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Technical Reports: CMU-CyLab-10-011

Title:Dissecting One Click Frauds
Authors:Nicolas Christin, Sally Yanagihara, and Keisuke Kamataki
Publication Date:April 23, 2010


"One Click Fraud" is an online confidence scam that has been plaguing an increasing number of Japanese Internet users, in spite of new laws and the mobilization of police task forces. In this scam, the victim clicks on a link presented to them, only to be informed that they just entered a binding contract and are required to pay a registration fee for a service. Even though no money is legally owed, a large number of users prefer to pay up, because of potential embarrassment due to the type of service "requested" (e.g., pornographic goods).

Using public reports of fraudulent websites as a source of data, we analyze over 2,000 reported One Click Frauds incidents. By correlating several attributes (WHOIS data, bank accounts, phone numbers, malware installed...), we discover that a few fraudsters are seemingly responsible for a majority of the scams, and evidence a number of loopholes these miscreants exploit. We further show that, while some of these sites may also be engaging in other illicit activities such as spamming, the connection between different types of scams is much more tenuous than expected. Last, we show that the rise in the number of these frauds is fueled by high expected monetary gains in return for very little risk. The quantitative data obtained gives us an interesting window on the economic dynamics of some online criminal syndicates.

Full Report: CMU-CyLab-10-011

Related Project : Security and Privacy Risk Management in Organizations