Investigative team Sadbottrue has own technologies for data gathering and for meta-analysis of big data. We focused on findings and explanation of anomalies that influence on the tech companies. We are fighting against the social media and advertising fraud ecosystem.
Chapter 26. The fraud patriot.
The true story
During the investigation of a crook, known as Trump_Campaign or Marius Landman, we mentioned account @TrumpNewsNetwrk as an affiliate with him. A couple of weeks later we received a letter from Anthony Sgroi, who claimed that he was the owner of the account and, he is an independent Trump supporter and, he has nothing to do with fraud.We made a new investigation, which found that Anthony Sgro's his real name, and he really works in the police Ridgefield Park, New Jersey and that he reallyassociatedwith a group of fraudsters operating in the election campaign.
@TrumpNewsNetwrk stopped its activity in June. Both accounts of Marius Landman @Trump_Videos and @campaign_Trump were suspended on June 6. His personal account @MariusLandman was deleted by himself after the investigation, where we showed he affiliated with political botnets of different candidates of both parties.
Now we can figure out what fraud techniques they use to make money, and why they needed to participate actively in the election campaign. The main question was: “Why policeman from New Jersey registered Trump News Network account, not the Cops for Trump, or New Jersey for Trump, or the American Italians for Trump?”
He never worked in media, he had no experience as a journalist, except the photographer for the local newspaper, and then he suddenly created an account, which posted a lot links to articles about Trump, which retweeted by members of 20K Trump Twitter club, and increasing its audience. For 8 months he posted links to 150 different resources. About 50 of them are major known media, social networks, well known blogs. But the remaining 100 sites are not known to the public? As he found them and why these sites and not others?
We believe, that Anthony not acted independently. Someone told him to create an account, helped simulate the 15,000 followers, using the high-quality political bots. He also received the content, that should be distributed to several hundred of real people among his followers. Many of these sites are very strange. Despite the conservative political orientation, many of them have too much advertising. So much, that the link to one of the sites caused the accusations of affiliation with the site owner.
The archive tweets with the link to madpatriots.com
The site madpatriots.com registered in April 2013 by webmaster Ernie Simons, El Paso, Texas. He also created another 77 domains. The list of all domains.
Who is Ernie Simons?
We have checked 77 domains and found 3 active sites with high traffic. There are another 4 sites which are clones of MadPatriots with the same content and ad systems, but without the audience.
The active clones.
www.Madpatriots.com created in April 2013, switched “domain by proxy” june2015.
www.trumpinsurrection.com created in January 2016.
www.nutbarfactor.com created in June 2015.
www.viralbananas.com created in March 2015.
The inactive clones you can find in the appendix.
Viraltater.com created on March 2015 has same content with www.madpatriot.com, it is obvious clone site.
All articles on the sites are rewritten unoriginal content from other sites. There are 3~6 google advertising units and 1~3 recommendation systems on each site. Each site has unstable traffic from 2,000 to 20,000 page views daily. All sites generate more than 20,000 page views per day, and more than 55,000 adviews. The number of clicks that generate websites is unknown to us, so we can not accurately estimate the income of a set of these sites.
What is the main purpose of those sites? Is it actually a political campaign or making money on advertising and traffic reselling?
The election campaign is an excellent cover for digital fraud. Few people dare to accuse of using black SEO optimization and bot traffic, which supports one of the most popular candidates. In addition, it is an excellent explanation for the advertising and recommendation systems, if there are suspicions of poor quality traffic. Trump supporters live in every state, so they can come from any IP.
Some of ad systems are installed, but not displayed. But content recommendations for some reasons are doubled and even tripled.
www.Madpatriots.com 11 000 pageviews per day, сreated on December 27, 2014.
www.nutbarfactor.com/ 3 000, pageviews per day, сreated on June 18, 2015.
Trumpinsurrection.com 8 000 pageviews per day, сreated on January 15, 2016.
Mr. Simons created the first domain before the 2016 race, he had chosen a neutral name, suitable for all of the possible Republican candidates. Among the followers of twitter account, you can find both pro-Trump and pro-Cruz bots.
All sites have no permanent traffic, page views can increase or decrease for several times. For example, Nutbarfactor.com has 9 000, pageviews per day on February. From what countries came traffic to Mad Patriots?According toEasycounter.com, there are 2.7% of traffic from Kenya.
How can it be 2.7% of traffic from Kenya? It's 250 daily users. And why this traffic wasn’t from other African countries? Is there anything we don’t know about Kenya? It seems the owner of a site instead of expensive traffic from the United States bought a cheap bot traffic through African proxies. We just have no other explanation of it.
Twitter account @realmadpatriots is a simple bot posting links. There are some other matpatriot.com link-poster accounts. From theinvestigation, we know that up to 2010, Marius Landman was selling semi-legal SEO services. The main business of semi-legal SEO is producing fake media for cheating AdSense and other ad systems with the bot-clicking software. Two critical conditions are needed for the successful ad fraud.
The first one is traffic laundering. That is the answer to the question: “Why your site is so popular?”. This is a pack of techniques for creating the real visitors, that hides artificial visitors, generated by software. There are SEO, content recommendation and the social media traffic laundering.
The second one is validation of clicks and impressions. The most powerful technique is the reputation: old and famous domain, millions of followers in social media, or relations with political campaigns. Just imagine how will react pro-trump or other political trolls, if Google will ban the site with agitation because software generated advertising clicks.
The sad questions
1. Why web designer Ernie Simons, who earlier created viral content sites, switched to political content before the 2016 Race?
2. Are pro-Trump officials know about those sites or it is the initiative of Ernie Simons?
3. Why there are a lot of irrelevant advertising on the political sites?
4. What is the main purpose of the pack of these sites, pro-Trump agitation or advertising cheating?
5. Did Ernie Simons pay @TrumpNewsNetwrk (Anthony Sgroi) for promo or whether had he some kind of arrangement for posting links in twitter across Trump 20K twitter club accounts?