Episode two of the SEON podcast features the Ada Lovelace duo. Two bonus abuse fraudsters turned consultants. Here’s what they had to say.
Bonus abuse is a lucrative business. So much so that the pair of fraudsters who operate under the alias Ada Lovelace, managed to quit their jobs a few years ago, and turned their schemes into full-time jobs.
But these days, the former fraudsters have switched over to the good side. In fact, they regularly consult with fraud managers and gambling operators on how to stop bonus abuse.
And in an enlightening interview for the SEON podcast, they shared some of these words of advice with us. We highly recommend you listen to the full recording for a better understanding of the inner workings of bonus abuse, but here are 5 key takeaways:
#1 Easy multi-accounting used to bring the most money
If you’re an operator who has yet to take preventive measures against multi accounting, take note. Ada Lovelace is confident it’s what used to lead to their biggest wins, and the online casinos’ biggest losses.
“Being able to create a duplicate account, it’s the best thing to exploit a welcome offer from an operator. If you can do that an indefinite amount of times with the same identity then, essentially, you can print money. This is something that we used to test for, and that would be the best exploit we could find in terms of value.”
But even if the days of creating multiple accounts without KYC are over, the duo still finds it hard to believe how much the bonus abuse community still thrives today. “For me the craziest thing is how exploitable the industry has been, and for a large part still is,” one of the former fraudsters continued.
#2 Bonus abuse is changing
While there are still enough exploits to find for fraudsters, one thing is undeniable: the bonus abuse landscape has changed dramatically over the last five years. And no, it’s not because of fraud prevention companies.
“Five or six years ago, bonus abuse was through the roof. And you can still make today but it’s in smaller chunks. I think that’s mainly due to two main things: very large syndicates of hundreds of thousands of accounts which are all hitting the offers like a factory. And of course the bonus taxes they introduced a year or two ago.”
The game is also becoming riskier for bonus abusers. Confiscation (where the account is suspended and all winnings are taken away), is always looming, especially if independent fraudsters happen to be targeting the same offers as the big syndicates. Those big operations tend to follow the same pattern, and move on to another exploit once they’ve been found out.
Another reason bonus abuse is changing: the COVID-19 crisis. As more and more people are forced to stay at home, often with fewer job prospects, we can expect the bonus abuse rates to explode, especially for online casinos. The bonus abuse community has made a big push towards these kinds of operators lately, with specific launches designed to help those who knew more about sports abuse, and help them target casinos.
#3 But it’s still a full-time job to defraud operators
In order for bonus abuse to be profitable, fraudsters have to be methodical, organized, and some might even say professional:
“For me it was basically a job. I had an office, I had staff working for me, they worked with all those targets. It’s not as glamorous as you might think, it’s like any other job I suppose. So my job was managing the identities, testing the sites for the exploits and dealing with operator disputes, and I’d have people who’d do the spinning and betting.”
The pair of former fraudsters who operate under the name Ada Lovelace met on a forum dedicated to testing sites for exploits. This is an important point, similar to what we learned from our interview with Jaqueline Hart of Patreon: fraudsters benefit from a large network to share ideas and techniques – something fraud managers do not always have.
#4 Fraudsters know the law
Ada Lovelace made it very clear that they always attempted to operate within the boundaries of the law, even if they favour grey areas.
“Matched betting bonus abuse is completely legal. Many operators have stated the same. Part of what falls into a grey area is betting on behalf of your friends and family etc.., betting on behalf of other people. It’s always done, in our case, with their permission. It’s a grey area as it’s never been tested in court. But there’s a darker side, with people who steal identities and that’s clear cut. But that was never the game we were into.”
The duo even goes as far as mentioning that they ask for legal advice in order to understand what is UK civil or common law. And while the same can’t be said of all fraudsters, it’s certainly interesting to know that they cover themselves in case of a legal case.
#5 Their advice to fraud managers
When consulting with online casinos and gambling operators, Ada Lovelace finds that fraud managers are generally knowledgeable enough. They understand why fraudsters attack, but often struggle to find solutions because of poor risk tech, CRM tools or structural obstacles within the organization.
So what should fraud managers do? Try bonus abuse themselves:Identification is very much retrospective and the only way to change that is to get your hands dirty. So I actually recommend fraud managers give bonus abuse a go. See first hand what the trends and behaviours are. Click To Tweet
The advice continues, specifically for online casino owners:
“[fraud managers] only tackle the one specific thing. So if they’re being hit heavily on one particular slot, for example, they’ll take action against that one slot without knowing there are another 20 other slots on the site that can do exactly the same thing and bonus abusers will very quickly figure that out.”
One of the goals of the Cat & Mouse podcast was always to hear both sides of the story. And talking to Ada Lovelace certainly delivered when it comes to understanding fraudsters’ frame of mind.
Once again, we highly recommend you listen to the full episode, but if there’s one thing fraud managers should take away from the interview, it’s probably that everyone – fraudsters included – know that they lack the right resources to do their job properly.
And at SEON, it’s our mission to make things easier for fraud and risk managers – whether it’s in building effective and intuitive fraud prevention tools, gathering insights on our private LinkedIn group, or continuing to interview experts in the field for the Cat & Mouse podcast.
Learn more about our products
Jimmy is the CCO of SEON and brings his in-depth experience of fraud-fighting to assist fraud teams everywhere.