ScamNation: Monetizing the Pandemic Through Partisan Content Farms and Subscription Traps

Politically charged content-creation "farms," advertising networks, and shady advertisers that sell fraudulent products form vast ecosystems that take advantage of the fear, doubt, and concern over the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this report, researchers leveraged RiskIQ's internet-wide visibility and unique data sets to identify and explicitly define entities engaging in one of these scam ecosystems. Drawing on our Internet Intelligence Graph, researchers could thread together seemingly unassociated infrastructure to draw distinct connections between misleading, highly partisan content that has lately focused on COVID-19, and affiliate advertising networks and scam product holding companies.

The findings show that, ultimately, these ecosystems work in concert to lure users into "subscription traps," which, through misleading messaging and hidden language in the fine print, trap buyers into making large monthly payments that are difficult, if not impossible, to get out of.

Download the report to see how this traffic funnel—from fake news sites to subscription traps—comes together to make its operatives a lucrative living at the expense of unwitting internet users, and how RiskIQ's internet-wide visibility can expose these shadowy operations.

To pivot across the indicators mentioned in this report, be sure to visit the ScamNation Threat Intelligence Card in RiskIQ Community Edition today.

Also, sign up for RiskIQ’s Threat Hunting Summer Camp to hear Co-authors Jordan Herman and Ryan Foote discuss their research and investigation firsthand.

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