As shown before, much of the blockchain-powered Helium LoRaWAN network is fake, especially in Hong Kong. Scammers claim their hotspots are installed in these locations to earn HNT while in reality they are probably somewhere in a garage, not providing any real coverage. Helium’s Proof-of-Coverage system is not able to detect these scams, and Helium has launched a denylist which has been extremely active since it was launched on 21 Jan 2022. The first version of the denylist (28 Jan 2022) had 25,047 known fraudulent hotspots, and the current version has 29,629 hotspots, which represents over 5% of the total hotspots Helium reports. Helium continues to publicise the total number of hotspots including the known fraudulent ones on the denylist.

The denylist, while still a work in progress, is having already its effect in Hong Kong:

25 Jan 2022: many fake hotspots earning above average (blue)
8 Feb 2022: many fake hotspots earning below average (red)

It is also interesting to see that the dense cluster on the East of Lantau island has disappeared; these 100 hotspots have been magically relocated to an area in the Philippines where the scammers hope to continue their operation. Despite my request, they have not been included in the denylist yet, but i have opened a new request.

100+ hotspots moved from Hong Kong to this cluster in the Philippines

When we zoom into Lantau island, we see that a lot of hotspots have disappeared on the East side, with the ones in the West remaining.

Lantau 25 Jan 2022: lots of fake hotspots earning above average (blue)
Lantau 8 Feb 2022: fake hotspots have been moved to a new location in the Philippines, with a few empty hexagons still showing
some of the remaining hexagons contain no hotspot

The East side of Lantau still has some hexagons but most contain no hospots, as the one above. It looks like the only 2 remaining hotspots are real, but they are not making much HNT because they cannot witness any other hotspots. The first one, in Tung Chung has even been included in the denylist for some reason, so its owner should make a removal request.

presumably real hotspot in Tung Chung, not earning much
presumably real hotspot in Discovery Bay, not earning much

Let’s look at the West side of Lantau, which still has about 20 hotspots that look very suspicious because the are all Heltec, installed within 2 days, and only witnessing each other. Anyone familiar with the topology of the island will agree that it is extremely unlikely that these hotspots can reach each other, with Lantau Peak (900m+) in between them. I have added an addition request to the denylist.

To be continued.

Getting fake Helium hotspots removed from Lantau island

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