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Man Accused of Attempting to Extort Google 302

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the future-of-cybercrime dept.
sandalwood writes "A programmer has been arrested on charges of attempting to "threaten Google with a software program he devised that creates phony clicks on pop-up advertisements delivered by Google. Google pays Web site publishers companies a certain amount for legitimate hits on those ads, but Bradley created a method that generates false clicks that appeared to be real Internet traffic, which would have repeatedly defrauded Google... Bradley contacted Google in early March, informing company officials that he had created the program and wanted $100,000 to keep him from selling it to spammers, according to an affidavit by a U.S. Secret Service agent." A harbinger of organized crime to come? That's a real nice website you have here... a shame if anything were to happen to it..."
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Man Accused of Attempting to Extort Google

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  • Or vice versa (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Space cowboy (13680) * on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:40AM (#8633794) Journal
    Want to really annoy your competition ? Do the same thing actually on a google search page - just make it "search" 1000 times for words that bring up your competitions 'adwords' box, then "click" the adwords link. Google then bills your competitor for the maximum (s)he specified per day/week/month and, bonus!, your competitor then drops down the rankings for which google Adword to display...

    Random words mixed in with the key ones, random delays between searches, random User-Agent, etc., etc. Seems like it would be easy to do, and hard to track...

    Simon.
    • Want to really annoy your competition ? Do the same thing actually on a google search page - just make it "search" 1000 times for words that bring up your competitions 'adwords' box, then "click" the adwords link.
      Presumably Google has something that filters excessive traffic by IPs not known to be proxies for places like AOL.

      The problem comes in when there are all these databases of open web proxies and code in CPAN for accessing and using those. :/

    • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Informative)

      by stonebeat.org (562495) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:49AM (#8633911) Homepage
      actually this will not work. Google use statistical data to stop the user from doing this. It will almost have to be a DDOS attack (i.e. have thousands of IP addresses click on the AD) to pull this off. In that case it would be much easier just to DDOS the website of your competitor. Just like what happened to SCO.com
      • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Interesting)

        by walter_kovacs (763951) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:02AM (#8634062) Homepage Journal
        Actually no, click fraud is a real problem with Google (and all other pay per click engines). There have been many times when my Adwords traffic has spiked, sales have plummeted and conversions gone through the floor, and I am 99% sure that it is click fraud - the logs are just FULL of proxies, and Google seems helpless to do anything about it, but still happily collects the money.
        • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Informative)

          by Camel Pilot (78781) on Monday March 22, 2004 @01:50PM (#8635948) Homepage Journal
          I have had similar experiences. Overture (aka yahoo) attempts to console you with their Click Protection buzz words. But in reality they do not filter out the even the most basic fraudulent clicks.

          Here is summary of my recent experience with Overture's Click Protection [perlworks.com] program. Overture e-mail responses are almost unbelievable.
          Overture claims to provide "Click Protection" for their pay-per-click advertising service. In reality they fail to prevent the most basic and easiest to detect non-authentic clicks - that is competitors clicking on competitors. They do not even filter out a customer clicking on their own links from within the Overture manager. Nor do they provide a method for an advertiser to test their own ad rendered URL's - a necessary function as a means to test the validity of an entered URL. Since filtering out such clicks would be simple and straight forward using established cookies or session id's - I can only speculate the reasons for not patching this obvious flaw and question the "sophistication of Overtures "Click Protection".
      • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Informative)

        by AndroidCat (229562) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:08AM (#8634118) Homepage
        That's why the article mentions spammers. The (old) trick works by sending out spam that generates a click-through when someone opens the email. (Or previews it in LookOut.) That way it comes from a whole bunch of IP addresses of people dumb enough to allow HTML script to run in their email.
        • Re:Or vice versa (Score:4, Insightful)

          by pinkUZI (515787) <(slashdot.7.jmas ... spamgourmet.com)> on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:14AM (#8634185) Homepage Journal
          um... guys,
          maybe I'm out of line here, but this is not a good topic to brain storm. Why do we want to devises more deviant ways to spam?
          And why hurt our precious Google!
          • Re:Or vice versa (Score:2, Interesting)

            by AndroidCat (229562)
            As I said, click-through spam is old news from a few years ago. I'm sure anyone could find examples in news.admin.net-abuse.sightings if they search through GoogleGroups .. um .. or maybe not. :^P
          • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Insightful)

            by idiot900 (166952) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:29AM (#8634352)
            maybe I'm out of line here, but this is not a good topic to brain storm. Why do we want to devises more deviant ways to spam?
            And why hurt our precious Google!


