Haley's Poker Blog

No bad beats, but still a poker blog... hence the anguish.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Call For Help --- Major Site Scraper on the Loose

Okay, I've uncovered a large site scraping operation that's stealing from all of us. I'm starting to chip away at this bastard --- I believe he's already lost two of his three affiliate contracts directly due to my efforts, and I had him knocked completely off the web for about 48 hours early this week. But he's working through a black-hat Montreal service provider, and his domains, as one would naturally expect, are secured behind the nasty wall provided by DomainsByProxy.

Now, for more details on this thief, and why you should care enough to help. If you're providing paid contact to a site or have a major poker blog of your own, then this guy is likely stealing from you. Near as I can figure, he's tapping everyone offering blog-style poker content through an RSS or XML feed, with special attention to paid news sites such as gamblingtimes.com, wire feeds and the like, but hey, those are paying outlets for any of us writing about poker, too. Just among the personal blogs I've noticed hit, in a very quick check, are:

Texas Calculatum and Poker Office Blog
The Surly Poker Gnome
Special K's Place
Linda Geenen --- Poker Works (Table Tango)
Maigrey --- The Poker Princess
Performify's Poker Page

And that's just a quick glance at two of the more that 180 bogus blogs set up on this site. Any bets on whether your work is out here somewhere? Of course, the thief really goes to town on poker news sites, including pokernews.com, gambling911.com, gamblingtimes.com, RGP, and dozens more.

Okay, now that I've got your interest, I'll tell you about the operation. I believe the thief to be Quebec-based, as he currently is receiving services through Montreal-based MTOTelecom. The IP address is 208.66.69.199, and there are at least six domains involved:

www.blogs-partypoker.com
www.blogs-everestpoker.com
www.blogs-pacificpoker.com
www.poker-blogging.com
www.gambling-blogger.com
www.blogs-gambling.com

As you may well have guessed, the thief has set up affiliate deals with Party, Pacific and Everest, though I can confirm that not only are two of the three sites already investigating this matter, one has already confirmed terminating its affiliate relationship with this thief.

Our little scraper buddy has set up each of these interlocking sites in a way that makes it seem as though it's a work in progress, but his real goal is to siphon web hits and possible affiliate signups from their rightful owners, be they large sites or small.

Sure, I have no problem publishing the thief's affiliate codes; they are easy enough to see:

Pacific: 325419
Party: 2750517
Everest: U13Y4Y

By the way, if you think I'm exaggerating about the amount of traffic this guy is swiping, then feast your eyes on this:



His traffic totals are climbing steadily, huh? And that's just for one of the six domains; tgis is actually one of the smaller ones.

I am working on several avenues to not only bring this bastard down, but to expose his true identity so we know who it is and can mark him for future watch and/or litigation. But I need your help.

I need those of you who care to do some text-string searches on your recent work, and see if this guy has scraped your content as well. If he has, and if you're interested in helping, then please send me the following:

1) Your original content (URL);
2) The URL for where this mega-asshat has put up his stolen copy;
3) A screen-grab of the stolen content, including the URL at the top, just so he doesn't try to disappear some of this stuff.

You'll also need to know one more thing about this guy's setup. The six main pages as listed above don't really have much content, but it's by scrolling down to the bottom and checking the links numbered 1-30 that things get interesting. Each of the six domains has its own collection of 30 internal psuedo-blogs linked to in this way, and its within these faked blogs that the scraped content appears.

Please, if you have access to anyone that you recognize is being swiped, feel free to spread the word. There are several avenues we can use to tear down this monstrosity, and rest assured, I'm working my way into all of them. Others should do so as well, particularly those of you living in Canada or affiliated directly with a Canadian enterprise being damaged by this thief.

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