In the past few days, I've noticed a curious new form of spam accounts being set up in a very short period of time. I use Q&A as my primary spam protection. This has been largely effective in preventing spambot activity. I know a lot of the time on this board people dismiss the idea of human spammers, but on this occasion, I think they are human operators.
I've had a string of about 15-20 accounts opened - each corresponding with an actual local business in Australia. They open an account using a gmail address corresponding with the business name, then accurately fill out the profile form with the business name, location and forum URL visible. They don't post - they just open the account and leave. All of these accounts have been opened out of a single IP address in India (18.104.22.168). I have checked the website URLs and they are for legitimate business in Australian capital cities.
My working theory is that each of these business has engaged an SEO consultant to improve their search rankings and they have outsourced some work to India to create multiple forum accounts with reputable sites to create positive backlinks and improve their Google ranking and SERP performance.
This is certainly a new phenomenon to me - I've never seen it on my board in almost 20 years, but I'd be keen to hear people's thoughts and know if anyone has observed similar tactics.
My current strategy is to simply ban and deactivate the offending accounts (thereby removing the user profiles from the view of bots), but I'm of a mind to ring the businesses in question and give them a piece of my mind.