            1) Because it's our intrinsic human right to think about whatever we want.
            2) Because some of us, as server administrators, must deal with spam in all its vile forms, and we therefore must know our enemy.
            • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Insightful)

              by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012@pot a . to> on Monday March 22, 2004 @12:36PM (#8635110)
              1) Because it's our intrinsic human right to think about whatever we want.

              FYI, thinking is something you do inside your head. Talking, on the other hand, is an action that can have consequences in the world. It's unfortunate that the urge to accept responsibility for the consequences of one's actions is not quite as intrinsic as the urge to run one's mouth.
              • Re:Or vice versa (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Chester K (145560)
                FYI, thinking is something you do inside your head. Talking, on the other hand, is an action that can have consequences in the world. It's unfortunate that the urge to accept responsibility for the consequences of one's actions is not quite as intrinsic as the urge to run one's mouth.

                Talking is distributed thinking. As soon as you start looking down upon talking about abuse, you at the same time prevent anyone from doing anything to stop it.
            • Re:Or vice versa (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Tatarize (682683)
              3) Because while brainstorming we are helping to inform the other very smart people on the site about the problem, and somebody might churn out an answer. Information and ideas are not weapons, they are the solution.
          • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:34AM (#8634406) Homepage
            um... guys, maybe I'm out of line here, but this is not a good topic to brain storm. Why do we want to devises more deviant ways to spam? And why hurt our precious Google!

            Pretending no one thought of it is not an effective way to prevent others from thinking of it. We want all possible exploits to be exposed, so they can be dealt with. You're advocating security through obscurity.

          • Re:Or vice versa (Score:3, Informative)

            by AndroidCat (229562)
            Yep, too late--some damned fool [google.ca] already posted about that trick to news.admin.net-abuse.email back in May of 2001. D'OH! :^)
        • The (old) trick works by sending out spam that generates a click-through when someone opens the email.

          Presumably Google is smart enough to check referer logs when charging for adwords. If they don't check referers, a much simpler and more reliable attack is to embed a 1px by 1px iframe in your own high-traffic website.

      • Re:Or vice versa (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        There is a valid methods for doing this. I know more than one, orginally I was going to post it, but greedy slimy business men might read this and get a programmer to write it. A little unknown fact, right from a GOOGLE engineer, and I quote "We DO NOT check for spam clicking". Guys, THIS IS ALREADY BEING DONE. THIS is not new news. I Hope the FBI does their job and get the a--holes that are doing. Google is not the ONLY victim, Looksmart, overture ( yes overture, i know about the split servers to pr
    • Re:Or vice versa (Score:5, Interesting)

      by psycho_tinman (313601) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:54AM (#8633971) Journal

      Well, I don't see how this person could offer up a tool for extortion without figuring out how to spoof IP addresses, anyway. Surely, it would raise an alert if most, if not ALL of your clickthroughs came from a single small set of IPs ? Also, one nitpick about the article, since when does Google offer popup advertising ?

      I'm quite certain plenty of programmers know how to fake clickthroughs, or they could sit down and figure it out. Spoofing IP addresses, on the other hand, would be slightly more difficult.. and there are only so many open proxies and so on.

      On a slightly more depressing note, this sounds like a perfect scheme for all those zombie machines that are being spawned out there (with email worms). Instead of doing a Distributed DOS or sending out spam (which are their current uses, and can be easily traced back), if they were used to randomly send out a few million clicks, or to host a mini link farm for Googlebot's eyes only.... the possibilities for spamming become endless. Scary thought.

      • are you really so ignorant?

        it would take under an hour to write the code

        google will even help you [google.com]
    • Random words mixed in with the key ones, random delays between searches, random User-Agent, etc., etc. Seems like it would be easy to do, and hard to track...

      Don't forget random IPs... without that, the tracking becomes very easy

  • I wonder how long he had to Google before he figured out the technical details of how to do that? ;-)

    Search terms: "how to extort" AND money AND "from google" ;-)
  • Blackmail (Score:2, Insightful)

    by darkmeridian (119044)
    This is blackmail, plain and simple. It is just happening in cyberspace and the current laws are thankfully being applied in this new world. There is no genuine economic transaction being furthered by this man's program but to destroy Google's income. He doesn't have a leg to stand on in court.
    • by ackthpt (218170) *
      Be honest, how old did you think this guy was, before reading the article? 12? 14?

      Michael Anthony Bradley, 32

      Probably still has his mothers umbilical cord attached. Sheesh.

