions were admirable…

So many wrong things, nearly as many Not Even Wrong things, and some outright falsehood to boot. Bad job, no donut for you!

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Re: @1980s_coder I've up-voted you, because you're intentions were admirable…

Gadzooks.

Whilst you got a result going from 30 stone to 7.5 that would have been achievable with pretty much any form of diet as to maintain 30 stone you have to eat a shed load of bad stuff and do very little.

Does Atkins work? Yes, high protien, high fat and low simple sugar will lead to weight loss. Bottom line, too much sugar will make you fat, beating a sugar craving has more impact on weight management than any other strategy and that is the basis of most of these types of diets.

Paleo diets are frankly a steaming pile of bollocks unless you are truly hunter gathering and moving and grazing all day, people in paleolithic times didnt eat the wonderous and varied things currently in the paleo diets you can find, they either walked, ran, killed, ate or slept. The fact you can find Paleo microwave bread speaks volumes, when was the last time you saw a cave painting of a microwave oven?

Your theory on coeliac disease falls down if you compare it to something like allergies to pollen, we all have the same systems for respiration but not all of us have issues with pollen, gluten is no different in that respect. Eating loads of bread for example is going to impact your weight thanks to its glycemic index and impact on insulin response rather than its gluten content and any intolerance.

Dietary cholesterol intake doesnt impact blood cholesterol levels, what does is high levels of body fat, which require higher levels of oestrogen to maintain the fat cells which in turn is manufactured from cholesterol, hence why people with high levels of body fat typically have higher levels of cholesterol. Endurance exercise will increase High density lipoprotien cholesterol which is "good" and if you can get the ratio higher then you can have a high total value and not carry a significant health risk .

Bottom line, eat less crap, eat less simple sugars, do some exercise.

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Re: @1980s_coder I've up-voted you, because you're intentions were admirable…

>Bottom line, eat less crap, eat less simple sugars, do some exercise.

+1

Eat real food, not "products" and do exercise. Plus, make sure you get enough sleep, which usually means less "screen time." I guess I'd better go now!

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Anonymous Coward

Start a religion, that way you can scam 100s of millions of people for centuries.

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Alien

L Ron Hubbard

Paid better than his Space Opera.

He just recycled his SF as Scientology

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to scam people for centuries

surely you need to be around for those centuries? I can see no fun or profit in posthumous scamming.

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Re: to scam people for centuries

surely you need to be around for those centuries? I can see no fun or profit in posthumous scamming.
Hence the need for an after-life.

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Start a religion

I wonder which religion your downvoter follows?

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Re: to scam people for centuries

@ Gordon 11

Excellent :)

have an upvote

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Start a religion

@ Rich 11,

The holy order of advanced spoon benders, they absolutely hate me after I denounced spoons in favour of forks.

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of course

Twitter is not interested in actually getting rid of these scams as it all adds up for the mythical unique user count they use to pump up the "value" of the "product"

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"consume fewer calories than you expend in exercise" -- 1980s_coder

YMMV but I find even this is not necessarily true. Whenever I start exercising properly it makes me eat - vastly more than the calories I expend, but I still lose weight. I must have eaten 750kcal of honey on toast yesterday, for instance, after expending probably what, about 2/3 of that in the gym?

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Anonymous Coward

Because by exercising, your body in getting toned works more efficiently and burns more calories at rest, too.

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"Because by exercising, your body in getting toned works more efficiently and burns more calories at rest, too."

A machine that is working more efficiently uses less power so I wouldn't call using more calories more efficient. If anything its less efficient. Perhaps its burning more calories trying to keep your body temperature regulated becuase you excercised away the layer of fat that was keeping you warm?

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300kcal a day

some colleagues of mine who worked in the antarctic would easily consume that when working outside.

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Headmaster

Because by exercising, your body in getting toned works more efficiently and burns more calories at rest, too.

So by working more efficiently, it uses more fuel? Are we using a special meaning of the word "efficient"?

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Anonymous Coward

When the object is to burn more calories, doing that with less 'pain' is more efficient. FFS.

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Be fair

If it wasn't for the gullible most of the internet wouldn't be financially viable.

Think of it as a mug tax. Install the usual blockers and enjoy it for free.

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Sadly the internet is filled with this crap

There are a number of MLMs (barely legal pyramid schemes) and food supplement spammers who peddle crap like African mango, mangosteen, acai berries, raspberry ketone, green coffee etc.

They have no qualms about lying about the efficacy of this stuff (zero), or it its health benefits (zero) because there is a rich seam of gullible and desperate people who'll buy it at vastly inflated prices. It's rich pickings. Some people really do think that eating a few pills of dust cancels out cakes and biscuits.

