Uncovering and blacklisting a massive spammer with over 50 accounts

in spam •  8 months ago

I have been spending a lot of time researching and blacklisting abusers of @buildawhale and have been blacklisting 20-50+ a day.

I noticed some patterns of a few bidders for @buildawhale and decided to do some digging last night. After about 4 hours or so, I ended up uncovering 51 accounts owned by this one spammer. Every time I thought I found the end of the trail, two more would lead me deeper.

giphy (1).gif

There are two main accounts run by the spammer:

  • nuoviso
  • ophelion

The majority of the accounts funnel into ophelion, but some funnel to nuoviso. Some of the oldest accounts were created in August 2017, and some as far back as June 2017. Some of these old accounts were flagged to 0 a long time ago. Most of the newer accounts are still going in full force and abusing most of the bots on the platform.

Most of the accounts are just fake vote bots that vote for his other accounts and spams posts every 2 hours. Some of his vote bots are listed on @yabapmatt's Steem Bot Tracker site.

  • randofish
  • votebuster
  • steemvote

The rest are not listed and are used to vote other accounts up while masquerading as a public service. The ones listed also primarily vote each other up.

After digging through all the accounts, I came up with 51 total owned by Nuoviso/Ophelion. Most of them pretend to be a vote bot/promotion service of some sort but just vote each other. A few of them pretend to be a regular Steem account posting regular "content".

Most of them are using small bids on voting bots to promote their posts, small enough it doesn't get noticed but still generates $2-$6 in post rewards many times a day across many accounts.



Some accounts are only a couple days old, so he is still creating accounts. It looks like they are mostly automated.

He also ran "free giveaway" accounts which primarily rewarded his accounts.

Here is the full list of accounts, they will be provided to all vote bot owners so they can blacklist him as well.

  • nuoviso
  • ophelion
  • steemcollector
  • secrettv
  • kittentown
  • prepper
  • kidstv
  • provote
  • astrotv
  • neuehorizonte
  • topzehn
  • wissenschaft
  • politik
  • randofish
  • howtodo
  • mybooster
  • steinzeit
  • cookingstar
  • infokrieg
  • cropcircles
  • news24
  • matzep
  • querdenken
  • whalewatch
  • whalo
  • randofish1
  • filme
  • votebuster
  • getvotes
  • newsfront
  • cashbidbot
  • up-me
  • blockbooster
  • pushmeup
  • postpromo
  • myupvote
  • votex
  • steemboter
  • voteboter
  • cashbot
  • freeupvote
  • steembeamer
  • myup
  • pingpong
  • steemtools
  • steemwin
  • appreciato
  • minnowsteemwin
  • umpe
  • upvoteforfree
  • steemvote

The full list can also be found here

themarkymark.png

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Nice! I actually found some of these accounts the other day and made a post.

I dubbed the actions the bid bot circle jerk haha.

Thanks for doing the work to really uncover the whole cluster!!!

keep up the good work

i caught on to whalo and randofish a few days ago too. I am glad you caught it and did something about it. Good on you!

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Yeah, I also saw these accounts about a week or so ago. When I found randofish, I have to admit I liked the logo. :) But I quickly realized they were up to no good. Thanks again @themarkymark!

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He basically paid someone from fiverr to clone randowhale

@themarkymark I wish we can get rid of all bots. They always use the same stupid comment.

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Great post. UPVOTED!

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It was a joke ;)

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There was a bot meeting earlier.
They said a similar thing.

"I wish we could automate everything on steemit and have no human factor. Wish the money train no longer stopped at ANY little shitty town that isn't worth the value of the discarded chewed tobacco on the bottom of my boots"

One program stood up and said... "In time. It's in motion"

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ROFL - This should be awarded comment of the day @teknow

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Hey @theinsideout you have a keen eye!
I like your name too. Like a riddle.

Solve this riddle:

It is what it is.
It's always something.
If nothing else. It's still a thing.
If it's not, what is it then?

Hint: It might not really be a riddle. Just dribble. Haha!

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I can't solve your riddle, so I guess I'll go to the fridge and take out a beer.

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EXACTLY! It was yeast.

