Bogus Bidders: Bots and Shills

Some dishonest auction sites use bid bots, which are computer programs that automatically bid on behalf of the website. And some fraudulent sites achieve the same effect using human shills.

You may be seconds away from winning an auction when another user places a bid. That keeps the clock ticking, and forces you into a bidding war to stay in first place.

Though the bidder appears to be another user, it may be a shill, or a bot programmed by the website to extend the auction and keep people bidding (and spending money) as they chase the “win.”

-FTC on penny auction autobidding bots (

Earlier this month (possibly the last few days of December 2012), Blue Bird Bids pulled down their penny auctions citing the need for “maintenance”, “rigorous testing” and “behind the scenes structural changes” be carried out.

Once the auctions were down, Blue Bird Bids stated that the required maintenance would occur over ‘the next 72 hours or so‘ and that they would have ‘all functions back and running no later than Tuesday Jan 8th or Wednesday Jan 9th‘.

Well over 72 hours after this announcement was made the Blue Bird Bids penny auctions are still down, however that’s not to say things haven’t been happening behind the scenes…

On January the 5th 2013 the domain “DevBlueBirdBids” (“”) was registered and currently displays what appears to be a test version of the Blue Bird Bids auction website:


The site isn’t running any actual auctions and appears to have been hastily uploaded as it isn’t properly branded (running a Quibids template) and for the most part looks to be a default install of the “Penny Auction Wizards” penny auction script.


For reasons unknown, the domain registration for the DevBlueBirdBids website is set to private. However, with “dev” being short for “developer”, the Blue Bird Bids auction website being down and complete lack of motivation for a third-party to put up a website imitating the Blue Bird Bids auctions, I’d strongly suspect the domain is being used as a live test site for Blue Bird Bids itself.

What exactly they’re testing though I’m not sure.

Meanwhile the revelation that Blue Bird Bids is running on the Penny Auction Wizards auction script does shed some potential light on an article I penned a few days ago.

Late last year Blue Bird Bids ran their last “fantasy auction” for 2012. During the auction Vice-President Eric Swaim purportedly sent an email to Blue Bird Bids management on the issue of “auto-bots” driving up their auction prices.

In a position to do so, Swaim ran a check on some of the alleged auto-bidder accounts and discovered that none of the account showed up ‘as reps are customers in the system‘.

The logical conclusion drawn from this irregularity is that the accounts were most likely built into the auction backend and were being used by the company to artificially drive up auction prices.

A perusal of the Penny Auction Wizards website (the company behind the script being used on the new “devbluebirdbids” website), reveals that one of the features of their penny auction script is an “Auto Bidder System”, offering a “complete admin & user autobidder system“.


A user autobidder system I can understand, as customers using autobidders is pretty much an industry standard, but an admin autobidder system?

Why on Earth would a penny auction admin require an autobidder system themselves?

The only reason I can think of is to set up dummy accounts that won’t show up as either customers or affiliates and serve no other purpose than to bid against legitimate customers and affiliates, in order to drive up auction prices.

Or in other words, the exact behaviour Eric Swaim claimed to have witnessed when he personally observed the Blue Bird Bids penny auctions:

I have been watching the site most of the day and have noticed that we have had the same usernames bidding all day. When I tried to look them up in our system they do not show.

In perusing the Penny Auction Wizard website I couldn’t help but notice they showcase the “Bidsson” penny auctions in their “portfolio”:


Bidsson are the penny auctions of MLM company Bidify, who only just recently ditched a retail orientated compensation plan in favour of one that pays out affiliates based on bid purchases by their downlines.

Thus far I haven’t seen any reports of bots appearing on the Bidsson auctions but in using the same Penny Auction Wizards backend, the option to set up an “admin auto-bidder system” is always available to them.

One can only wonder how deep the MLM penny auction admin autobidder rabbit hole goes…