In the costly-spending O2O field, almost all firms have a grievous history of fraud transactions and anti-fraud transactions. Uber, Didi, and other vehicle calling services have become the trades favoured by many over the past two years, due to their high-profile spending of scores of millions US dollars every day.
The forms of fraud transactions by Uber, Didi, Kuaidi One and other apps are not so much differentiated. But Uber gives the highest subsidies. So both Uber and his counterparts are fraud transactions on Uber; they also persuade “customers” to click farm on Uber. Only when Didi gives the higher subsidy or during the rush hours will he gets part-timing for it.
This also evidences the recent challenges against Uber’s daily order quantity in China. Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, says that the daily order quantity in China is close to 1 million, but the overseas media repeatedly challenge the fake prosperity formed due to Uber’s fake orders.
According to investigations, Uber has gone too far in click farm. The single outlet of Taobao has traded 200,000 Uber passenger accounts. As Taobao orders are mostly made by small and loosely-distributed users, a greater number of users in groups make the deal by making phone calls or QQ messaging. The total fake orders by fraud transactions will be presumably up to 1 million in scale.
Disordered Fraud transactions by Uber
“Get 70 orders a week, and you will earn a bottom line of RMB 7,000. With additional subsidy to new car owners, you can get an easy payment of more than RMB 30,000 a month. ” From this April on, Uber has subsidized car owners to such an extent as even stunning the Chinese costly-spending patriarch Didi.
While a large swarm of car owners are scrambling for Uber, Uber also faces up with lots of click farmers. The media tried to search Tabao.com for the two key words: “Uber” and “优步（Uber in Chinese), finding that the results were all about account trading and fraud transactions. There were more than 200 Taobao links about trading of passenger and chauffeur accounts. Among these links, the firstly appearing ones had a trading volume of RMB 14,000 or so. Most Taobao shops provide a Uber QQ chat platform group.
A reporter from the media bought an inactivated Uber passenger account from the Taobao shops “Uber Home of Car Owners” and “Fish Little Store”, respectively. The shops provided a complete package of information including Uber and Alipay accounts, and mobile verification code, with one click farmer’s textbook as a compliment.
An inactivated Uber account is considered as essential to fraud transactions. Because it contains no record of car use, one can get a new passenger voucher worth RMB 30. In fraud transactions, if the fare is around RMB 30, you can get Uber’s subsidy at almost zero cost. Take Beijing for example, where the subsidy during rush hours will be 2.5 folds of the normal one. In that case, you can earn RMB 100 per order.
“Quite a number of users buy 100 or even 500 Uber accounts in one lot. Some users also ask if they can buy account automatic generators. But this can easily cause ‘poisonous needles’. There are also some cheaper accounts for sale in Taobao.com, but note that some are deactivated accounts that are possibly being frozen”, a customer service clerk from “Uber Home of Car Owners” tells the journalists. The clerk repeatedly tells the journalists that one cannot use the same account to farm click on the same chauffeur’s service twice, and the optimal number of farm clicks is expected to be less than 10.
Even if each account gives 5 farm clicks, “Uber Home of Car Owners” has produced 50,000 farm clicks alone. In Taobao platform, there are at least 15 shops with equivalent trade volumes. Conservatively speaking, there are more than 200,000 Uber accounts sold by Taobao shops for fraud transactions purposes. Some shops even announce that big volume buyers can befriend their QQ or WeChat accounts. It means that some large orders avert Taobao system’s governance and reach a deal by other means.
Diversified means of fraud transactions
QQ Group (group chat account) is a converging place of click farm information. There are scores of QQ Groups directly named after “Uber” or “Didi click farm”, yet differentiated by the prefix – name of a city. Such exclusive QQ Groups are accessible in Beijing, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Nanjing and other cities. Each of the QQ Groups named after “China” or “National” gather nearly 2,000 click farmers.
The perpetual topics dominating these QQ Groups include “Ask for needling (means fraud transactions)”, “Ask for nurse (means click farmer)”, “numerous mobile numbers for sale”, “sell inactivated passenger account, inactivated and much-used chauffeur accounts” and “click farm textbook, no risks” and other click farm tips. There are also discussions on the teaching of skills and the best fraud transactions.
Although click farms are collectively known “needling”, there are as many methods and tricks as beyond your imagination.
The simplest method is to ask your colleagues or friends to help fraud transactions, which is but an occasional behaviour. If you want to pursue long-term click farm, you need to find a click farm professional. A medium-sized team of click farmers may have more than 30,000 inactivated Uber passenger accounts.
A tailored service chauffeur Mr. Wang tells the media that the professionals will help to click farm in different ways. Some are a team who will send four persons to actually sit in each car, each having many accounts; they have “ups and downs” in sequence over the short distances, and with one day’s work, they can creates the expected number of fraud clicks. Others are teams who have virtual operation devices. They can click farm without taking a car. All they need to know is your car registration number and location. They will locate you and then have a virtual drive to form a like order.
Apart from fraud transactions by professions and non-professionals, self-fraud transactions makes up almost more than half of the trade. Usually, a click farmer will buy a mobile phone with modifiable IEME code or own many ones to log onto many passenger and chauffeur accounts, in order to enable “self-needling”. By this means, some click farmer can earn nearly RMB 20,000 every week.
