When Ad Fraud Becomes A Criminal Act
Yesterday the DOJ charged eight people in the US and Europe with running a sophisticated ad fraud operation and collecting millions in revenue for digital impressions which were never viewed by humans. The indictment alleges the group employed a sophisticated “botnet” strategy by hijacking 1.7M million computers through their internet connections and turning them into an army of devices which could supposedly view ads which were served to them. The only problem is the owners of these computers never saw the ads which were being served . . . hence the ad fraud.
While ad fraud has been a huge problem in digital media for years, we haven’t seen criminal prosecution of these scams until now. Granted, yesterday’s DOJ move was only an indictment – the defendants still need to be arrested (if someone can find them in an Eastern European internet café), and be convicted in a trial. If all that happens we may finally see some punishment for bad actors who’ve been scamming our industry for years.