How scammers made ad fraud a billion-dollar criminal industry

How scammers made ad fraud a billion-dollar criminal industry
Written by May 10, 2019 | CYBERSCOOP

Whoever came up with “thieves rob banks because that’s where all the money is” needs to add “digital advertising” to the updated version of the adage.


Criminals simply don’t need to go through all the trouble of stealing money from well-fortified financial institutions when they can just trick advertisers into directly lining their pockets. With internet ad revenue totaling more than $100 billion in 2018, scammers are following that line of money: ad fraud is set to cost the industry as much as $44 billion annually by 2022.


But the problem has ramifications for more than just the digital advertising market.


Digital ad revenue provides much of the financial underpinning of e-commerce and online-based businesses. Media agencies suffer when their analytics tools report a substantial amount of web traffic, but the amount of revenue doesn’t support the number of visitors tracked by their systems.


Online ad fraud has become so profitable that malware creators and botnet masters are developing new programs and theft techniques in order to keep making a profit, according to Michael Tiffany, president and co-founder of the bot detection company White Ops.


“To make money, the bad guys make it look like there are more people looking at ads than there really are,” he said. “This is a big deal because other crimes leave evidence. You might have missed a ransomware infection, but someone asks for bitcoin…But ad fraud succeeds by going unnoticed.”


Scams works in myriad of ways, though every meth ..