  • Found him! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Darl McBride (704524) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:41AM (#8633812)
    You can find articles about the fellow by looking at the top Google hits for "moron," "fucktard," and "what the hell were you thinking?"
  • by LinuxInDallas (73952) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:42AM (#8633820)
    Next time, just go straight to the spammers.
  • Slashdot... (Score:5, Funny)

    by martingunnarsson (590268) * <martin&snarl-up,com> on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:43AM (#8633839) Homepage
    That's a real nice website you have here... a shame if anything were to happen to it...

    Isn't this what Slashdot is trying to do? No?
  • Foolish criminal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msgmonkey (599753) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:44AM (#8633843)
    I'm amazed that this guy thought that google would pay out. If he was clever he would set up a few websites and rake the money in slowly over a length of time. I guess greed got the better of him.
    • If he was clever

      Unlike you...

      he would set up a few websites

      ...and then have Google advertise them via their advertising program...

      and rake the money in slowly over a length of time.

      Every time he clicks on a link to his own website, he -- as the website owner -- pays Google for it.

      Now how do you suppose he's going to make any money at that?
      • Now how do you suppose he's going to make any money at that?

        Google have a programme called AdSense [google.com] in which they put Google AdWords on other websites - I'm sure you've seen them around the net. He could have set up a website, signed up with AdSense, and then had his clicking program click away on those ads on his own website. Result? A cheque from Google for the clicks.

  • by squarefish (561836) * on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:44AM (#8633852)
    feeling lucky [google.com]
  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:45AM (#8633855)
    Next time don't go to those you are trying to extort. Just go straight to the competition. I'm sure the spammers would have paid him much more than $100,000 collectively and not turned him in.

    Imagine, he could have licensed his software to the spammers and charged them an annual fee to use it. He could have been the "Microsoft" of the spamming industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:45AM (#8633858)
    Hi. I'm Troy McClure. You might remember me from such search-engine fraud films as "The Altavistan Job", "The Great Dogpile Caper", and "Lycos Grifters IV: Electric Boogaloo".
  • by ph4s3 (634087) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:45AM (#8633866)
    ...a new revenue stream.

    Hi little guy, this is Cmdr.Taco... We're going to link to your site in an article. What? You say you can't handle the traffic? For the low low cost of $699 we can grant you a license to mirror your site on our finely tuned slashdot-proof servers.
  • stupid... (Score:5, Funny)

    by jwthompson2 (749521) * <<james> <at> <plainprograms.com>> on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:47AM (#8633886) Homepage
    This guy tried to extort the search engine that allows you to find almost anything including almost anybody and he was expecting to not get caught?

    Stupid!
  • Apart from being threatened, surely Google have sufficiently intelligent engineers to figure out a solution to this problem?

    No doubt the software would follow a particular pattern, which even in a large amount of data, could possibly be tracked and with regards to things like open proxies, it would surprise me if Google didn't already check for things like that.
    • Apart from being threatened, surely Google have sufficiently intelligent engineers to figure out a solution to this problem?

      Aside from saving themselves $100k, they get to avoid the arms race. Their engineers vs. this programmer and the spammers. Over and over again, measuers, counter-meaures, counter-counter measures, counter-counter-counter measuers ad infinitum.

      Besides, if they get this guy sent to PITA prison, that will have a chilling effect on the next poor schmuck who is thinking of fucking with G
  • Google uses pop ups? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slash-tard (689130)
    I havent seen any, I do use the google tool bar though.

    BTW, I have also devised a program to simulate fake activity. Use any of the windows based graphical macro programs, load google, search, click the ad, save macro, repeat it in a loop. You could do this in multiple VMWare sessions if you wanted to increase your "productivity".
  • by Kailden (129168) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:48AM (#8633909) Journal
    For your Occupation, choose 2 of the following three:

    1) Fun
    2) Well-paying
    3) Legal

    This guy probably was legal up to the point of threatening Google. I guess that the fine line between the criminal mind and normal everyday greed.

  • by Fullmetal Edward (720590) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:49AM (#8633912) Journal
    "Come out with your hard drives up or we'll send in the slashdotters and Shaft!"

    The way of the future... Just wait till Bush catchs on, Cowboy Neal and Taco will be billionairs with an army of geeks on hand...

    TO THE SLASHDOT MOBILE!
  • Psst ... /. (Score:5, Funny)

    by g0bshiTe (596213) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:49AM (#8633917)
    I figured out and wrote a perl script to increase my karma. Give me $1200 worth of ThinkGeek stuff, or I'll post it in the forums!!!!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I figured out and wrote a perl script to increase my karma. Give me $1200 worth of ThinkGeek stuff, or I'll post it in the forums!!!!

