Did Google Let Clickfraud Case Drop, Rather Than Reveal Clickfraud Details?

from the sneaky,-sneaky dept

Nearly three years ago, a man was arrested for trying to blackmail Google over clickfraud. It was an amazingly brazen attempt. The guy had created a software program that he claimed could click ads without detection from Google, and then asked the company for $150,000 to keep him from releasing it. Google invited him to their offices for a meeting, where the guy even joked that "this feels like a blackmail session." Of course, law enforcement listening in one room over felt it actually was blackmail and charged the guy. However, Business Week notes that prosecutors quietly dropped the case two weeks ago, noting that while no one will talk publicly about it, the main reason may have been Google's reluctance to reveal much information for the case. Basically, the article contends that for Google to show that there were damages, they would have to explain how this program could successfully engage in clickfraud. Google may have then been concerned that revealing any of that info could either help other fraudsters, or give more ammo to various advertisers who are intent on suing Google over being charged for ads that are fraudulently clicked. However, on the flip side, the article notes that this admission that Google will let such obvious cases drop may encourage more people to engage in clickfraud, knowing that the risks aren't as high. It's still not clear why Google isn't somewhat more upfront with clickfraud. The company claims they don't want to help those engaged in the practice, but the more secretive they are, the more people question how successful they really are. It seems like there should be some middle ground where they can reveal some details without revealing how to beat their anti-clickfraud attempts.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:10am

    I don't see how engaging in clickfraud benefits the person committing the fraud. The site posting the ad gets paid, but the "frauder" has little/no recourse to make money except through blackmail - which obviously didn't work very well.

    Unless they just plain hate Google. Why not Yahoo? Or better yet MSN?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:27am

    Re:

    it benifits them by exceeding their comatitions limits. click fraud has two outcomes, one the target company's ad limit is exceeded and not shown anymore, or they have to lose large amount of cash for nothing. it is not so much a tool to make the person commiting fraud cash, it is to cost his competor.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re:

    ack I really should have ran that through a spellcheck prior to posting, glad i did it as AC :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Mike F.M, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:30am

    Benefits

    The main way that clickfraud benefits the person committing the fraud is when they are doing it to a competing company. It will push up the other companie's advertising costs and make their advertising less efficient.

    For people with no interest in the business they are carrying such a practice out against there doesn't seem to be any benefit to them.

    Then again, how do people benefit from smashing my wing-mirrors off every other weekend? They do it to be awkward

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anon, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 5:32am

    Re:

    Unless you offer people with Adsense for a fee to increase their revenues dramatically.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Ed, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 6:10am

    Blackmail

    If they were charging the guy with blackmail, then it has nothing to do with how the click fraud scheme was perpetrated. Either you our your source for the story must have misinterpreted facts. Google would not have to reveal anything about clickfraud to prove that the guy was engaging in blackmail. In fact, they don't even have to admit that his idea was valid. Trying to blackmail someone with a bad idea is still just as much of a crime as blackmail with a good idea

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 6:37am

    Re:

    I don't see how engaging in clickfraud benefits the person committing the fraud.


    1. host an adwords linkfarm

    2. build a botnet to come click in your linkfarm

    3. PROFIT!!1!


    Any questions?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 7:35am

    Google's Discretion?

    I fail to see why prosecutors should drop the case at Google's discretion. In criminal cases prosecutors can compel witnesses (e.g. Google) to testify whether they want to or not unless they plead that to do so would involve self-incrimination. So was Google ready to plead self-incrimination or are prosecutors now willing to drop valid cases on the instruction of large corporations or was there no crime in the first place or what?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 10:00am

    Re: Google's Discretion?

    prosecutors now willing to drop valid cases on the instruction of large corporations

    Patented, baybeeeee!

    Just let 'em try to drop another case this way, I'll sue their snarking pants off.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, Dec 5th, 2006 @ 3:30pm

    Google has ways of detecting Linkfarms, any fool should know that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    bird, Dec 6th, 2006 @ 12:46pm

    Clickfraud

    Um, Google isn't more serious about fighting clickfraud because it is a "revenue positive" situation for Google.

    I love Google as a company, but this is just a business fact. If they keep the whole thing quiet, everyone makes money--well, the advertisers seemingly overpay. However, they must feel the results are worth it, fraud and all, to keep advertising. I know that when we do PPC ads, we see only a small percentage of "buyers", but enough to make it worthwhile. So if the non-buyers are clickfraud or just looky-loos, what is the difference?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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