It doesn't help that the US food and drug administration is emasculated - supplements have to be proven to cause harm, rather than proven to do good which means snake oil and quackery rules the day. As long as producers don't claim their products cure cancer or some other tangible illness they can slather all kinds of vague beneficial claims over their products and website and they don't have prove any of them.

The most depressing part about all of the above is that even "trusted" retailers like Walgreens, Amazon, Walmart, CVS are in on the act and peddle this shit and even own brand versions. Visiting a US pharmacy is thoroughly depressing.

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Re: Sadly the internet is filled with this crap

I've never heard of any of them. Perhaps you're frequenting the wrong sites?

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Effective?

"The tactic using obviously fake profiles with avatars of attractive women to score reciprocal follows is sadly "remarkably effective", Narang says."

Sure, it's effective at getting people to click the "follow" button, but is it actually effective at doing anything more than that? Studies have shown over and over again that getting followers on Twitter, likes on Facebook, and other similar crap, does not actually translate to getting customers, or even improving brand awareness. Clicking a "like" button costs people essentially nothing, so they're happy to do it even if they have no intention of ever doing more than that. Sure, this spammer managed to get people to follow pretend accounts with attractive pictures, but is there any evidence those followers actually signed up to anything and made him money?

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Re: Effective?

I don't remember the numbers, but I once saw the statistics regarding the amount of spam mails sent vs. the amount of responses(for products like Viagra etc.) Even though the percentage of actual buyers was vanishingly small, (in the range of 0.00000 something) there was still money to be made thanks to the huge amount of spam mail sent.

It is the old 99 Slaps Principal as explained to me by a former co-worker. If your approach to women gets you laid once but your face slapped 99 times out of 100, you can approach 100 women a year and get laid once a year, or you can approach 100 women a night and get laid every night. Whether it is sex or sales, slaps be damned, persistence pays off. Every door to door salesman, phone solicitor, ad man, politician, Comcast phone responder, religious proselytizer, and Girl Scout cookie pusher knows this, and so should you.

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Re: Effective?

Have an upvote for reminding me of the 99 Slaps Principle. Sales Droids and Con Artists (think all those phone calls about virus in your computer, etc.) know this very well.

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Re: Effective?

The thing is, this is exactly the problem Twitter and the like have - they keep adhering to the 99 slaps principle, but it's not actually applicable to them. If you send out a bunch of spam and only get a couple of replies, that's a couple of replies you can make a profit off. If you send out a bunch of spam twats and get a couple of people to click "follow", you still haven't actually done anything useful - those people will forget they ever clicked that button within a couple of minutes, and any posts that happen to turn up in their feeds will be just one more tiny drop in the sea of spam they see every day. This is why Twitter has still never made a profit and why studies keep showing that merely getting "likes" and "follows" does not actually translate to improved sales.

The trouble is basically that success of marketing is generally judged by engagement with customers. Traditionally, that means customers actually visiting your store (or whatever), with a certain proportion of those going on to buy something. Hence pay-per-click advertising and the like. But once you add Twitter and Facebook into the mix, the only engagement measured is how many people click the "like" button. It's assumed that a certain proportion of those will then buy something in the same way as if they'd actually followed a link to a shop, but the problem is that there's no evidence that actually happens. People who visit a shop might wander around and buy something, but people who click "like" just forget about it two minutes later. People who visit a shop might click "like", but there's no evidence people who click "like" are any more likely to visit your shop than those who don't.

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Coat

"[Narang] reminds punters that there's no such thing as a free lunch"

Which is unfortunate for all those concerned. Although I have heard that anything you eat standing up doesn't count.

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'tis just a drop in the ocean

When I dipped my toe into the Blackhat side of internet marketing I uncovered just how massive this way of scamming/spamming is. Indeed there's dozens of bot programs which can create thousands of accounts a minute on most major websites and then automatically schedule and post to those accounts, SENuke and Scrapebox being the most popular.

They're fire and forget - this guy didn't have to do much account creation. I would imagine the bulk of his work was in the wording of his tweets but even then those aformentioned programs can 'spin' the comments so they are unique all the time.

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My first ever post...

and I thoroughly recommended bythisshite dot com.

Cures piles and even gets you a husband,

The guarantee is that is it fails you can then buy a crystal rock for only 50 bucks.

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Re: FWD: Fwd: Re: IMPORTANT: Re: My first ever post...

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Happy

Re: My first ever post...

Cures piles and even gets you a husband,

I signed up, my piles turned to solid gold, and now I'm married to a man called John.

Admittedly I wanted to marry a woman, but you can't have everything...

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Re: My first ever post...

Neither can John, who now has piles.

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Re: My first ever post...

"Neither can John, who now has piles."

Are you inferring that Spartacus was a pain in the arse?

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