Resource networks of pet scam websites

Benjamin Price, Matthew Edwards

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

1 Citation (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


The pet scam is a form of online fraud in which scammers leverage victims' emotional attachment to fictitious pets as a means for extorting money. Both fraudulent pet seller sites and fraudulent delivery sites are involved in the scam. When sites of either kind are taken down, scammers create new sites, often reusing effective content from previous scams. We explore connections within the largest current collection of pet scam websites, examining four distinct types of resource sharing that are indicative of shared authorship. We find that 90% of all accessible sites share at least one form of connection to another known site, including many identifiable links between seller and delivery sites, and that some scam authors could be behind hundreds of individual scam websites. We partially validate our linkage methods using domain registration data, and discuss the implications of using different connection types to analyse online fraud more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research (eCrime)
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-6654-2539-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-6654-3084-5
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2020
Event2020 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research (eCrime) -
Duration: 16 Nov 202019 Nov 2020

Publication series

ISSN (Print)2159-1237
ISSN (Electronic)2159-1245


Conference2020 APWG Symposium on Electronic Crime Research (eCrime)

Structured keywords

  • Cyber Security


  • online fraud
  • pet scam
  • clustering
  • link analysis


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