Introducing CryptoRecycling: A Covert, Concealed Approach to Reposting - @adrianobalan & @sardrt

in utopian-io •  8 months ago  (edited)


During the process of investigating a user that appears to be cropping photographs and abusing bidbots via reposting, we stumbled upon a novel and disturbing type of abuse that left us in awe. Here is how the story begins....

In this post there is a picture that was brought to our attention by @themarkymark along with a source, this is the picture in the post:


We searched and found the original source of that image, the photo is cropped from this other photograph:

Applemac12- DeviantArt

Applemac12 has been contacted to confirm that the photograph was taken by him and here is his reply:

EDIT: The user @adrianobalan edited the post with the plagiarized photograph after the publication of this post, editing two other pictures out, which are probably plagiarized too.
Link to "deleted" image

Edited 14 hours ago

Continuing with our in depth investigation, we then began to look into who this user was associated with, to assess what was his network of support and proximity. We found that the user most associated with this user was @sardrt since he resteems most of what she posts and viceversa. We also found that both users seem to derive a large part of their votes from bidbots, specifically @ocdb in the case of @sardrt and @minnowbooster in the case of @adrianobalan and that both users use a significant part of their votes on eachother.





Then we begun to look into @sardrt, and initially we found puzzling posts like these:




Initially it looks like reposting the same picture with different numbers in a series called "flowers". It didnt make sense, we needed to go....

Under the Hood

By looking at the titles we noticed that the posts' titles had been edited, and in those same posts we found this edition history:

A post about Boboli Gardens in Florence, completely "erased", and edited to a picture of a flower

A post about the Carnation flower, completlety "erased" and edited to a picture of a flower that is not a carnation.

A post about about Geraniums, completely "erased" and edited to a picture of a flower that is not a geranium.

And Adriano?

At this point we remembered that we got to this user because it was associated to adrianobalan, so we went and looked for the same pattern in his posts and....


A 2 year old post with a rose and a travel tag....

That was originally a post about Saint Peter's Church in Rome...

Edited 27 days ago...

After this one we found dozens of posts by @adrianobalan edited in such a manner starting 28 days ago, it was then we realized we had a pattern of abuse at hand and what it was all about.

What's Going On Here?

The users seem to be editing posts to avoid the detection of the reposting or recycling of the photographs and text in those posts and also in an attempt to conceal previous content from reverse image search and regular text search once the content is reposted again so that said practice is not detected and the posts can be presented as original, unique content.

Enter CryptoRecycling

Once the reason behind this practice became apparent, we went back to the @sardrt profile and looked for more cases like the ones above, and we also found dozens edited in the same manner starting 26 days ago, including these:

A 9 month old post edited to a picture of a rose...
That used to be a post about Lobelias..
Edited 25 days ago and retitled "Roses 24"

A 9 month old post edited to a picture of a flower
That used to be a post about the Monet Gardens in Giverny
Edited 26 days ago and retitled "Blooms 45"

A 10 month old post edited to a blurred sunset picture
That used to be a post about the history of streetlamps
Edited 26 days ago and retitled "Sunsets 33"

An 11 months old post edited to a picture of a tulip
That used to be post about Orchids...
Edited 26 days ago and retitled "Flowers 44

An 11 months old post edited to a picture of a plant on a tree
That used to be a post about the churches in Sardinia
Edited 26 days ago and retitled "Nel Bosco" (In the woods)

An 11 months old post edited to a picture of a blurry suset
That used to be a post about a UNESCO site in Palermo
Edited 26 days ago and retitled "Sunsets 66"

And What about the Reposts?

Let us show you now, a few cases of the actual reposts, starting by a recent post:

Here is a post made yesterday about the Reggia di Venaria UNESCO site in Torino and bidbotted with @smartmarket/ @smartsteem :

And here is a post made on September 2017:
With the same text plus the English version and mostly the same pictures.
Edited 6 days ago to the picture of a sunset and retitled "Sunset33"

Here is a post made 7 months ago:
With the English version only and mostly the same pictures
Edited 21 days ago to the same picture we saw above of the plant in a tree and retitled "Nature 32"

Here are the reposted pictures in those last 3 posts:

Only That?

And here are 9 posts where some or most of the same pictures and text are recycled about the Santorini Island and then the posts "erased" and edited with random content and titles as seen above:

Revision History
Edited 20 days ago

Revision History
Edited 6 days ago

Revision History
Edited 12 days ago

Revision History
Edited 11 days ago

Revision History
Edited 4 days ago

Revision History
Edited 5 days ago

Revision History
Edited 22 days ago

Revision History
Edited 6 days ago

Bonus Bizarre Edit

Revision History
Edited 5 days ago

Bonus Repost in EOS

This is Jaguar Force,
Reporting Directly from the Jungle.

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We meet again @jaguar.force!

I have to say, this type of investigation is one of my favorites. Most people know of spam or outright plagiarism. Sometimes, Steemians hear of collusive vote farming with or without farming accounts. The rest is sometimes bid bot uses that on the gray line of abuse.

Now this, is something that hides in the shadows. Yet, it mocks the curators and their respective curation initiatives. To commit to this level of fraud, it shows the user @sardrt and @adrianobalan are bad actors. Nothing more.

We are fortunate that the blockchain is an open book. Everyone is free to examine the ledger and obtain relevant information recorded. In a more centralized network, this could have been near impossible. Unless, of course, someone caught the clues at the right moment.

