BidStick.com is just one of a few penny auction sites that have been open well over 2 years now. However, it’s definitely a penny auction site that leaves us asking questions.
Reserves & Children in Africa
1. First, way back in August of 2009, we posted about how BidStick stated that they had reserve penny auctions on their site, and that they sponsored children in Africa. This post yielded comments from disappointed bidders who had told us they had been waiting weeks for items from the penny auction site.
Millions from Diamonds?
2. Then, there was that time in October, when we found the press release claiming that BidStick was in the final stages of acquiring $5 million private equity financing from the Diamond Institute of America. I just sent them an e-mail now – though it’s been two years, the DIA should’ve been contacted back in ’09 to confirm this information.
3. Later, in January of last year, we found out from a past bidder of BidStick, that BidStick allegedly admitted to using bidding bots, as a “reserve system.”
We also found two positive comments that were from users who claimed to have good experiences with BidStick’s penny auctions. These comments were left by two different usernames, yet both posters shared the same IP address.
Shared IP Addresses
4. Also, there were 4 others who shared the same IP address when they posted about Bidstick.com and talked about their experiences in our forum:
5. It wasn’t even a week later until we found out that they were allegedly “blackmailing” a Penny Auction Watch forum member, the user told us that the owner of BidStick would not ship any of the user’s won items until we would remove the comments that this user posted in the forum. The comments left by the bidder merely told of the bidder’s experience on the penny auction site.
We also found what looked to have been BidStick video testimonials starring minors. The videos have since been removed from YouTube.
A Penny Auction “Investigator?”
6. Then came Penny Auction Investigator in June of ’10.
This investigator has all sorts of good things to say about BidStick and of course, bashes us. I definitely believe that PennyAuctionInvestigator.com is ran by the same folks, or guy, that runs BidStick.com. *Click on the URL to read what I found out which leads me to believe this.* In short:’
7. Bet you didn’t even see this one coming. BidStick began selling real live mammals and it wasn’t even April 1st. At least they advertised that they did, we observed users bidding: “BidStick.com – Selling Marmoset at huge discounts.”
Did BidStick ever sell a real, live, breathing Marmoset to anyone? Did they even hold a license with the USDA to do so?
This now brings us to recent comments from a few? (seemingly) movie casting aficionados.
1. Take a look – these are from the backend of our comments section:
So, the bottom two comments come from users posting from the same ISP, (11/2/2010: 220.127.116.11 & 5/17/2010: 18.104.22.168) and all three “reviewers” use a first and last name. But what about the e-mail addresses they use? The two with the same ISP pointing to Florida, as you can see, share the same e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Johnson, on the other hand, posts from an IP originating out of Medellin, Columbia. (22.214.171.124) Look at her e-mail address. MovieCasting2003@yahoo.com. Her comment came in last night after a comment from a user who claims to have been waiting 7 weeks for her won items with lack of response from the penny auction site.
What does movie casting & Super Mario have to do with BidStick – a penny auction site?
2. MovieCasting2003 + Google =
A comment was left on the website http://www.online-game-walkthrough.com/2008/06/sony-announces-in-game-advertising.html by a user named moviecasting2003, the comment linked Super Mario to the website GameJokers.com.
So, on a hunch…
A brief whois check of both GameJokers.com & BidStick.com shows that both sites are hosted with the same web host. Plus – both domains were purchased from the same registrar. But there wasn’t enough information… yet.
3. GameJokers’ source code
BidStick’s source code tells us that BidStick.com’s (the penny auction site) Google Analytics account ID is also UA-10088100.
Now, just in case you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free program for webmasters that lets site owners do all sorts of cool stuff. They can see how many people visited their website, how they found it, where they came from, as well as a site’s bounce rate – what percent of users closed the site as soon as they came to it. It also shows how many clicks went to a certain targeted “campaign” URL to see how effective advertising is, and a few other things.
The code right after the UA-xxxxxx- in this case 10088100, is for a particular Google Analytics user. The trailing number is a site specific identifier. Based on this information I think it’s safe to suggest that both websites, the penny auction site and the game site, are using the same Google Analytics account.
But there’s more…
5. Let’s go back and take a look at who owns the GameJokers.com domain name:
The domain is registered to someone with the email address email@example.com.
A search of that e-mail address points to BidStick.com as well:
Also see this Google cached entry for the full whois info on Bidstick, (expand/show whois on the bottom).
Back to the investigator. The Penny Auction Investigator = BidStick?
When we search the Google Analytics code for BidStick it brings us to a page with info on other sites that are also in the same Analytics account. Guess what? PennyAuctionInvestigator.com shares accounts with BidStick:
From Penny Auction Investigator’s description:
“Penny Auction Investigator – Penny Auction Scam – Penny Auction Sites
Trusted Auction Researchers Providing Consumers With An Unbiased Report On All Online Auctions Industry. Call US 24 / 7 to report incident now. Auction fraud protection and research service. Auction reviews, information and news. List of top rated sites and a penny auction directory. We write about online auction scams, shill bidding, fraud, and other online auction industry news”
What do you think is going on here?
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Photo Credits: Stephen Pof – Shocked guy – The rest are screenshots.
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