Monday, May 15, 2006

This Poker Software Scam is a Real "Hardy Boys" Mystery

Here's the classic way to get a new hole card:

--- from Cassius M. Coolidge's "A Friend in Need," part of the 1903 "Dogs Playing Poker" series

Scammers have it easy in these Internet-driven times. Not only do have they the world as their potential market, but they also have the world as a potential publicity tool, as well. Such is the nature of the web, that a site's success is measured by views and click-throughs, rather than the quality of whatever is being viewed or clicked.

With the proliferation of poker sites, many driven by these same economics, it's a smorgasboard of opportunity for certain poker-themed scam artists. And if it doesn't work once, they can just try it again. Even many of the news-driven sites are nothing more than glorified link farms. Contrast them against the original, quality content you'll find at a site such as the mothership, and you can see that these venues do nothing more than rehash whatever drivel and pap they can find, the better to justify their own existence.

Sites like these are avenues of opportunity for even the most pathetic of scammers, and one of these sites, Poker News Hub, gets a nice juicy raspberry here for their laziness; in their efforts to create links and generate page views, they'll throw any "news" release that mentions the word "poker" into their site, motive of the issuing party be damned. Poker News Hub and its ilk are a dime-a-dozen, necessary-evil type of thing; most of what's here is garbage, but the standard for inclusion here is so low --- or rather, non-existent --- that it's a site ripe for both exploitation and the monitoring of same. There's a quote from a famous science-fiction author that's applicable here; unfortunately, I can't remember the precise author --- it might have been Philip K. Dick --- or the exact wording of the quote. It's something like: "A cow is that object occupying the space which would otherwise be occupied by another cow." If Poker News Hub wasn't there, some other vapid poker mindlessness would occupy the same spot.

Yet PNH is the receptacle, not the disease; our main tale concerns a poker-software scammer just barely savvy enough to figure out a way to publicize his warez, and PNH is here because they seem to be the only one stupid enough to air it to date.

Volunteering as Stupido #2: Your faithful blogger. If only because I enjoy wandering into seedy tenements with a flashlight to watch the cockroaches skitter for the cracks. Therefore, let's shine a light on one of the most recent poker scamroaches to grace the scene...

A few days ago, PNH served up a press release titled as follows: "Poker Cheat Software Corrupting the Honest Player," which they dutifully pulled in from PRWeb, one of those publicity sites where anyone can type in a press release, tag it with a few keyword identifiers, and send it off into the world. The "release" starts off with the di riguer italicized deck...: "The arrival of online poker cheating has changed the way we play forever. But software, card predictors and other nefarious tools are giving some players an unbeatable advantage."

Let's continue into the body of the release:

"Los Angeles,CA (PRWEB) May 10, 2006 - Adam Hardy and his brother Douglas are not surprised. Arguably the foremost leaders in poker software testing, The Hardys’ have taken on a very personal mission to see if there is a mechanical 'edge' that can be gained using software in the ever popular online poker world.

"'Online poker has exploded,' say's Adam in his recent blog. He points out the fact that there are literally hundreds of offers of so-called miracle products that guarantee consistent wins at the tables."

Alright, who the hell is "Adam Hardy and his brother Douglas"? And who beside the person doing the writing of this is arguing that they are "the foremost leaders in poker software testing"? Do a Google search for "'Adam Hardy' + poker," and you'll find nothing except a few threads leading right back to this release.

But you will find the something else if you do that search, an almost identical PRWeb release dating from March 27th:

"The arrival of pokerbot technology has changed the way we play online poker forever. Bot software is giving some players an unbeatable advantage.

"Los Angeles,CA (PRWEB) March 27 2006 - Adam Hardy has tried them all. Arguably the foremost leader in poker software testing, Mr. Hardy has taken on a personal mission to see if there is a mechanical 'edge' that can be gained using software in the ever popular online poker world.

"'Online poker has exploded', say's Adam in his recent blog. He points out the fact that there are literally hundreds of offers of so-called miracle products that guarantee consistent wins at the tables."

