Niantic is unable to detect / doesn't care about spoofing

#10763512 #10764093 #10764048 #10763995

Spoofed while someone was physically present at the location, no places to hide, 4 different accounts over 5 minutes. With all the corresponding information, Support was unable to reach the same conclusion either because they don't care or are actually unable to confirm spoofing when not done at the speed of sound.

Seeming as these issues actually get more traction when reported on the forums than the support app, here we are. We changed the Store ratings to a higher one after the launch of Prime even though it did not deserve it, because it was scaring potential new users and killing the app. We purchased items in the in-game Store to support the app, because we were told some profit must be made for the app to survive.

With the upcoming launch of the subscription, we do have to ask ourselves if new features are really worth the continued neglect of spoofers, and are you willing to continue paying for it? I can understand that all spoofers can't be caught before doing damage, but no action is taken when a scumbag at a desk just dunks on all you do outside, and the lack of consequences encourages others to take that route, too.

If you just enjoy the walks outside for a couple of fields and spoofers don't affect you in any way, you are fortunate. But if you ever want the fair competitive play, the ignorance needs to stop.



  • Ilya95Ilya95 ✭✭✭

    But we've finally found the purpose of the Ingress Forum :) It seems like the forum topics initiation is the only way to encourage support to investigate your case.

    From my experience the report tickets are not closed when the spoofer is banned after the topic resolving. So maybe local Niantic representatives don't have access to them. So it's better to include more info from the report here, such as spoofer names and period of their activity + timezone.

  • This has been a problem from the beginning. What players do affects the play of others much more than any other location based game. Therefore, spoofing also has more disadvantages to other players and benefits to spoofer.

    In newer Niantick games, this problem is much less. I don’t understand why ingres ’game mechanics aren’t changed the same way. They can't do anything about spoofing. It’s just too easy and too hard to control

  • They have tried to change it with the crossfaction challenges but were met by a wall of people requesting more competitive play (which unfortunately is the heart and sould of the game, since you usually cannot play in an area that is dominated by your faction). The game is great, but some of the people playing it not so much.

  • Congratulations Niantic! Our local cheater reached level 16 with his most active spoofaccount! 🎉

    2 years ago he created his first wave of spoofing accounts (that we knew of) - the first ones were banned pretty quickly, but he found out what kind of behavior to avoid in order to not get caught by NiaOPS. After 6 long months of struggle we finally managed to get him banned with the help of a trusted reporter.

    Now the trusted reporter program has changed, there is no direct contact anymore. I had a TR say to me that I have to give them proof of the account jumping impossible distances - but every idiot knows that this exactly is to be avoided if you don't want to get banned.

    Since Corona quarantine started, our cheater created his second wave of spoofing accounts of which his most active reached level 16 yesterday. He is terrorising only our suburb - a few square kilometers, he is only doing things to harm/annoy us, only destroying our home portals, our fields, and building up his own homezone. We know exactly which person is behind all this, he has an own "legit" player account and 3 additional family accounts (of course his kindergarten kids know how to play this game, right? and only if they are at home or in the car). We have sent photo proof, videos, COMM logs, movement trajectories, links to the websites of closed/locked areas, we have at least 12 different players who were able to catch him spoofing red-handed (being at the same location as him, for several times) from both factions. Still nothing. Thank you Niantic for spoiling the remaining fun that Ingress prime still had. You will probably lose 8 active and legit players.

    (report IDs from me only for the second spoofer wave only: #6664855 #7039352 #7052744 #7085298 #7625025 #7693244 #7721885 #7795816 #7898254 #7966239 #9555817 #9630513 #9925424 #10519363)

  • I'm sad, but not surprised to hear this is a widespread problem. I did not submit any reports for 'suspicious' activity, I was standing at the portal in question when resonators started appearing exactly from where I was standing with nobody near, which is also where the XM gap appeared ( I was using a Lawson at the time). Apparently having a legit location data set is not enough to differentiate the spoofing, even if done with 4 separate accounts and a 1 minute break between each one (wonder why..)

    After taking it down, the idiots even deployed a couple of resonators again by reflex before realizing and stopping. If this does not result in any consequences, I can't even imagine how many other instances slip through and how many others will start doing it after seeing how easy it is to get away with.

  • Ok, let's change nothing, now is good?

    People who sell portal destruction services, keys, L16 user accounts etc. earn more than Ingres programmers. The bots of the same peoples systematically collect information movements of all the players and sell this on. But no, nothing should be changed, it would destroy Ingress 😂

  • Ok, let's hear your suggestions on what changes you think will prevent spoofing and still keep Ingress "Ingress"

  • HydracyanHydracyan ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    The current cycle (and next ones) of my cell has been just just killed by one spoofer that not just destroyed an important anchor, but also created links blocking it to be used by any faction. This just make an entire faction to yeald from the score. For the first time in the year the top 3 have only Resistance agents. It would be really easy for 2 enl agents flip this score and win back, but I know them because I'm former enl (one of the reason the res is winning is my help plus lack of destroyer) and I know they're just heading back from playing. Some of the player don't even try to play against the cheaters because is not worth the effort wasted. But some take any opportunities as advantage and are proud of "winning".

