Investigating the Gentlee-Boy Faucet Farm

in utopian-io •  12 days ago

"Faucet farming" refers to the malicious exploitation of free accounts provided by Steemit Inc (@steem) to new users. New users are granted one free account to join the Steem ecosystem with. While most users are happy with that one account, or at the most, with two, there are always scammers who are at the ready to take advantage of this new user welcoming system.

You can learn more about the different exploitative Steem reward farming abuse types here.

Faucet Farm Investigation and Take Down

The "gentlee-boy" faucet farm (named after its main account) of over 800 @steem faucet accounts has been taken down and delegation has been removed.

The farm was first noticed during the month of October 2018 when it was first added to @spaminator. For a while it appeared that the farming halted, but I continued to monitor activity to be sure. Faucet farmers often pause to ward off suspicion or to focus on parallel farms.

During the end of January / February 2019 it fell back on the radar as this user was creating 100s of new accounts at Steemit's expense, and more notably at the reward pools expense as they were using all these accounts to upvote posts created by @gentlee-boy.

Leveraging faucet farming to create large botnets like this leads to what we call "post farming", which is posting virtually anything for the purposes of upvoting and exploiting the reward pool.

Quick Maths



Source: Pixabay

The problem with these farms, once they reach levels of 100s to 1000s of accounts they really start building up the income. To put it into perspective, let's do some simple maths based on this farm.

Let's say we have 800 accounts, all being delegated to by @steem for 15 SP each. That works out to a 12,000 SP vote, that's 120,000 SP per day which equates to $3.66* per day or $1337.01* per year from the pool that could be going to quality content from REAL users posting and voting.

*Based on a Steem price of 50 cents

GitHub Pull Request (PR)

Special thanks to @themarkymark for getting the PR done. You can read more about which accounts were added here #62.

For those who don't know, a "PR" is a request to add lines of code to a GitHub repository. In this case, the "Redeemer-Irredeemables" repository controls the removal of delegation that Steemit Inc grants to new users. By getting that small starter delegation removed, the faucet farm is rendered useless for the purposes of post farming.

Example of Farmed Accounts

While some of the farmed accounts had random names, many were thematic.

These are just some of the thematic accounts that were created: @alim10, @alim11, @alim12, @alim19, @alim2, @alim20, @alim21, @alim22, @alim23, @alim24, @alim25, @alim26, @alim27, @alim28, @alim29, @alim3, @alim30, @alim31, @alim33, @alim34, @alim35, @alim36, @alim37, @alim38, @alim39, @alim4, @alim41, @alim43 @alim44, @alim5, @alim50, @alim51, @alim53, @alim54, @alim55, @alim56, @alim57, @alim58, @alim59, @alim6, @alim60, @alim61, @alim62, @alim63, @alim7, @alim8, @alim9

The Steemd transaction pages of all of these accounts look the same. They are all strung together in massive trails to upvote the accounts belong to the abuser.

Because of the PR, Steemit Inc removed the delegation to these accounts.

How You Can Help Stop Abuse

You can help by reporting suspicious activity like this to the @steemcleaners at our Discord or by filling out the form at http://steemcleaners.com/reports/new

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Hello there @pjau!

I did not think you would grace us with a contribution from your account. While informative, I find it nauseating to read about this type of abuse. What started out as helping hands to port newbies to the ecosystem are also tools for bad actors.

The worst part is, this is a small-time vote farm compared to what the @steemcleaners have dealt with in the past. Once they become big enough, they can become dolphins and beyond. Then, they establish themselves permanent seats amongst stakeholders.

Part of me believe that we need a system to loan RC. This way, people would have to earn and/or buy their voting power. This place needs less shady personas. If they want to vote for themselves, they better buy their own stake!

I want to thank you for all the time you have devoted into the anti-abuse initiatives. Many of them do not realize how much time you put into the ecosystem without being in the foreground.


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[utopian-moderator]

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Thank you for your review, @enforcer48! Keep up the good work!

Definitely a great investigation! I am pretty new to steem in general, but I still absolutely hate accounts that do this. It is plain disgusting to be profiting from a helping hand provided to new accounts... The idea of delegating resource credits is pretty good. What would it take to get this implemented somehow?

Posted using Partiko Android

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A proposal would need to be written up, someone would need to code it too. Then you would need at least 17 of the top 20 witnesses to approve of it.

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Why were you targeted with the downvotes?

Posted using Partiko Android

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Just part of the life of an abuse fighter, you get stalkers who like to flag your posts in retaliation. Hehe

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Hmmmmm... What if you posted a ton of comments to drain their voting power...

Posted using Partiko Android

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Ah, I could but then I would have to spam and besides it doesn't really bother me anyway 😂

Thanks for your work! 💪👌 :)

Posted using Partiko Android

Hi @pjau!

Your post was upvoted by @steem-ua, new Steem dApp, using UserAuthority for algorithmic post curation!
Your UA account score is currently 6.072 which ranks you at #296 across all Steem accounts.
Your rank has improved 2 places in the last three days (old rank 298).

In our last Algorithmic Curation Round, consisting of 225 contributions, your post is ranked at #58.

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