It can go foul or it can grow wonders.

You're good.

Take care and I follow you now.
Because YES!! My dreams are like a damn script.
I see my future events all the time. Good to find you here.
All the best with future posts, I'll be sure to support.

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Why don't you tell me what my future post will be. I've got writer's block. :)

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Haha!

I got it.

"Childhood Innocence - The Future Of Us"

You talked of your twins in the dream post. That would give you much to observe and write on. I believe that this is a good topic for you. If not told in a broader sense then simply through your eyes and their experiences. There is a recent post which touched on this so possibly steemit will benefit from more writters exploring the topic.
See this: https://steemit.com/poetry/@iyanpol12/child-s-innocence-short-poetry

The Future Of Us, depends on you if you wish to explore that also. As children ARE our future you could elaborate on what either the world we are creating means for them, as essentially, kids at a very young age are all partaking in this connected world of devices and sharing of experiences. IMO, their age of innocence is no longer that blissful childhood era which went right through to adolescence. This imo, has as immense impact on future children and on our species as a whole.

Or just continue to explore dreaming. That is also a good topic to touch on in multiple posts.

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Do you dream of electric sheep?

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LOL, No but I would like to. I really like that project. It's like an acid trip!

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This is the best conversation on Steemit so far. Followed all of you.

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Nuovisio is almost certainly either German, Swiss, Austrian or Liechtensteinan.

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Yeah! I am completely against the use of bots! Most of the bots impact the Steemit Community in a bad way, making the community users tend more to the rewards side rather than building up a profile here.

Without all those pesky bots, Steemit would be one step closer to perfection.

Nice picture.
The police of Bavaria is much appreciated
:)))
I guess, it is a german upvote spam bot ring

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awesome picture good job police

Good Job Sir...It must be tedious tracking these lowlifes...
Newq

This seems like legit free market police work, 100% upvote from me.

thanks,good work themarkymark and NOW spammers looks like.....original_75591927.gif

Commenting for keeping some track of this piece of shit.
Piece of shit because of the names he chose.
Serial transfer ambush scammer.
Good the wallet now has some auto completion for verification.

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This comment has received a 7.57 % upvote from @steemdiffuser thanks to: @stimialiti. Steem on my friend!

Above average bids may get additional upvotes from our trail members!

Get Upvotes, Join Our Trail, or Delegate Some SP

Great work, those spammers just drain value out of steem!

excellent work trying to keep it clean. If us regular users see something, who do we tag to report it ? id have no idea how to follow a trail such as you did.
A week back, I saw 6 posts in #introduceyourself all identical and from the same person. Who do you turn to ?
Thanks for taking action :-)

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@steemcleaners is a good one to turn accounts in to

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Thanks for replying, Do we just tag them in a comment on the offending post ?

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I've always turned in accounts on the steem cleaners discord channel.

https://discord.gg/9dkwgz

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Right, OK. I need to work out how to use Discord !! I knew this day would come eventually lol Thanks again mate :-)

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There is a report abuse form on steemcleaners also.

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This link to the Steemcleaners Discord has expired.

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https://discord.gg/HASBN3C Here this one shouldn’t expire

You got my vote mate, and please continue to clean up our beloved Steemit!

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I think we need to more actively downvote spammers.

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I 100% agree, and hopefully more witnesses start actively policing them as well.

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Yes. I'm trying to create a croud-funded anti-spam bot, which would (as set out on: https://steemit.com/spam/@missioncontrol/croudfunded-anti-spam-bot) spend 50% of a vote every 2.4 hours downvoting what the community considers spam, and the other 50% rewarding what the community considers good content.

Thanks @themarkymark for your hard work to research and expose spam and abuse on the platform. I have removed the three bot accounts mentioned from the Steem Bot Tracker website pending any further information.

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Thank you for keeping on top of that.

My regards! I know how hard this work is.

Once I spent the whole day searching for new interesting authors, but instead I discovered a huge amount of shit and various cheating schemes. That day brought me 12 STEEM from Steemcleaners and a huge disappointment from what is happening around, when you find one cheater, and he leads you to another ten and so on...

