Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Ticket 'scammers' facing slammer

Since a CAPTCHA only exists to decide if the entity which is looking at it is capable of decoding it, is there anything morally wrong with using a machine which can solve them?

We ask as four men behind a company trading as Wiseguy Tickets in the US are charged with an alleged scam:

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey said on Monday that four men operating under the name Wiseguys Tickets had hacked into online sites, buying more than 1 million tickets to some of the country’s most popular musical and sporting events and then reselling them for more than $25 million in profit.

In its 43-count indictment, the prosecutors say the men built a computer network that created thousands of fake accounts and built a program that could outsmart the ticketing software that creates those odd-shaped letters designed to require human verification.

I'm not sure, even if the claims are true, that anyone has hacked into anything - they've worked out how to game the system; they've written or obtained software that perform the same function as a person but much, much more quickly - but if you were hacking in, you wouldn't be bothering to solve CAPTCHAS in the first place, would you?

Keeping supplies of tickets out of the hands of fans and selling them on later at a massive mark-up, though, is clearly wrong and criminal. Except when Ticketmaster is doing is it, apparently.


Anonymous said...

I see that spam moderation policy is working well.

Simon Hayes Budgen said...

Thank you.

Oh, you were being sarcastic?

The thing is, there has to be a balance between moderation and unmoderation, otherwise comments just die off quickly. So the last few day's posts are open, comments on older posts are premoderated.

That catches about 95% of the spam which never makes the live site.

The rest, I usually catch and deal with within a couple of hours. But I've been away from the computer a lot this week - you'll have noticed fewer posts than usual - and, as sod's law dictates, it coincided with someone posting spam to the newer posts.

Apologies that this happened. It's a balance, and today we fell off the balance.

Now, who wants to hear about some nice shoes I'm trying to sell?

Anonymous said...

Was only a throwaway comment mate, wasn't having a go. Just thought it was quite funny seeing a big dollop of spam next to a 'no spam' moderation policy warning.

My boyfriend on the other hand, he hates spam in all its forms. (We met on wwwDOTinterracialstdmingletallromance.c_o_m___, you should try it some time...)

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As a general rule, posts will only be deleted if they reek of spam.