    Because this one cheater, and the ones who took advantage and threw link blocks, the score will be fliped for the following cycles. But we are already used to this at every anniversary week and December when the kids are free from schools. This year the first 5 cycles were won by res because a spoofer and consequences of his actions. After his ban and portals restored enl team managed to win until now.

    Now the turn tables 🤔

  • You still don't understand that spoofing can't be prevented with current technology? The idea is to change the game mechanics so that by spoofing you don't get to ruin the game of others completely or you have to spoof that you can play at all. For example

    -the fieldsand links would not last forever even if charged

    -points, fame, and glory would come from making the field and capture portals, not from keeping fiels alive forever

    -personal score table which would count more than MUs

    -erase the entire map at certain intervals, as well as keys and other items

    -fields inside fields and links over links?

    I am quite sure that more experienced players would have some good ideas for the development of the game in the right direction.

  • MirthmakerMirthmaker ✭✭✭✭

    Trying to do that on a phone is user unfriendly at best, and impossible a lot of the time.

    To get the links copied and pasted when you are out in the field and you see something that is a dead giveaway that a spoofer is working needs help.

    What I'd like to see is a static form where a copy/paste with agent, time, portal name, portal link can be cobbled together without having to jump through 88 hoops, a cranky phone and link system that makes you throw up your hands in disgust, and then link that to a ticket request.

    The way it works now is not cutting it. Interactive real-time when out in the field needs a static way to gather the data needed in a less user-unfriendly manner. Can we have it so that time stamp from previous day isn't masked as yesterday only because in high activity areas scrolling is user unfriendly as is? Only after twenty- four hours should it revert to day of action. Otherwise spoofbot could be out at 11pm local time and get away with more than they do already.

  • "Can we have it so that time stamp from previous day isn't masked as yesterday only"

    This is kind of fun, you do not get that information from Ingress, but a third-party database you will find it 😀

  • aaronviannoaaronvianno ✭✭✭✭

    I think it's time Ingress added badge requirements for levels 7 & 8 too. A few silvers and minimum number of bronze should do the trick. One look at a suicide account and you'll know what I'm talking about. With the Apex around it's honestly worse now.

    As suggested by @JukkaJuu game changes to reduce the payoff from spoofing can help to some extent while not changing the essence of Ingress. And for anyone against such changes, remember Ingress started out as a 1 faction game and with barely a 10th of the features it has now.

    Intel usage & request monitoring should also be applied. See who made requests to see a portal in the last 2 weeks and help tie the main accounts to the owners.

    Limit intel panning and zooming for accounts below a certain age & level.

    Bring back verification. If dating apps can, why can't Ingress? Especially since players are expected to engage with each other in the real world.

  • HydracyanHydracyan ✭✭✭✭✭

    Just shortening the link length even more, by level, will prevent a lot of blocks made by spoofer accounts.

  • GrogyanGrogyan ✭✭✭✭✭

    @aaronvianno verification would not work, as it is easily circumvented.

    Preventing players of lower levels from linking long distances prevents those new players from continuing with the game in the long term.

    Requiring badges is easily done by spoofers.

    Every method suggested, and what Niantic appear to use is an open loop detection method. Which can only do so much.

    Only a TFLA will prevent spoofing. And utilise Vanguards for portals that require special gear. The latter is not required for Catan, Wizards Unite and Pokémon GO as they are designed for urban play where cellular communication is available.

  • I'm pretty sure one could distinguish a spoofer from a legit player if someone from NiaOPS actually took the time to look into an account's movement trajectory. Our spoofer moves through buildings, over train rails, back and forth over a busy 4-lane street, jumps over fences and still nothing happens. There should be a trust system within ingress so that a real person goes through the reports and not only an algorithm if enough trustworthy players reported a certain account.

    I know that there is always the risk of false-positives but I think these rare cases can be resolved if the player concerned files a protest against his ban. I don't think a spoofer would do that because he knows he's done sth wrong.

