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Georgia Yam
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Secondary school teacher of Science - Biology & Chemistry Ingress @EighthEve
Secondary school teacher of Science - Biology & Chemistry Ingress @EighthEve

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Breaking the Drought

7 Layers
1.4 Million MU per layer
9.8 Million MU Total

+Ingress +Niantic Project +NIA Ops 

Welcome to Sydney, NSW Australia! Where BAFFing use to be active but has died down to the point of non-existing due to first to large amount of blockers from both factions, but now mainly because of the spoofers that now plague the area and strategic anchors.

I will apologise to the awesome BAFFing team I had for this Op for tarnishing this sitrep with a spoofer report. But I will focus on the hard work of these agents first, and the awesome Xfaction support we experienced in this Op against the spoofers.

Only a few days before the Op happened, the call was put out to recruit agents to join in Operation: Breaking the Drought, designed to break the lack of BAF Operations in the area and boost moral and interest in fielding for local agents. With an Australian anomaly coming up in Melbourne in November, the moral boost would be greatly beneficial.

From one of my stored BAF plans, there was a few objectives for this. Main one was moral and building fielding interest. Anchors were chosen to reduce the amount of blockers and reduce travelling time for agents involved, knowing that spoofers would likely be active. That way, we would minimise the effort and disappointment from the agents involved. Other objectives was to actually catch the spoofer out in hopes that +Niantic will act against them. Last little thing was to discover what MU BAFFing just the 'Sydney region' would achieve (turns out the anchors might play a hand in calculating MU, which I did hear about a long time ago, completely forgot).

The call out was answered by an awesome crew, ranging from new agents (yet to reach Lvl8 and first time working in a team op) to highly experienced BAFFers and everywhere in between. It was a very enthusiastic group who were all very keen on making this op happen and finally breaking the drought!! Alerts were allocated and trips planned. All was going great and everyone was ready for the day of the Op.

The day was a beautiful sunny yet cool day, and everything was going smoothly and stealthy. Plan was to drop all links within approx 10mins and link straight afterwards to grab the CP. Time came and under the experienced guide of our intel operator, we tackled the last minute blockers as they popped up and managed to get the field up!! Missed CP but it was still awesome to accomplish such a feat!!!

With all the hard, greatly coordinated work we were very happy with our work!! HOs were lighting up with shocked comments and messages of praise and thanks. Even from the ENL community! The final layer went in and the field was complete!! We all thanked one another and were all heading home.

Thats when an already reported spoofer ruined everyone's day.@Seaguller- took down the Norfolk island anchor within minutes of the field going up. It was such a quick response that if you were having a cup of tea/coffee you would have missed the entire thing. 1:56pm, the first layer went up. 2:08pm was when the last layer went up. 2:10pm was when the spoofer took it down. It was highly frustrating to see a reported spoofer take down such awesome team work. The ENL were also pretty upset, sending messages of condolences.

But since this Op had a small objective of catching out the spoofer, we did have a backup. An agent on Norfolk island. Once in contact with the agent, we tried to rethrow the BAF. Some ENL were already active blocking up the lanes. We reached out to RES agents nearby to help out. It took time but we were nearly ready to go. Then the ENL REALLY blocked it up...

Hours had passed since he BAF and I reached out to the ENL community asking them to remove their recently thrown blockers as we were trying to re-throw. In an awesome Xfac relationship step they agreed, stating that they thought the BAF had completely died and not being re-thrown. The links were cleared and we threw the links back up. But the ENL was already legitimately at an anchor taking out the BAF for real. So even though it wasn't put back up, they did legitimately take it out before the next CP.

I would like the sincerely thanks those ENL agents for helping out and I will retract their names from this post to protect them from possble trolling from other ENL agents. It definitely showed the stance both factions' communities should aim for against spoofers all over the world! I will definitely return the favour in the future and will encourage my teammates to do the same.

BTW Our Norfolk agent did not see anyone at the portal and even tried to meet up with @Seaguller who didn't reply to comms. I hope +Niantic Will finally do something about this spoofer soon.

Agents involved:

@Trothwell- Clearing
@Nargun
@JungleRunner- Clearing
@MezgaOcsi - Clearing
@Leandr- Clearing
@QuackQuack- Clearing
@krackerz85- Clearing
@mrdamager - Clearing
@rockclimber67 - Clearing
@Mawler- Clearing

@Dowit- Planner/Lead/linker
@sunsetjude- Linker
@Optimapress- Linker
@Zero1427 - Norfolk Redeployer

@Jimsug- Intel Operator

Until the next BAF, catch you later
Dowit
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2016-10-24
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+Niantic​ +NIA Ops​ +Andrew Krug​ +John Hanke​ 

Please note two further spoofer reports have been submitted today for Australian spoofer activities.

1. Agent @roofnspoof, an L1 enl agent, appeared on an island off the coast of Queensland Yesterday, and made what appears to be a strategic link to another island off the coast of Queensland. These islands are not cheap or easy to get to, and it is disappointing when the legitimate work of agents from both factions is undone by someone sitting at a keyboard. As you can see from the screenshots, this account has done pretty much nothing else, apart from another very long link that we have been unable to identify at this stage.
Issue has been logged https://support.ingress.com/hc/en-us/requests/278992.
Portal Link https://www.ingress.com/intel?ll=-23.595287,151.291217&z=10&pll=-23.759873,151.314232

2. Agent @iadylike has this morning seemingly undertaken a 20Km walk to kill a single portal that a large portion of Victoria was fielded from. The account has not taken any other portals in the area, including one that was right at the start of the path that would need to be taken if the person involved was legitiimately walking that track. Checks within the Xfac AntiSpoofing community undertaken before lodging the report have shown that the enl community is also unable to verify this account, and believe this to be a spoofing account.

