The Virtual Phone Farms Scammers Use To Set Up Fake Accounts

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: When a scammer wants to set up an account on Amazon, Discord, or a spread of other online services, sometimes a thing that stands in their way is SMS verification. The site will require them to enter a phone number to receive a text message which they'll then need to input back into the site. Sites often do this to prevent people from making fraudulent accounts in bulk. But fraudsters can turn to large scale, automated services to lease them phone numbers for less than a cent. One of those is 5SIM, a website that members of the video game cheating community mention as a way to fulfill the request for SMS verification. Various YouTube videos uploaded by the company explain how people can use its service explicitly for getting through the SMS verification stage of various sites. The videos include instructions specifically on PayPal, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, and dating site Plenty of Fish. Instagram told Motherboard it is concerned by sites that suggest people can use services to bypass Instagram's measures to then abuse the platform. Instagram said it uses SMS verification to prevent the creation of fake accounts and to make account recovery possible. "We have many measures in place to protect against scripted account creation and block millions of fake accounts at registration every day," an Instagram spokesperson said. Some online services don't allow users to perform SMS verification with VoIP numbers, presumably in an effort to mitigate against fraud. 5SIM's numbers, however, are just like ordinary phone numbers, the site claims. When people buy 5SIM's services, they must only use it for receiving texts related to an online account. "Different SMS will [be] rejected," the website adds. 5SIM also offers an API to automate parts of the service. 5SIM's rules say that customers are "Forbidden to use the service for any illegal purposes as well as not to take actions that harm the service and (or) third parties." The website also includes a denylist of words that its service may block. In an email to Motherboard, 5SIM said: "5sim service is prohibited to use for illegal purposes. In cases, where fraudulent operations with registered accounts are detected, restrictions may be imposed on the 5sim account until the circumstances are clarified. 5sim is used by those who want to get a discount or bonus, webmasters, SMM specialists, owners of business for advertising and increasing business loyalty."

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