A bigger surprise is that even if you have no car, you can get Uber’s subsidy by fraud transactions. One solution is to buy chauffeur account and information from QQ Group and Taobao shops. Alternatively, you can ask somebody to apply an account for you, who uses fake driver’s license (retouching by Photoshop) for registration.
Another solution is that some professional will provide one complete package of services. All they need are chauffeur account and password; the remaining jobs are automatically done by the computer, such as virtual positioning, auto-drive for order receipt, and passenger-side auto-ordering.
The bittersweet chauffeur
Chauffeurs hold different attitudes toward fraud transactions. Many a chauffeur says that they have ever click farmed, but for different reasons.
As mentioned above, Mr. Lin is a frequent click farmer, who tells the media that fraud transactions can earn you fast money and get things done quickly. On the other hand, he just thinks that his car would have only a service mileage of 100,000 kilometres in two years if the adequate mileage is covered. This is a fast depreciation that is not cost-effective.
Mr. Lin tells the media that there were once many click farmers, and most chauffeurs would do it, Uber couldn’t but let them go unchecked. Now Uber’s rules have changed, and it not worth fraud transactions any longer, especially asking someone to “needle”. That’s why he does it himself now.
Mr. Li and Mr. Wang are chauffeurs who click farm on Uber occasionally, on the similar ground of the increasing quota of tasks for Uber’s subsidy. 85 orders a week means that an Uber chauffeurs has to work six days a week, except the day of non-operation due to vehicle restriction rule, and picks up 15 passengers a days by working 12 hours a day. That’s why they need less burden.
However, some chauffeurs object to the practices of fraud transactions, thinking that their actual painstaking work ends up earning less than those click farmers do. But if an Uber account is frozen due to click farm, it would be better to take the pains of normal work.
They believe that lower-paid as it is, the new subsidy rule can urge them to earn up to RMB 5,000 a week by working harder, a way that is fairer to those who really do.
All Uber chauffeurs, fraud transactions or not, are dissatisfied with the sudden increase in the fraud orders received by mistakes after the enforcement of the new rule of order dispatch. According to the new subsidy rule, if you want a double subsidy, you need both receive the expected number of orders and to execute 60% of them. The cancellation of orders has, however, greatly decreased their number of orders executed.
A war between fraud and anti-fraud
Perhaps, Uber shows both likes and dislikes when being click farmed on. On one hand, fraud transactions means data prosperity in some sense, adding a promoter to their financing campaign. On the other hand, the defrauding of real money from Uber platform lowers the understanding of users’ demand. As for the rampant fraud transactions, Uber is also continuously working out his own anti-fraud rules.
This week, Uber updates his subsidy rules by changing the last week’s minimum subsidy of RMB6,000 for each 85 orders received into the current subsidy being doubled minimum fare. The order dispatch rule also changes from the nearby dispatching to the small-scale random dispatching.
The new rules bring greater “needling” difficulty. The orders of a click farmer can be easily dispatched to non-click farm chauffeurs, and many cancellations may lead to the account freezing by Uber system. The introduction of the new subsidy rule disables the quantity-based fraud transactions, because the specified quantity of orders, if not worth much in total, don’t mean higher subsidy.
In addition, the new version of Uber app has toughened the efforts to free fraud accounts. The great number of short-distance orders, virtual operation, two passenger-orders for the same chauffeur and use of one mobile phone for different accounts will easily cause account freezing. Uber usually works by freezing IEME code of a mobile phone. Once IEME code is frozen, any account cannot run in the mobile phone and then get frozen as well.
Uber’s new rules decrease the practices of fraud transactions. On one hand, the difficulty and intensity of earning subsidy is not so much as before. On the other hand, the account freezing is far stricter than ever. But in the field of click farm, there are a ceaseless flow of new comers for the sake of benefits, and veterans and professionals can always find new loopholes and methods against the rules.
For minimum fare, those who commit fraud transactions provide an optimal amount, depending on the fraud transactions of different periods, in order to ensure the maximum earning within the upper limit of subsidy. In response to the new rule of order dispatch, they suggest that chauffeurs click farm in desolate places. The greater intensity of account freezing urges them to quicken the updating of passenger accounts and to sell mobile phones and software with modifiable IEME codes.
Experts tell the media that Uber is fully equipped with anti-fraud technology. But Uber’s data is not big or smart enough. If too strict control is introduced, the unexpected harms will occur, affecting the user experience. What can be done now is find a balance.
Besides, firms find it very difficult to give more punishments to click farmers. The severest form is but account freezing and earning take-back, far from being a real threat.
When interviewed, Zhao Zhanling, a cyber-lawyer, says that click farm is a default of service contract and platforms like Uber can punish click farmers as per the contract. But this doesn’t easily constitute a breach of law. Still, the breach of law is a civil action that cannot be addressed at administrative and criminal levels. It is not a cost-effective choice. So firms seldom turn to law for resort.
The focus of the cat-and-mouse game between fraud transactions and anti-fraud transactions is on subsidy and earning. The competition between firms and the market growing drive determines the prolonged use of subsidy. This guerrilla war-like game will continue as well.