Police and army troops in Thailand has raided a massive click-fraud farm, the agents have seized nearly half a million SIM cards and hundreds of iPhones used to promote products online.
The authorities have raided to rented houses in Ban Mai Nong Sai in the Aranyaprathet District arresting three Chinese people, Wang Dong, 33, Niu Bang, 25, and Ni Wenjin, 32.
Tha amount of goods seized by the police is amazing, troop seized 474 5s, 5c and 4s iPhones and 347,200 SIM cards, as well as many electronic devices and computers.
The information obtained in the first raid allowed investigators to make a second raid that resulted in the seizure of another 100,000 SIM cards in a local house.
In the first home, the police found 112,200 SIM cards from Advanced Info Service, 131,000 from True Move and 104,000 from Total Access Communication (DTAC) telco companies.
“Police are investigating how almost half a million unused Thai SIM cards got into the hands of three Chinese people allegedly operating in Thailand the business of generating fake page views and engagement online” states the Bangkokpost. “Police found about 100,000 SIM cards, many computers and other electronic equipment at a shophouse in Ratchata Withi Road in Muang Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo Monday afternoon. They searched the place following the statement of the three men arrested in the northeastern province on Sunday, allegedly for operating an illicit business.”
According to Benjaphol Rodsawasdi, immigration chief of Sa Kaeo, the three suspects admitted they were being paid 150,000 baht (US$4,423/£3,473) a month by a company in China to promote products in the Middle Kingdom, they didn’t reveal the name of the business.
They were tasked to ramp up sellers’ online ratings by giving them positive feedback on product listings. With this technique, they were able to increase the reputation of the sellers and gear up search result rankings, with a significant effect on the sales.
The suspects were hired to spam the Chinese social media platform WeChat with bogus page views, ratings, likes and shares.
The choice of the Thailand is not casual, over there mobile charges are very low compared to other countries, including China.
It is still unclear how the men have obtained a so large number of SIM cards without raising suspicion of telco companies.
The authorities are still investigating searching for other click farms established in the country.
The suspects were charged with working illegally Thailand and illegitimately importing the electronic devices.
Similar techniques are also used by threat actors in the wild to pump out fake news in disinformation campaigns.
(Security Affairs – cybercrime, click farms)