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.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mike F.M, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dosquatch, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ed, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dosquatch, 5 Dec 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 chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 5 Dec 2006 @ 3:30pm

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

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

  • identicon
    bird, 6 Dec 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 chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Advertisment

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord

The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...

Loading...
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.