Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers uncover online auction fraud

07.12.2006
Computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University are using data mining techniques to identify perpetrators of fraud among online auction users as well as their otherwise unknown accomplices.

The new method analyzes publicly available histories of transactions posted by online auction sites such as eBay and identifies suspicious online behaviors and dubious associations among users.

Online auction sites are immensely popular. The largest, eBay, reported third quarter revenues of $1.449 billion, up 31 percent from the previous year, and registered 212 million users, up 26 percent. But the popularity of online auction sites also makes them a target for crooks. Internet auction fraud, such as failure to deliver goods after a sale, accounted for almost two-thirds of the 97,000 complaints referred to law enforcement agencies last year by the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center.

Perpetrators of these frauds have distinctive online behaviors that cause them to be readily purged from an online auction site, said Computer Science Professor Christos Faloutsos. The software developed by his research team — Network Detection via Propagation of Beliefs, or NetProbe — could prevent future frauds by identifying their accomplices, who can lurk on a site indefinitely and enable new generations of fraudsters.

In a test analysis of about one million transactions between almost 66,000 eBay users, NetProbe correctly detected 10 previously identified perpetrators, as well as more than a dozen probable fraudsters and several dozen apparent accomplices.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that uses a systematic approach to analyze and detect electronic auction frauds," said Faloutsos, who noted that NetProbe could eventually be useful for both law enforcement and security personnel of online sites.

The researchers have already adapted the software to provide a trustworthiness score for individual user IDs. Though not yet available to the public, the NetProbe score would complement user reputation scores that many auction sites already provide to help prevent fraud.

"We want to help people detect potential fraud before the fraud occurs," said research associate Duen Horng "Polo" Chau, who developed NetProbe with Faloutsos, undergraduate student Samuel Wang and graduate student Shashank Pandit.

Many auction sites try to avert fraud with so-called reputation systems. In eBay's case, buyers can report whether they had a positive, neutral or negative experience in a transaction, and that report is then translated into a feedback score for that seller.

Unfortunately, a crook can manipulate these feedback scores, obtaining a favorable score by engaging in a number of legitimate sales. But that is costly and time-consuming and, once the fraudster starts cheating buyers, that user identification is quickly red-flagged and shut down.

Perpetrating frauds may be sustainable, however, if a fraudster has accomplices or sets up separate user IDs to serve as accomplices. These accomplice accounts conduct legitimate transactions and maintain good reputations. They also have many transactions with the user IDs of fraudsters, using their good reputations to boost the fraudsters' feedback scores. Because accomplices don't perpetrate frauds, they usually escape notice and can keep working to establish new fraudster accounts, Faloutsos said.

But an unnatural pattern becomes evident when the transactions are plotted as a graph, with each user represented as a node, or dot, and transactions between individual users represented by lines connecting the nodes.

In the resulting graph, transactions between accomplices and fraudsters create a pattern that sticks out like "a guiding light," Chau said. Graph theorists call this pattern a "bipartite core" — members of one group have lots of transactions with members of a second group, but don't have transactions with members of their own group. One group, the accomplices, also deals with honest eBay users, but most of the transactions are with fraudster groups.

The researchers tested their method, in part, by accumulating transaction histories from eBay and demonstrating that they could detect the distinctive fraud patterns within these massive data sets. Chau reported on an analysis involving about 100 eBay users at a September data mining conference in Berlin. The team has since analyzed about a million transactions between almost 66,000 eBay users, and those as-yet unpublished findings have been submitted for presentation at an upcoming scientific conference.

"Crooks are extremely ingenious," Faloutsos warned, so identifying accomplices would not eliminate all online auction fraud. But eliminating accomplices would force crooks to resort to more sophisticated, complex schemes. "These schemes will require more effort and cost, so fraud would be increasingly unprofitable," he added.

Byron Spice | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cmu.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Information integration and artificial intelligence for better diagnosis and therapy decisions
24.05.2017 | Fraunhofer MEVIS - Institut für Bildgestützte Medizin

nachricht World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world
18.05.2017 | RMIT University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>