In the last few weeks, ad fraud has been propelled into the public spotlight, with U.S. Senators, the FBI and the online industry’s largest names waxing lyrical on its potential societal damage.
This culminated in the arrest of six Russian nationals and two people from Kazakhstan who were allegedly involved in a digital advertising fraud scheme worth more than $30 million, with others who are facing the same charges still at large.
Today one of the chief architects of the FBI-led takedown force, White Ops, is trying to help further public education on how fraudsters are able to manipulate the digital ecosystem through malware, which spreads to consumers’ devices and is then used to defraud advertisers.
The PSA shows what made the bot operation, dubbed “3ve,” so successful and elusive, ending with a call to action for everyday computer owners to take the FBI’s recommended steps to better protect themselves. The PSA ends by directing people to a page on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website dedicated to 3ve. The webpage details the specific malware used by 3ve and includes FBI tips for how consumers can remediate 3ve related malware and safeguard against future infections.
Michael Tiffany, president and co-founder of White Ops, said, “While 3ve may have been the biggest ad fraud operation to face consequences so far, it won’t be the last. The good news is that everyone can play a role in helping to prevent—or at least slow—the emergence of the next bot fraud of this magnitude or larger.”
Jon Bond, an investor in White Ops and founder of ad firm Kirshenbaum & Bond, added, “Ad fraud has become a multibillion-dollar problem; this takedown sends a global message that this kind of victimization won’t stand.”
The 3ve takedown highlights the scale of the problem, which is estimated to have cost the advertising industry to the tune of $6.5 billion last year and has since vexed U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. to the point of penning a letter to the to the Federal Trade Commission that voiced “grave concerns” over its slow response to investigating digital ad fraud.