A new report has uncovered a massive advertising fraud scheme that made scammers serious cash, fooled marketing companies and killed users' smartphone batteries. The scheme operated via fake banner advertisements that were secretly hidden behind legitimate banner ads in Android apps, according to BuzzFeed News. This scam was previously spotted by at least two ad fraud detection firms, Protected Media and online media verification firm DoubleVerify's ad fraud lab. A new report has uncovered a massive advertising fraud scheme that let made scammers serious cash, fooled marketing companies and killed users' smartphone batteries Fraudsters were able to hijack in-app ads in apps using Twitter's MoPub ad platform. App developers say they've received complaints of their apps draining consumers' phone batteries, BuzzFeed said, but they often can't explain the source of the battery drain.
Security firm White Ops says it has discovered an ad fraud scheme raking in up to $3 million per day, making it the largest such operation ever. Called Methbot, because of drug references in the code, it tricks ad networks into playing videos on fake websites, which are in turn "watched" by bots that simulate real users. The networks then pay the scammers, reportedly located in Russia, effectively flushing advertisers' and publishers' money down the toilet. The operation is unprecedented in its complexity, the security firm says, and may have cost the hackers as much as several hundred thousand dollars per day. To start with, the scammers registered over 6,000 fake domains that spoofed legitimate sites like ESPN and Fox News, then generated over a quarter million fake URLs that could only do one thing: host video ads.