  • gazzas89gazzas89 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yeah, we have someone like that i our cell too, well we have 2 suspected spoofers, but ones hasn't done anything too obvious, hes spoofing well enough that no one can prove it. The other spoofer though has spoofed to impossible to reach portals (it was in a hotel garden that can't be reached unless in the hotel, so unless this person paid 200 pounds to gain access, he spoofed) so it should have been easy for niantic to get him, but as far as I know niaops has not been involved at all

  • HydracyanHydracyan ✭✭✭✭✭

    Requiring selfie upload at location is an option. Just like portal scan, being able to take the picture at location and upload later. But that might also be hacked, to make people take pictures previously and sent later, but at least they were at the location. I suggested before something like a locker, to be manually placed at some portals, the unlocking method could be submitting a portal scan or selfie as proof the agent is at location.

    Once portal scan became something useful, the 3d object can be used for the unlocking method, making the players to scan it for the "key".

  • " impossible to reach portals"

    why are there even such portals in the game? Spoofers can take over them and make fields to prevent other play, but no one honestly can break them ???

  • HydracyanHydracyan ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    If someone created, they're not impossible.

    But Niantic could used their stored data to evaluate which are the hard access portals and put limitations on their access (maybe make them subscribers only). Portals that aren't in urban are and with low access.

  • @Hydraulinski "If someone created, they're not impossible."

    Unless this "someone" is a spoofer

  • gazzas89gazzas89 ✭✭✭✭✭

    When I say impossible to reach, I mean impossible to reach if you don't pay 200 pounds to stay at the hotel. Every impossible to reach portal is actually reachable by someone. On this occasion though, the portal couldn't be reached from the street, inly inside the hotel, and given that we are in a pandemic, the hotel wouldn't have let people wander in lol

  • GrogyanGrogyan ✭✭✭✭✭
  • ArtilectZedArtilectZed ✭✭✭✭✭

    Try to remember: Users have far more control over their devices than Niantic can ever hope to have. They're in a constant war with cheats and cheat developers. Sometimes they need to hold back on pulling the ban hammer trigger to try to gather more data, or capture more spoofers. The people who make the decision to pull that trigger do not have the ability to see what you've experienced for themselves, only the reports and the games database to research with.

    They have a problem that is not fun for anyone, and I'm sure they spend way more time dealing with cheats than they want to, and by the nature of the game, will be impossible to truly stamp out forever. It's an arms race.

    You'll have to come to peace with it at some point. Report it when you see it, give them more data points to look for, and hope for the best. Otherwise, you'll come to hate the game, and stop playing it completely.

  • TheKingEngineTheKingEngine ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 2020

    plus ab.users could control the result of OPR with numerous sub-accounts. There is an OPR group here in Shanghai proactively give high ratings on specific submission of portals on obvious wrong locations so that they could create portals that only spoofers could easily control...I wouldn't say that it's an ENL players abu.sing team but almost 100% portals they approved unreasonably are controlled by some ENL accounts.

    ..and simultaneously those portals are difficult to be removed. As the No.1 invalid portal remover among players in China on Wayfarer forum you can trust me that even I'm professional at reporting invalid portals...they are still difficult to be removed

    Post edited by TheKingEngine on
  • TheKingEngineTheKingEngine ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes. But that requires expense in terms of man-days which is expensive from Niantic's perspective.

    Professional spoofers are relying on optimized GPX route files so that not only Niantic anti-spoofing system could not identify the violation but also general customer support staff could not make sure whether that relevant player is spoofing if not taking a deep look into it with the help of a bunch of materials provided by other players, which is not possible though the general reporting channel.

    My idea is given the fact that there is OPR Live (although not being sold for quite a long time) I'd like Niantic to launch a "Cheaters Examining Live" whereby we could pay to have someone from Niantic to do a careful, thorough review on the nature of actions of specific suspicious players.

    Now that we pay for it. At least Niantic has some reasons and motivations to do something for us...

  • TheKingEngineTheKingEngine ✭✭✭✭✭

    Exactly. Basically TR is for killing very dumb spoofing accounts...or arrogant spoofers who do not even want to hide their violations...

    However technically speaking, probably in the eyes of Niantic, if a spoofer is trying its best to act like a real player...then it's a real player in terms of revenue and operation cost. Players are suffering but as the entire gaming environment is not destroyed completely...which makes them not interested in fighting against cheating...unless spoofers start to sell items which hinders Ingress in-app store

  • The environment is not destroyed completely? Legit players are leaving = less revenue, others start spoofing because it's not punished = more legit players leaving. When it's all done, spoofers won't play or pay against other spoofers.

    You want a subscription, take the appropriate measures on reports first. No more security through obscurity ****, your cheating detection methods are obviously lacking. It's ignorance through obscurity, just hiding it under the carpet and hope others don't notice.

    Prime was to come with new servers, improved security, no cheating - bullsh1t. We will not be taking it anymore, if you want those user ratings increased how about you actually work for it.

  • Qu4rdQu4rd ✭✭✭

    But you're also abusing the forum filter to get through your comments quickly by typing ab.use?

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