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Police in Thailand bust huge click farm

14 June 2017

More than 500 cellphones and 350,000 SIM cards were seized and three Chinese workers were arrested at a rented house in Thailand which served as a click farm.

The Bangkok Post reported that a Chinese company gave the men 150,000 baht ($4,403) along with the phones to pull off the operation for a month. The men told the police they were operating to boost engagement for Chinese products sold in Thailand due to the low mobile phone fees as they generated "fake" page views, likes, and shares through the social media app WeChat.

Click farms, where low-paid workers get paid to spend their days clicking on content had become a worldwide problem. At times these farms are rooms with hundreds if not thousands of phones, all ready for when a company paid for traffic.

Click farms being extremely adaptable, can be used by companies for everything from acquisition of LinkedIn connections to making themselves look better on the job market. The farms also made millions doing so.

According to one of the police officers involved, the men would probably be deported back to China, rather than face any time behind bars, the Nigerian newspaper, The Nation reported.

This was not the first click farm to be busted and only last month, a massive click farm with over 10,000 phones was discovered in China.

Immigration police captain, Itthikorn Atthanark said the men explained they were paid according to how many likes and views they generated, each earning $2,950-$4,400 per month, New York Post reported.

WeChat, China's most prominent online social media platform, incorporates a text-messaging service as also marketing for online stores.

The operations were being conducted from a house in Sa Kaeo province, about 120 miles east of Bangkok. The men, identified as Wang Dong, Niu Bang and Ni Wenjin, were charged with working without a permit and importing the phones without paying taxes.

According to Itthikorn, the arrests followed a police stakeout at the Sa Kaeo house after receiving reports of suspicious activity. He added, a police search Monday at another residence believed to be engaged in the same activity came up empty-handed, though police believed others connected with the business were still at large.

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