Fraud, fake accounts, and spam
Skillshare pays teachers based on the minutes students spend watching their classes. Skillshare is an open platform, so anyone who meets the platform’s guidelines can teach. In rare cases teachers were creating fake student accounts and watching their own classes to bolster their earnings. The company also offers a referral program, in which teachers get paid every time someone signs up on the platform using their code. Skillshare’s fraud manager discovered collusion happening between teachers and students, with fraudsters using stolen credit cards to create many fake student accounts, and then redeeming the same teacher referral code across those accounts to get the fraudulent teacher referral bonuses.
Fraudsters were also using Skillshare to engage in SEO spam by creating landing pages on the platform for products they were selling. This was in an attempt to get spammy sites ranked higher in Google searches. Not only was this risky, as the landing pages could take users off-platform to questionable sites, but it was also detrimental to Skillshare’s reputation.
Unfortunately, Skillshare’s fraud management was primarily via SQL queries, and these schemes were only discovered after they had already happened. They needed a way to proactively detect and remove networks of colluding users, and to keep SEO spammers off of the platform.