Monday, December 31, 2018

Tracking The Illinfrik Botter - Another Farm Burned And Fovihi

With the advent of Alpha accounts in EVE Online, distribution mission botters are basically playing with CCP's money. I've tracked the activities of a botter who likes Thukker loyalty points for about 4 weeks now. The bot farm in Illinfrik was taken down again by CCP on 28 December. This time, I decided to track the new bot farm from the beginning. I even streamed my investigations Saturday and Sunday, if for no other reason than to have a visual record of what I found. I discovered that the botter operates in a system I didn't know about: Fovihi.

When tracking this particular botter, I always use Dotlan to track the activity in a region. Dotlan allows a user to go back and track the number of jumps in a system over a period of time. When I chose the time period from 20 December to 30 December, I find spikes in activity that line up pretty well.

Source: Dotlan Maps
Of course, when I began investigating the creation of the latest bot farm, I had no idea that the botter started with the level 1 agent in Fovihi. I thought he started in Nikh and then just moved his farm one system over to Agha. So I flew an alt to Fovihi and what I saw surprised me. Magnates!

The undock of Fovihi V - Moon 6 - Trust Partners Warehouse
In hindsight, the choice of the Magnate is not surprising. While both the Magnate and the Minmatar Probe both have a base cargo capacity of 400 m3, the Magnate has 4 low slots over the Matari exploration frigate's 3. But either ship has the capacity to carry the required cargo for both level 1 and level 2 missions. So I decided to see just how many Magnate pilots docked and undocked from the station. I counted 19.

I knew I had identified the bot farm when I looked at the information window of each pilot. They were all created on 29 December between 21:02 and 21:12 EVE time. What are the odds that 19 new players would create Minmatar characters in the space of 10 minutes, then all decide they wanted to buy Amarr frigates and do distribution missions in Derelik?

On Sunday afternoon EVE time, I saw that traffic in Nikh had spiked, but that the number of jumps in Fovihi was still elevated. Once more, I logged in to find out what our botting friend was up to. I saw a handful of the suspected bots moving in and out of the system, but not into the Trust Partners station in Fovihi. After a few minutes, I decided to fly to Agha, as I assumed the bots were now programmed to run level 2 distribution missions. Jackpot!

The undock of Agha IX - Moon 6 - Trust Partners Warehouse
I found another character created in the same time span as the rest, so added it to my list. I'm not sure why level 2 distribution missions are sending ships to Fovihi, but that's the only explanation for both what I see and the number of jumps dropping, but not returning to normal. I also managed to get a clean scan of the fit of the ships (see the image above).

What I don't know is whether the botter will keep his farm in Agha and level his standings up to 5 using the Magnates or fly to Rens, purchase Wreathes, and then fly back to Tanoo to do the level 3 missions. The botter has to buy an industrial ship to do the level 4 missions in Illinfrik. The fits I saw used by the last farm CCP banned cost about 6.5 million ISK. I just don't know if the botter will have earned that much on his bots.

Does reporting bots really make a difference if the botter can just create more Alpha accounts and start again? I think so. Since the Team Security dev blog's release on 12 December, the price of ISK has gone up on the secondary (aka black) market sites I follow. For example, in 2 1/2 weeks, the price  of a billion ISK on Player Auctions has increased over 13%. Something is causing a shortage in ISK available for sale, and I know the issue isn't increased sales. But we'll know for sure if some of the bots never come back.

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