First it was fake news. Now it’s fake views. A cybersecurity firm claims to have uncovered a major fraud scheme that has siphoned more than $180 million from digital advertisers and publishers. The so-called Methbot operation includes a vast “bot farm” and falsified IP addresses through which scammers are able to imitate human activity and artificially inflate video views, according to White Ops, the firm that released a report on the operation today.
White Ops says the Methbot scammers operate in Russia and have been able to create up to 300 million fake video impressions a day by invading the programmatic ad-buying ecosphere. Estimated losses are $3 million to $5 million a day, making this the largest known ad-fraud scheme the industry has seen. Over the last two years, digital publishers have become increasingly focused on video, with some companies scaling back their traditional newsrooms and beefing up their video teams in an effort to chase premium ad dollars. Methbot gets its name from references to “meth” in the hackers’ code. Read the full report here.