Boom! It was like enlightenment ... a terrible realization of how many fraudsters are here, and how many of them are still unnoticed. I was just shocked by the scale of what is happening. I asked Patrice how she feels, watching this all, and she replied that I saw only a small piece of the picture...

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she replied that I saw only a small piece of the picture...

Yup ;(

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Are you a member of Steemcleaners? or Spaminators?

You should be a detective! I didn't realize this kind of thing was going on. We need a bot to fight the bots!

That’s bad news. Nuoviso is an esoteric/alternative media publisher in Germany operating for as long as I can think. They are the first big name from that scene from Germany here on Steemit.

I was never a big fan but I respected their work giving a voice to censored authors in the German language.

When you say “spam” do you mean posts without proper content?

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His main account Nuoviso is his "legitimate" account. He runs also as Matzep and Ophelion creating tons of accounts with vote circles and abusing bots for stupid fraudulent posts. He also spams a ton of wallet memos on some of the accounts.

Now that I have linked the entire network it shouldn't be hard to verify. I'm also familiar with his YouTube Channel with over 90K subscribers.

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Well what can be done about this? Because this is completely unfair and wrong. What can Steemit and witnesses do to fix that?

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It really isn't a witness's job. A witness is responsible for producing blocks, maintaining a price feed, and adjusting some parameters to attempt to peg SBD.

Many witnesses are passionate about the platform and do things to prevent this, but it's not what they are here for. Well the ones that are here, many of them don't even log in anymore.

What can be done? Not a whole lot, it requires people with the power to do something which means throwing away money. It's not really a fair expectation of anyone. We can blacklist them from being rewarded by promotion services, but there is no way to ban a user in a decentralized system. That's the beauty and the curse of decentralization.

@patrice and SteemCleaners does a lot to combat this, but there is just far too much to find and counter. All the Steem Power used to spam has to be countered with an equal amount to bring balance. The amount of abuse is in the millions of Steem Power/day and there just isn't enough Steem Power being used to clean the platform as there is abusing it.

Until there more Steem Power devoted to fighting spam and abuse on the platform, it will be open season.

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Great job. thanks!
Unfortunately as long as this platform technically makes such behavior possible nothing will change. Imagine steemit becoming mainstream, then we need a real police force.

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Who's job is it to write the code that allows for bots? Don't you as a witness (or future witness) ever vote on improvements to the code @themarkymark?

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Almost all the code done is by Steemit Inc, witnesses can refuse it by not updating or doing their own fork. As of now, no one outside of Steemit Inc has done forks. There have been pull requests by users and witnesses that have been approved, but most stuff just sits in limbo and never gets touched.

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But theoretically a witness could produce a fork and get enough other witnesses to approve? And if so, is it 50% plus one to pass a fork, or is it actually on a consensus model?

Sorry, but wtf is buildawhale?
How to use it?

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Send 3 SBD+ to @buildawhale with a post you want to promote as the memo. We come around every 3 hours or so and vote. The best posts get featured in our daily Curation Digest.

Great work @themarkymark - just a question. This is turning up as top trending post in #deutsch which is actually only for posts written in German aka #deutsch language - just wanted to raise this before you get some flags by our German management lol!

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I'll remove the tag, I didn't have it there originally, but was told to add it as a lot of Germans vote for him.

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no worries - seems most Germans are fine with it as it is an important topic! So you might keep it - was surprised to see this guy - seems a huge number on some platforms but never interacted with him or his 50 other profiles - not even following him. I am investigating this as well now a bit - seems at least the most do not support him.

Any time there is the potential for financial gain, there will be people trying to hack the system. The Bitcoin/crypto currency world itself is a perfect example as almost every day brings another exchange that has been hacked and robbed.

Kudos to you for having the skills, patience and the ethics to try and clean house here.

Hopefully, as time goes on, we will all become more knowledgeable in the signs of these fake accounts, and make your job easier.

Dang, that's just dirty. But not unexpected. People will always try and game a system to try and get the maximum rewards for the minimum effort. Thanks for the time and energy you put into exposing this ring!

Keep fighting the spam bastards! Thanks for the info

Nice detective work!

Also I've got to ask, Is Juny June, July, or both?