Report lodged here: https://support.ingress.com/hc/en-us/requests/278990.

Portal Link https://www.ingress.com/intel?ll=-39.08627,146.383638&z=16

These are now daily occurances - especially as we approach anomaly season in Melbourne. There is a another thread that details repeated spoofer activity across both NSW & Victoria by the same account over several weeks- when i reported it, the report was simply closed and the spoofer continued to do their thing unabated. https://plus.google.com/108834619202169206995/posts/J37KR9Jdweq
https://support.ingress.com/hc/en-us/requests/263113.

As you can see, frustrated agents have added to it over the weeks with additional information.

That post, when reshared, spawned yet another conversation regarding both that agent, as well as others linked to them.

These conversations were xfac by the way, this wasnt just some upset res agents having a go.

https://plus.google.com/+AlistairErskine/posts/8U3W5FVSRAV

I'm not sure what the point of the reporting system is if it doesnt actually result in actions being taken against the people involved. It seems to me that the only reports that really get traction are those where we can prove trespassing has occured - and I have to wonder if that is because of the risk of lawsuits? "Normal" spoofing presumably involves no such legal risks for you & only alienates your player base,

As I sit here typing this, I see yet another post flow through my G+ page. https://plus.google.com/+VickiEllen/posts/Z314aQXRqtD, discussing an extended series of events that have occurred in the UK.

I see others from the US & many other countries of the world.

The one consistent thread that they have - reports are made & lodged correctly through your ticketing system.... and nothing happens.....! Tickets are marked as resolved, yet the spoofers continue on their merry way causing havoc & frustration for legitimate players - you know, the ones that do spend money on your game, that invest large amounts of unpaid time to help you run your anomalies, mission days and first saturday events. Then there are the agents that give up their time to help investigate cases of spoofing, and multi accounting and make sure that we are not just accusing agents of activity that is against the terms of service without good cause.

These agents are disheartened by your inaction

Players in general are disheartened by your inaction, and are leaving the game they love.

All because NIantic will not hold up it's end of the agreement that you asked us to agree to in your Terms of Service when we started playing the game. That contract between players & Niantic works both ways - We hold up our side of the contract, and do the right thing, as well as reporting those who dont when we find them. It seems however that it's a one-way contract, which you can ignore when it suits you as its too hard to fix.

Please PLEASE start taking action when it's reported by those who truly have an an idea of whats going on in the world around us, because as the moment, "things are not as they seem".

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We are all aware of how big the spoofer issue is in +Ingress around the world, and how big the challenge is to stop them.

I would like to applaud on the work they've done to date, but with the release and massive success of Pokémon Go, Ingress has stepped much further into the limelight, which has attracted (and still is attracting) an increasing number of spoofers.

In my strong opinion, however, +Niantic's stance on not reinstating the hard work of legit agents is destroying the game.

I'm sure I'm not the only agent who thinks this. I've noticed in my region (Australia/Oceania) that this stance has resulted in several hardcore agents retiring/quitting and the area slowly turning one-sided. The cost of doing large scale operations in Australia can be highly expensive and time consuming. For example, a trip to Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) can cost $500+ dollars in fuel alone from the nearest major city and take about 17 hours of driving.

+Niantic’s current stance, while positive, still isn't effective. The spoofers are able to jump in, do the damage (which may cost legit agents thousands of dollars), then get banned… Is this fair? No, the damage is done and it doesn't really matter if the account is banned. The other side can then jump in and take advantage of the situation.

In current times, the +Ingress community has been able to provide sufficient evidence of obvious spoofing to +Niantic, which I'm sure has been highly useful in their investigations. This community feedback is based on a large community's collective knowledge and research and can make a strong case against suspicious accounts. If Niantic was to facilitate a procedure of receiving this information from the ingress community and using it as required, these spoofers could be dealt with in the speed required.

One example of a failed response can be seen in the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Australia. We have had an account in there for well over a week now slowly taking out every portal (most of which are 800+ days old). The first two takedowns from this account happened within 75 minutes at night between two portals that would take a highly-experienced hiker over five hours to trek during daylight hours and optimal conditions. This action is clear proof that this account is a GPS spoofer and the community reported this swiftly. However, no action has been taken by Niantic, and this spoofer still wanders around the Blue Mountains taking out difficult-to-reach portals within a few hours, portals which will take days to recover. This report has also generated XFAC interest and support as is evident in the comments, where both RES and ENL start talking about spoofers hitting guardians. The report: https://plus.google.com/108834619202169206995/posts/J37KR9Jdweq

With the introduction of Special Fielding Operations and the Via Lux Adventurer/Odyssey Badges, Niantic has shown that they want to get these elements of the game back into play. However these will not be effective if the spoofing isn't stopped, especially the SFOs. The SFOs will be highly subjected to spoofing, not only during the operation, but the months before hand. Highly strategic links can be spoofed up months in advance and will affect the outcome on the SFO, which in turn will affect the outcome of an anomaly. If anomalies become more subjected to spoofers, agents will stop coming and the true essence of the game will be lost. I ask to remove SFOs (despite how fun they are) from anomalies until the spoofer issue is dealt with.

In my strong opinion, banning isn't enough to stop (or even to slow down) the influx of spoofers. If +Niantic’s stance was changed to include reinstating the conditions before the spoofing, the spoofers’ efforts would have zero effect and spoofing will have little-to-no benefit in these kinds of games.

I understand this will be a challenge to implement, but I'm sure that it would be a major step in the right direction.

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For those that are curious....this article is excellent at describing the differences between PokémonGo and Ingress. :)

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