Earlier this year in Beware Mashup Spam we saw how spammers were working on gaming Google Maps via mass uploads and creating questionable or false listings. Well, Search Engine Land's Mike Blumenthal has just followed-up on his initial report with more in yesterday's MapSpammers Getting More Sophisticated.
In a nutshell, Mike reports on get rich quick schemes in which the spammer uses post office boxes in any city to "legitimize" themselves and get ranking in Google Maps. The overall scheme is to: "Rent a mailing address with forwarding in every major market near the centroid of the city (UPS is one of many that offer this service); Obtain a domain name for each city with a relevant "location + service" domain; Create a website that returns an optimized "location + service" page for the domain; Enter the businesses in the Google Local Business Center (if you are doing the top 50 metro markets, not such a big deal) note: skip this and the next step if using Yahoo Local; Enter the PIN numbers when they are forwarded to you; Get rich quick."
While not a mashup technique specifically, it's not a stretch to see how this type of technique can extend to mashups, or even the data from these techniques showing-up in local-focused map or shopping mashups. And in a quick test using one of the best and highest rated map mashups on this site, Alkemis Local NYC, you can see that searching on "cash advance loans" brings up the same business on Fulton Street that Mike highlights in his report.
This is probably just the beginning of how the web as Platform gets gamed.