Looks like Adam rewrote himself into having a brother between the end of March and mid-May, since no one picked up the release the first time around. (Well, not really: "Douglas" was listed as the contact for the first release.) But bear with me, readers, for this one just gets funnier and funnier. Let's move down in the press release --- either one --- to the next gem:

"'Poker bots and the like can potentially change an online poker players income dramatically,'" [according to "Hardy"]. "Without confirmation if the Hardy brothers use cheat software themselves, he adds 'It’s absolutely insane out there, there is even a brand new product hitting the net that actually lets you change your starting hole cards.'"

My! Being the curious type, I decided to check out the blog mentioned earlier, though this thing even gives blogs a bad name. The blog contains five entries total, two presumably from April 18 and another three from April 20. Interesting, indeed, considering the March 27 version of the press release quotes the same damn blog, yet there's no archive of anything prior to that 3/27 date. Just as a guess, I'd say that "Hardy" deleted and re-posted the entries that you can currently see by checking out that blog.

Now why would he do such a thing? Maybe the most recent of the posts could explain it. Titled "New Poker Cheat Software Changes Hole Cards," it contains, among other wondrosities, the following dreck:

"Someone tipped me off on the latest product that's just now starting to circulate the net. It's software that gives you the god-like power to switch your hole cards.

"Basically meaning you can give yourself pocket aces everytime. Absolutely insane. I don't know how long online casinos can survive when more and more of these cheating products keep coming out.

"I also have no idea how long a product like this can last before it's forced off the web.

"For those brave enough, or for just the plain curious you can try out a free demo here."

And of course, that's linked to the site where one could purchase the software, over at this lovely site:

Oh, wait, haven't I seen this routine in every lame informercial since the advent of cable TV? The ol' "disbeliever becomes the apostolic sycophant" curveball? Geez, even the Magic Bullet dreck does that one better.

But seriously, a product that changes the hole cards and supercedes the 256-bit encryption that marks the Party Poker random-card-generator engine that's mentioned in the ad? Silly. But while you're at if, if you do buy the software and use it, I'd recommend changing your hole cards to say, the ace of spades and another ace of spades. That way, if your opponent has one, too, there'll be three of them in play.

Pardon me while I gasp for breath. Here's one of the lovely scenes from the "demo":

All the program is doing is swapping the card images from the library where those are stored on your computer, when you originally installed the Party Poker client. Nothing more. This rather neatly explains the clause elsewhere on the scam sight that tells you that on occasion you cards will be switched back to their "original" content.

I never had a doubt on that one, either.

If you haven't figured out that "Adam/Douglas Hardy" and the "John Desmore" that owns the CardSwapPro website (and a duplicate web site, CardswapElite are one and the same, then I've got a 12-pack of Pokerbot Pro packages with your name on them. Both the press releases and the domain for the CardSwapPro site emanate from Los Angeles, though we can presume that the names and addresses are fictitious:

Domain Name:

Registrant Contact:
John Desmore
Card Swap Elite
122 BushHill Rd. Apt #204
Los Angeles, CA 4507

Administrative Contact: (same)

Technical Contact: (same)

Billing Contact: (same)

Record created on 2006-03-18 13:54:10.
Record expires on 2007-03-18 13:54:10.

Note that the record was created on March 18th, just days before the first version of the press release that none of the poker-newsie sites picked up on. (Another coincidence, certainly.) Also note that there seems to be some connection between this scammer and the David Glazen/Ken Chan persona that's behind Pokerbot Pro, and you can read a little bit more about that one here. Your blogger offers no opinion on whether any of the names mentioned in these releases are genuine; rather, we're only relaying identity information found elsewhere on the web. As with other forms of scanning and spamming, this type of identity obfuscation is par for the course.

One opinion is offered here with certainty, however: CardSwapPro/CardSwapElite is a scam of the first order. Not only does it not work, it's not supposed to work; a quick glance at the disclaimer says volumes more about the software and its author/seller than any artificial claim ever could.


TenMile said...

The reader gave me three super good posts. Enjoyed them.

Lou Krieger said...

Their disclaimer says, " ... all items ... are strictly for "Personal Novelty And Entertainment Purposes Only."

I always thought of "Personal Novelty Item" as a euphemism for a whoopee cushion.

I guess in this case, they're one and the same.

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