Ad Scammers Need Suckers, and Facebook Helps Find Them

“They go out and find the morons for me.” That's the money quote from this amazing Bloomberg piece (by the improbably named Zeke Faux) about how disreputable marketers use Facebook to hawk boner pills, diet scams and a bunch of other junk. Imagine if we ever heard this kind of multimillion-dollar success story from, say, a publisher, rather than someone selling "brain boosters":

Granted anonymity, affiliates were happy to detail their tricks. They told me that Facebook had revolutionized scamming. The company built tools with its trove of user data that made it the go-to platform for big brands. Affiliates hijacked them. Facebook’s targeting algorithm is so powerful, they said, they don’t need to identify suckers themselves—Facebook does it automatically. And they boasted that Russia’s dezinformatsiya agents were using tactics their community had pioneered.
When I asked who was at the heart of this game, someone who could explain how the pieces fit together, the affiliates kept nominating the same person. He was a Pole who’d started out as an affiliate himself, they said, before creating a software program called Voluum—an indispensable tool they all use to track their campaigns, defeat the ad networks’ token defenses, and make their fortunes. His name was Robert Gryn.


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