Scammers and dishonest P2P individuals use false torrents to phish people's identities, bilk them for money, or vandalize their computers through trojan infections. Gratefully, helpful P2P users like 'already_dead' and other longtime supporters of Isohunt.com have built up methods of identifying false torrents and avoiding them.
Below are 10 strong suggestions on how to spot fake torrent movie and music files. This list is changing, and will update regularly with changes in torrent swarming technology.
Related: Submit your own suggestions on how to spot fake torrents
Related: Always use a reliable antivirus product like Avira
1. Confirm Both the Torrent and the Movie Release Date with a Third Party
2. You Can Trust .AVI and .MKV Files as a General Rule; Avoid .WMA and .WMV Files
For the most part, true movie files are either .avi (audio video interleave) or .mkv (Matroska files) format. Conversely, the great majority of .wma and .wmv files are fake. While there are some authentic examples, most .wma and .wmv files will link to other sites to get paid codecs or malware downloads.
3. Check for 'Verified' Status on the Torrent
Sites like Isohunt and Torrentbox will actually employ a committee of core users to confirm and 'verify' torrents. While these verified files are small in number, they are very likely true torrents that can be trusted. Keep your Avira antivirus updated and active, and 'verified' files should be safe to download.
4. Always Read the Comments
Some torrent sites like Isohunt.com will capture user comments. Like eBay feedback on other eBay users, these comments can give you a sense of how legit the file is. If you see no comments on a file, be suspicious. If you see any negative comments on the file, then move on and find a better torrent.
5. Beware a Disportionate Number of Thousands of Seeds, but No Comments
Abusive uploaders will falsify the number of seeds and peers. By using software tools like BTSeedInflator, abusers will make their torrents look like 10,000+ users are sharing it. If you see these massively large seed/peer numbers, but there are no user comments on the file, then avoid the file! Any true torrent that has more than a few thousand seeds should also have positive user comments.
6. Beware if Password Instructions, Special Instructions, or Exe Files Are Included
If you see a file in the movie/music torrent that says 'password', 'special instructions', 'codec instructions', 'unrar instructions, 'important read me first', 'download instructions here', then the torrent could be a scam fake. The instigator is likely looking redirect you to a shady website to download a dubious movie player as a precondition to opening the movie file. Furthermore, if there is an exe executable file included, then definitely avoid that torrent download! Executable files for movies and music are a big red flag, as there is no need for an executable file to be present. Exe files and any passwords or special download instructions are likely a sign that you should move on and find a better torrent download elsewhere.
7. Distrust .RAR, .TAR, .ACE Files
Yes, there are legit uploaders who use .rar archives to share files. But for movies and music, the majority of rar and archive files are fake. Abusers use the rar format to conceal trojans and codec scam files. Video is already compressed, so there is no need to compress further.
If you see an attractive torrent movie file that is in .rar, .tar, or .ace format, distrust it and examine its listed file contents before you download. If there is no list of the contents, do not trust it. If the file list is disclosed, but the file list includes an .exe executable file, or text files with the words 'password' or 'download instructions', do not trust it.
8. Avoid Using the Following Software
These torrent software clients have earned a bad reputation for seeding malware, fraudulent codec downloaders, keyloggers and trojans. Avoid using any of the following:
9. Beware Trackers that Can't Be Found on Google
Open the published torrent details, and copy-paste the tracker names into Google. If a tracker is legitimate, you will see many Google hits where many torrent sites point to the copy-pasted tracker. If the tracker is false, you will find many unrelated hits at Google, often with the words 'fake' as P2P users post warnings on that fake tracker.
10. Only Use the Following Media Players
These are the trusted movie and music players of 2012. Anything other than these products is a candidate for being a trojan or malware tool.
- Windows Media Player
- VLC Media Plyer