Paper: Trust Us and Our Business Expands! How Net-activists Take Down Fraudulent Business Websites

Title: Trust Us and Our Business Expands! How Net-activists Take Down Fraudulent Business Websites
Author(s): Andreas Zingerle
Email: andreas.zingerle (at)

Published at: xCoAx conference 2016, Bergamo, Italy.


Internet criminals create fake websites that mimic real websites and use them for advance fee fraud or other criminal activities. Over the last ten years members of the vigilante scambaiting community ‘Artists against 419’ maintain the biggest open-access database of fake websites. They use ‘passive reconnaissance’ and ‘open source intelligence’ (osit) tools to gather information to file reports with the hosting provider to get the websites taken off the web. This chapter takes a closer look at the group’s strategies and explains the artistic research installation called ‘Megacorp.’ that visualises a sample probe of 1000 websites from the database collection.

Keywords: Fraud, scambaiting, anti-fraud activism, open source intelligence.


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