Going Viral: Spam Link Exploits Gamers

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Someone, somewhere has decided to make a lot of money and apparently use gamers to achieve that goal. How are they doing this? Well, the last couple of days a certain weblink has been appearing on numerous gaming websites and forums.

emil1.jpg
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"Rumour has it "Sexy" Emilie is being cast as a fifth character replacing one who will die for new downloadable content already planned for 2009! Her site even has a story on it!

sexyemilie.com"


There are two strange things about this spam. The first is that it's not the usual "Click here for pills" spambot speak - it's relevant to the forum it's been posted to, a real live person has sat down and typed it out. The second is that it isn't "one post and you're banned" spam accounts posting the link - in most cases, it's people who have been on their respective forums for some time (the person posting above is on the official XBox forums, and has a high gamerscore and reputation).

The accounts haven't been hacked - people are willingly posting this link up. Each time the link is posted, people are attaching an affiliate link which is even more suspicious. Visit the site, and we see some rather clever tactics being employed. At first, it looks like any other "Check out these pictures of my ex-girlfriend" porn website:

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However, scroll down and you see eight of these boxes:

emil3.jpg
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And this, which gives the game away:

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If you want to "see more", you have to send the link to as many people as possible. According to the text, more pictures will be unlocked as people click your link to reach the page - however, this is where it all starts to fall apart. It doesn't matter how many times you click the link from any of the sites it's been posted to - the counter that tells you "how many of your friends already clicked the link" always said zero for us when testing. Regardless of what the page says, you can hit F5 as many times as you like and it never goes up.

Despite this, there's a counter at the bottom of the page that says the number of people who've been there today is "204,781".

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Over two hundred thousand people have been there, and not one person has arrived via these spammy affiliate links? Does that sound plausible?

Of course not. The gimmick is that the creator of the site is hoping people don't want to wait for pictures that will likely never actually reveal themselves (they certainly won't when the counter registering clicks doesn't seem to work), and phone up a $2.50 1-900 number to get a "special access pass".

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Interestingly, when we visited the page via a proxy, we were randomly presented with a page displaying all ten images - presumably this is the page shown to the user if they're willing to phone and pay up.

Also of note is the following:

"Hot tip:  If you use ICQ, MSN, AIM, and other instant messengers to send your personal link to your friends, you will have the video in no time!"

If you see this site sent to you via a friend on Instant Messaging, don't worry - they haven't been hacked, they've just been convinced that sending this URL to all their friends is a good idea. The reality is that someone, somewhere decided to exploit gamers to go spread this link virally, and they're practically falling over themselves to promote it.

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The site is now inevitably starting to move away from gaming sites and into other areas -
it's being posted to everything from Yahoo Answers ("Can you please tell me what sexyemilie.com is? my friend keeps telling me to go there but I don't what what it is, even though I have an idea") to Twitter (note the person who posted it there is a gamer too).

People will try to justify posting it:

emil8.jpg

...sadly, they're missing the point. People don't find the website "offensive" because they lack a sense of humour; they find it offensive because gamers are silly enough to keep posting it while making someone a lot of money at the same time. At this point, we're not sure how they convinced a whole bunch of gamers to start posting this link everywhere - but it definitely seems like a tactic that's paying off...

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Christopher Boyd published on December 1, 2008 8:44 AM.

More MSN Login Harvesting... was the previous entry in this blog.

More On That "Viral Spam Link"... is the next entry in this blog.

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