I do not know how much time you spent on reading into this particular user, but I commend you for the time and effort. I hope the relevant parties will take action. This is something that @acidyo, @therealwolf, @furious-one, @themarkymark, etc. should review.

Thank you for exposing this shady behavior. Their fraud and mockery must not continue.

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  ·  8 months ago Reveal Comment

I am not sure why everyone seems to be doing cartwheels. It's not difficult to find abusers on steem. They are easy to find on the trending page.

The real issue is having enough people with steem power to flag the abusers.

As for @jaguar.force, she has done more damage than good in my view, with her agressive and rude language. She has made false accusations against artists and made this place even more toxic than it was.

It's like curing a disease by killing the patient. Hurrah, an amazing cure. Who wants it?

We have a massive issue with user onboarding and retention, @jaguar.force's false accusations which meant she was booted from ntopaz discord and later ocdb. She still hasn't apologized for that.

So yes, well done, you found an abuser, but what about all the artists that were falsely accused? What about all the people she has upset? I wouldn't give praise to a police man who solved crime by shooting on site anyone they suspected.

I know, many will disagree with me. So be it. Just don't say I didn't warn you all later.


  ·  8 months ago (edited)Reveal Comment

I totally loved it. I almost didn't have time to read it, let alone reply as I was so busy working on saving this platform from the scourge of misdrawn eyes that may look familiar to other eyes. Can you imagine? I made sure I let that super powerful plankton account know all about how they were a thief! Because, you know, that's the most useful thing I have to offer the world, bullying poor Venezuelan artists based on just my view.

  ·  8 months ago Reveal Comment

ǝɹǝɥ sɐʍ ɹoʇɐɹnƆ pɐW ǝɥ┴

Why do bid-bots exist - I can (partially) understand

What I can not understand is why those bid-bots are not supporting top quality content creators?

For bid-bots, it would be basically the same, for the platform it would be waaay better.
Why is it a problem to recruit the best content creators from Instagram, 500px, YouTube... and make some sort of "contract" with them?

I guess there are 2 reasons:

  • currently active users don't want to compete with those who are competent
  • currently active users are ideologically possessed and believe in a completely different reality

It's difficult to describe how bad it is to a real photographer to see that sub mediocre photo gets 20$ while the perfect photo gets 1$

And bid bots generally goes by “give me a dollar, I’ll give you two in return”. Most people will see it as a red flag for scam.

Of course they are almost a scam. But if they want to "sell" their power, why they don't approach the communities instead. Or really good authors and make a long term deal with them. That's the thing I can't understand.

Probably because it would take more than one (usually) to get to high trending. It also doesn't help that most bots (perhaps all) don't actually have QA teams to check what they are promoting.

For the most part, it's all indiscriminate upvotes unless you wind up on a blacklist. Owners also make less money if they set up more conditions.

Wow! That's a great bit of investigation. We need to deal with such abuse. I hope more people will get involved in the good fight

Steve, this is a different case. I know personally Sardrt (she's italian) and I'm sure she's not a plagiarist.She's a photographer and she's on social media since a lot of yerars. Every photo she published here are from her own qorks and I really can't understand why this user focused his (or her) attention to her saying all around she's a sort of scam/plagiarist/abuser. Sorry, but I watched a lot of plagiarist and scammers years since I started here (and every time I did all my best to contrast them, calling also steemcleaner), but this is not the case. I think real scammers, real plagiarists, real bad people are all around us, but this fight against Sardrt is not a good fight, in my own opinion.

It can be hard to judge if someone is for real, but there does seem to be something suspicious going on. I will not get more involved in this.

I agree with you, it's hard to judge if someone is for real, but before to start a flag fight it could be useful to investigate better on the owner of the pics and she share her works online from years. I don't want to talk about the other things, I just say that the proof she's real and she's the owner of the pics are simply online, on Facebook too. I also will not involved more in this. 😊

Posted using Partiko Android

What's so hard about it? It's pretty obvious. Content recycling is not a good thing.

All I see are people rallying behind blindly.

I've not done my own investigation on this due to lack of time. What I saw looked suspicious. People complain we flag before talking to them, but it gets their attention.

I have to say this time you made a really great Job.

Posted using Partiko Android

Thats a brilliant bit of work. Im glad this slimeball has been outed. Id suggest a huge number of flower pics on this chain particularly are screenshotted flickr rip offs but proving it is another thing.
I will learn so much from this.
Thanks again and best wishes :-)

I am amazed at the depths to which you had to go to expose this?, makes one long for pre-internet days( being old) when a good old letter bomb would have sorted this out!

That is really shocking as the @steemitworldmap has curated @sardrt many times in the past. In fact, we are aware of two other accounts who recycle old posts, one deletes the content from his old posts, and the other claims he was doing an experiment.

  ·  8 months ago Reveal Comment

Wow Great job! Too much data on this post. I am in link overload, lol
I guess there is no better way to expose long term reward pool abusers than this way WOW

Como me gusta ver que la gente dedica tiempo para investigar y lo mejor sustentar lo que dicen sigue así.

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Terrific job, I am quite amazed by the proofs exposed here.

Thank you Charles, we re-steemed your post, couldn't have said it better if we tried.
whats your discord id?

  ·  8 months ago Reveal Comment