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June, I'm running on little sleep. Thanks, I updated it.

Like seriously? Then how come no one got to find out until now. You must be prety good @themarkymark

Nice work bro; have resteemed it so more people can see and learn.

Very sad to see people like these, abusing these system. Thank you very much for exposing them.

Holy shit those feed screenshots lol.

Ah yes, I noticed some pingpong style activities a while ago with bots playing some kind of pingpong upvoting thingy amongst accounts, glad to see you are watching out for this community, where would you even report suspicious activities other then flagging?

Great observation! Now we just need to stop this spam by flagging it :)

Thank you for the information, the experiences and guidance from the people who better understand still I look forward to. Your next help I wait, do not forget my post. thank you

Accounts are added to @upme blacklist as well. Good work.

Great Job! I have seen posts by some of these accounts and have been watching them. It seems they try to get a name as close as they can to the good accounts here so it will not be spotted so easy and they can get away with scamming longer.

Someone asked me to buy a bot.But After reading your article I think isn't good for me.Thank for your research.You make steemit good

Dear @themarkymark
I become your follower and honestly love your blog!
Great work!

👍 great work @themarkymark most of the spam names are by juggling the bot names... Too shrewed to handle them..

nice job👍

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my thoughts exactly. it's not easy to do this type of research, i hope everyone in that space keeps getting exposed

Very interesting, I need to look more at it.

okay thanks for your information very useful for myself and also others, happy to work with the original results, not imitate someone else.

That is a huge abuse, I didn't thought that somebody is capable of something like that, this guy dedicated his life to abuse Steem... That should get really big flags, for the good of Steem. This is a great job you have done!

Just a short observation, I am sorry I make it, but I couldn't notice it, you are overusing the word most(ly)

Hope you don't hate me for saying it :D

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Didn't spend any time proofreading as I'm beat.
I swapped a few mosts out.

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...that's how you become a true fan. Meanwhile most of the time....(in marky's writing)

You got a 7.88% upvote from @postpromoter courtesy of @themarkymark!

Want to promote your posts too? Check out the Steem Bot Tracker website for more info. If you would like to support the development of @postpromoter and the bot tracker please vote for @yabapmatt for witness!

This post has received a 9.41 % upvote from @boomerang thanks to: @themarkymark

(Resteeming) Thank you for taking the time to expose this "spammer." It is a shame there are some who abuse the system and dont give back to the community. You gave up 4+ hours to expose this person. Maybe we can all join in and flag their account or whatever it takes to stop them in their tracks.

good idea

To think i am a victim of these fake vote_bots is very hurting. I have lost my SBDs to some of these fake bots in past. Thanks for this information

Wow..i like it, good job

I have almost 300 followers.
Maybe I'm wrong about this. But I think that if all bots are removed from steemit I will maybe only have around 10 followers left :p

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Possibly, but many are real users manually doing the follow for follow tactic because they don't have anything interesting to say or they have something interesting to say but haven't been heard.

I realize that my up vote is a mere $0.02 but I can't stand these spammers who constantly abuse this wonderful platform. @themarkymArk thank you for filtering through the bullshit. Steemit has the capacity to surpass Facebook and Medium, but with this kind of abuse it becomes far more challenging.

@themarkymark this is good job done. Fighting corruption is what we presently need on steemit.

Thank you for spending time investigating this.

As @nathen007 has mentioned, can we also contribute to the community by way of reporting? If there's something for folks like us, do let us know. Happy to contribute.

I've seen many accounts where there's no content, just a song video from YouTube and they pay vote bots and are making more than 75 SBD per day.

I have no issues when the quality is great. But these guys are just abusing the system. How do we report such accounts?

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You can post in our #abuse Discord channel and we will look into it.
I am working on a better solution as well.

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Hey Marky,
doing a great job there..!
Where could I report if I happen to have a look at someone abusing buying bot.. like here or here..??

If you need a website like steemcleaners for report the bot abuse .. I am willing to contribute... like guys who comment all the time, gets to people who are abusing bots so they may be ready to report) ... so maybe ... or running campaign for SP delegation could work as well ... so you don't need to do everything yourself ....

