Saturday, May 15, 2021

$500 Million Android Advertising Scam Busted

Must read

Supreme Court TCPA ATDS Ruling a Big Win for Telemarketers

On April 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the matter of Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid that is...

Is John Monarch Behind a $100 Million Bank Scam?

John Monarch was promoted Heavily by Affiliate Summit Founder Missy Ward, raising lots of questions. The Securities and Exchange commission delivered an early...

FTC Releases 2020 Annual Highlights

On March 25, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission released its 2020 Annual Highlights, emphasizing the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers. “Despite the challenges...

Marketing Fraud Continues to Grow in 2021, and Ad Companies Are Clueless

A new report from White Ops demonstrates that marketing fraud is growing, but that many in the online advertising space may not...
Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattinhttp://pacevegas.com
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pace Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

A huge scheme to defraud advertisers via android apps has been discovered. A SWATHE of sophisticated bots were able to bypass Google’s checks to put a giant fraud operation at the heart of the Google Play Store and generate what some experts claim could be over $500 million in fraud.

An investigation by Buzzfeed News found a total of 125 apps which were bought by a company called We Purchase Apps or one of its employees, Tzachi Ezrati. The prices were generous and the payments in Bitcoin, whilst the contact details for the company – with a UK phone number and a US residential address – showed that things were not as they seem.

Once the developers sold their apps, they were updated to show that they were owned by various companies in Bulgaria, Cyprus and Russia.

Of course, as you’ve probably guessed by now, the deal appears not to be on the level and, in fact, the apps became part of an advertising fraud scheme where advertisers were forced to pay up for ad placements that were in fact only ever seen by bots.

So where do our zombie apps come in? Well, it seems the gang used the real human behaviour of these established apps to train a neural network to imitate them, thus avoiding detection by Google’s systems.

In total, it is estimated that the apps have been downloaded a total of 115 million times, with one app alone clocking 20 million hits.

The apps are owned by multiple firms in multiple countries to disguise the size and scale of the scheme. When one fraud detection company, Pixalate, spotted part of the scheme and suggested it could be worth $75m per year in fraudulent ad-revenue, an anonymous message was received from someone close to the fraudsters suggesting that the real number is 10x that.

Google has already removed 40 apps, and blocked access to several websites, as well as closing down a number of developer accounts.

- Advertisement -

More articles

What's your opinion?

- Advertisement -

Latest article

Supreme Court TCPA ATDS Ruling a Big Win for Telemarketers

On April 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the matter of Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid that is...

Is John Monarch Behind a $100 Million Bank Scam?

John Monarch was promoted Heavily by Affiliate Summit Founder Missy Ward, raising lots of questions. The Securities and Exchange commission delivered an early...

FTC Releases 2020 Annual Highlights

On March 25, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission released its 2020 Annual Highlights, emphasizing the agency’s ongoing efforts to protect consumers. “Despite the challenges...

Marketing Fraud Continues to Grow in 2021, and Ad Companies Are Clueless

A new report from White Ops demonstrates that marketing fraud is growing, but that many in the online advertising space may not...

FTC Order Requires Company and Its Owner to Pay $146,249, and Stop Making Deceptive ‘Made in USA’ Claims

The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that a company that sells customizable promotional products such as wristbands, lanyards, temporary tattoos, and buttons,...