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Thai clickfarm using 474 iPhones gets thumbs-down from police

Three Chinese men used hundreds of phones and nearly 350,000 SIM cards to operate a vast network of bot accounts on WeChat, according to reports.

9 Speed News/TNAMCOT YouTube screenshot by Daniel Van Boom/CNET

Social media is big business, so likes and shares can be very valuable. That, of course, means there's a market for fake likes and shares. 

Three Chinese men were found to be running a complex social media operation in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reports, that involved 474 iPhones and just under 350,000 unused Thai SIM cards. 

Wang Dong, Niu Bang and Ni Wenjin were generating fake page views, likes and shares on WeChat, a platform which has more than 900 million monthly active users. The men said a company in China supplied the phones and paid them 150,000 baht a month (about $4,400, AU$5,800, £3,500) for the operation, according to Immigration Chief of Sa Kaeo, Pol Col Benjaphol Rodsawasdi.

The trio reportedly used Thailand as a base because of the cheaper phone coverage fees. They were arrested at two rented houses near the Cambodian border. Thai police are investigating how the men brought so many mobile phones into Thailand and acquired the SIM cards from local service providers.