Nice work. thanks for spending the time to do this. It's really very much appreciated.

now this is a massive breakthrough. really impressive. keep the hardwork going .. really appreciated ..

Graet knowledge n good work

I'm still of the opinion that some of the inflation needs to be set aside for a bounty pool for work like this.
Let the witnesses, or a delegation elected in the same way, set who gets the bounties.

This work is essential to keep the game worth playing for the small users prior to them gathering a following.
These newbie accounts are the ones that those scammer rewards are coming from, they are not coming from the whale circle jerks due to their stakes being secure in the math due to their size.
However, these small accounts are the $100 dollar investors that will make steem a currency.

Any plans to take on the whales doing the same?

This is pretty scary. Every day we hear about someone new trying to scam the system here. There are a lot of people here who are really trying to make this thing work and put the best content they possibly can up here but there is also an equal or greater number of people who are only trying to get high score in the upvote department by any means necessary. If we all don't get together to stop this I think steemit the golden goose is going to have some serious problems down the road.

Seriously! @themarkymark. I almost jump out of my skin reading this. So, when most of us are busy creating and curating posts, someone at the back uses Bot maliciously to amass such reward?

If you ask me, I think giving the ability to run multiple accounts ruins the joy of seeing your post receiving the due rewards.

Here is my thank you for standing up against the menace in such diplomatic way.

I am @isaaceko

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This is really just a drop in the bucket. I just happened to spend the time unraveling it. Spend 30 seconds and you will find even more doing it.

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A great way to go. Thumbs up!

Congratulations @themarkymark, this post is the second most rewarded post (based on pending payouts) in the last 12 hours written by a Hero account holder (accounts that hold between 10 and 100 Mega Vests). The total number of posts by Hero account holders during this period was 362 and the total pending payments to posts in this category was $8898.02. To see the full list of highest paid posts across all accounts categories, click here.

If you do not wish to receive these messages in future, please reply stop to this comment.

its great that you take time out of your day to do this :) thank you

You're a hero we need...but may not deserve.

I hate people sometimes.

Ah! That's a staggering number. Getting undue advantage on a platform thats trying to spead hope is selfish! @themarkymark Good job bro, good job!!!

good job!

Apologies if this is a stupid request (I'm very new to Steemit). Would it be possible for you to list out the steps that you took in order to identify the abusers? I'm wondering if it's possible for others to help out with this type of work.

Thank you for the early spring cleaning

And here i am thinking i am the devil for promoting few of my posts using bots.

@atmosblack are you aware of this?

well done mate -- i wish people could only open 1-3 accounts- surely the IP address gives it away - upvoted

Thank You @themarkymark for your dedication to the platform and taking the time to do this.

This is very useful information to know, especially for new people.

As in life, the way to 'combat' this seems to be to create awareness and to not participate. Just like shopping at Walmart, people who are poorer or feel powerless will feel like they have to do whatever is best for them and get sucked into giving their power to parasites. Awareness is it thats our weapon. I have been and will be diligent in educating people I introduce to steemit. Thank you again 🙏

This post should be an embarrassment to you @themarkymark
Your efforts are honorable but for what... a spammer who is making a few dollars?

All while... someone like bernie has the same army of accounts which do the same. Not just bernie. She is just the most well known. Free pass there though ay.

This is a laughable thing of steemit.
Almost ALL turn a blind eye to whales raping the rewards and then lynch each other when they discover a fellow minnow raping a few crusty dollars out of the reward pool.

It's not even about "protecting the rewards and the system"
It's really about... "Hey! Only I can rape the rewards, you little maggots keep your hands out of the cookie jar".

Yeah.... this can work long term.

Anything that is of value draws the scammers. It is a shame the internet is plagued by this.

Wow, so that's one down, how many spammers of this magnitude are there operating on Steemit? One thing that never quite gave me a good feeling on here was having to always be skeptical of posts that just didn't seem sincere, relevant, real, or...not a bot. I understand bots have their purpose for good here, but the majority of their presence appears to be illegitimate.

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Go whale spotting, you have a starting number at least...
Oh my bad. they're not known as 'scammers' they're known as 'investors'.
So 'circle jerk' is the modus operandi. Not to be questioned. So move on.

Thank you for all your hard work, steemit community need more detectives like you. You have my upvote.

Hello @themarkymark, You may be interested in checking this account out. https://steemit.com/@phoenix-group They appear to be a take a picture from somewhere on the internet put a number on the post and then go to upvote bots for votes scam. Low dollar amounts, but as you know they add up.

This is really helpful. I am so thankful I came across with your post @themarkymark. Thank you so much. realy appreciated.

Good work cleaning house! Screw that guy.

Excellent

Wow this is a lot

labor thieves, permanent self-employed people have been stolen. Thanks to the sensitive people like you, Steem will survive. I wish and wish for the continuation of success.@Themarkymark

Good work. At least one of the offending Bots accounts is not only a Spammer, but also Scammer. I really don't understand why @yabapmatt lists bots with Upvote value of less than 0.60 that ask for 0.1 bidding.

I proceed to vote for you as Witnesses.

“Wissenschaft” made me giggle. I was like, “So there’s actually another Leopold Zunz fan on Steemit?”

I’m also very slowly losing my mind, so maybe it was not at all rational for me to think that in between spamming Steemit, this guy was doing s little light research on the Documentary Hypothesis...

that man really abusing steem, must get rid of him.. jail, jail, jail bot jail!!

Good research work my friend really need to find a way to put and end to such things happening here. I am sure there are a ton more cases such as this.

damn, good job
I can't believe the length you took to uncover the whole system!!!!

Someone pointed the freeupvote account to be a while back and I had started looking into this but something else came up. Glad you connected the dots.. 51 of then at least. I surmise this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks for being mindful for this sort of thing.

AH, the ol' something for nothing gambit. As a Newbie minnow here I'm not sure how this all pans out, like sifting for gold maybe. Thank you for your huge effort.

It's akin to the start of the invention of email and then those exploiting the vulnerability of it. It's was free so spam was discovered. I still like Steem yet I'm experimenting more writing in Yours. Org

holy nice work! thank you!

good job!

I am just amazed how much time was taken to create and monitor all those accounts. One is enough work already! that much time and devotion should have been used on just one account like everybody and the result would have been evident.

Great work all the same @themarkymark...

@iamjimmy

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I'm sure there's some sort of scripting or auto-generation of new accounts being utilized

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Oh I see!

it's really sad that most people will work hard and get nothing because people choose to steal from the reward pool. please keep up the good work of weeding out these spammers. They are a threat to this platform

I feel like a need a shower after reading about that guy. Greed is such a low energy. Thanks, @themarkymark, for all the work you put into outing him.

This is the power of the blockchain - everything is visible, you just have to look for it! Thank you for this work

I ran into the randofish account the other day while I was investigating fake accounts. It lead me to a bunch of other upvote 'bots' that you mention here, and I came to the conclusion that they were scam upvote bots.

There is a lot of abuse happening around here, and it revolves around automated curation.

There has to be a better way. Do you bidbot owners really enjoy digging this deep and having to blacklist individual accounts every day?
We need a third party website like steemit chat that will be on the menu (maybe under steemit chat) called The Steemit Blacklist.

I also think that we should all consider supporting real people. If someone can't identify themselves there's a problem. Otherwise, the Welcome page is a bit misleading when it tells us to introduce ourselves with a selfie holding a piece of paper with todays date.

That's a touchy subject though, because it seems to be important that people can stay anonymous.

What a cesspool these bidbots have created...

Nice job!

I'm hoping to get back into SteemSQL soon so I can start flagging again. The spam accounts are ridiculous, and they're causing massive damage to the reward pool + making it much harder for new users to get noticed/rewarded for their content.

IMO copy-paste posts and comment spamming should trigger an automatic blacklisting. It's crazy that people are getting away with making hundreds (or thousands) of dollars off of stolen content and automated posts.

These are the days that we can differenciate a bot from a human. I wonder what will happen when they will be smarter than us :)

Good work. It's appreciated

Wow, @themarkymark. Great detective skills at uncovering the spammers out there.
Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing more from you!

Excellent work my friend!! Bravo!!