      Awww, crap, you too? That's common knowledge:
      num=int(rnd(0)*5)
      select num
      MSG="Microsoft sucks."
      MSG="Linux rocks!"
      MSG="MPAA is bad."
      MSG="RIAA is evil."
      MSG="This is a repost. Duh!"
      end select

      printf $MSG
  • Interesting (Score:5, Funny)

    by SirLantos (559182) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:50AM (#8633930) Homepage
    A series of funny quotes come to mind: 'You want I should break your links?' 'Mario, I need you to 404 this site.' 'I will ping flood you so fast, you wont know what hit you.' 'I host your site. You've never google me. You dont visit my page. And now you want me to bring down this site. What am I supposed to think?' 'Johhny, I swear, I'll get you your page hits. I just need some more time.'
  • What a daft bugger. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:51AM (#8633946) Homepage Journal
    Spammers don't need programs like that. People who have ads on their web pages and want to generate hits on the ads would want that.

    Spammers, on the other hand, have now moved onto blogs lately. Fred Rodriguez [fredrodriguez.com], a rider Emeryville, CA, for italian team Aqua e Sapone has spams for the usual penis enlargment, diet pills, cheap computer eqz, etc. on his guest book. Spammers got no shame, just like this fool.

  • sloppy work (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Clockwork Troll (655321) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:52AM (#8633948) Journal
    He was very easy to track down. Apparently, a red flag gets raised at Google whenever anyone actually clicks on those ads. So, they eliminated the guy who needed ink jet cartridges and sent the police in.
    • by blorg (726186) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:15AM (#8634202)
      If I'm actually looking to buy something, and I see an ad that is *relevant*, sure I'll click on it. We advertise heavily on AdWords ourselves and get a phenomenal amount of traffic on them, with click-throughs over 25% on certain keyword combinations.
  • by stecoop (759508) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:54AM (#8633977) Journal
    Every SlashDotter should click on every advertisement that you see on Slashdot. Slashodot will get paid and the advertisers will get a heavy bill - everyone wins.

    That would be a nice technology to add to Mozilla 1.x where it automatically hides the advertisement and treats it like a click through where advertisers get tired of paying out.
    • Every SlashDotter should click on every advertisement that you see on Slashdot. Slashodot will get paid and the advertisers will get a heavy bill - everyone wins.

      Not necessarily, all of the extra traffic might lead the mid manager types think that banner ads and popups are working. I'm just waiting until the day that they start paying you to tattoo ads on your forehead.

      LK
    • That would be a nice technology to add to Mozilla 1.x where it automatically hides the advertisement and treats it like a click through where advertisers get tired of paying out.

      Actually, I've seriously considered writing a plugin along those lines.

      My idea is more of a "reward" thing .. basically, I don't particularly want to be bothered by ads, but it would be nice if I could click on a toolbar button called something like "reward 'em" and moz would do a virtual click on every ad on the page, but loa

      • Albeit a great idea, in the end this would actually hurt the /.'s of the world because advertisers would find that their advertising dollars are less and less effective, pulling their budgets. Combine that idea with this:

        When you want to buy something, say a w00t shirt from thinkgeek, instead of going straight to thinkgeek, if the user had a small search application that would instantly pull up the thinkgeek banner ad from one of their favorite publishing sites and auto-clicked on it, both the click AND t
  • by 0x0d0a (568518)
    I've yet to see Web-based advertising of Google, much less pop-up advertising. This makes me think that the story is simply wrong, and reversed the roles.

    * Google does not provide "pop-up ads". They provide text-based ads.

    * Google does not pay website owners for AdWords. The owners pay Google to for advertising space on Google.

    This is my 5000th post.
    • by Exodious (49817)
      * Google does not pay website owners for AdWords. The owners pay Google to for advertising space on Google.
      Not true. You can use their adsense program. I think /. uses it sometimes as well.
      http://www.google.com/services/ [google.com] http://www.google.com/adsense [google.com]
    • by nsingapu (658028) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:23AM (#8634282) Homepage
      Google does not pay website owners for AdWords. The owners pay Google to for advertising space on Google.

      Google does pay website owners for displaying adwords, in its adsense program [google.com].

      The problem with the guys attempted extortion is that google charges advertisers more then it pays out on the adds, and as such this guys program, if sucessful, still makes google a buck. That said the amount advertisers pay on adds is determined by a number of criteria such as CTR (which is why googles adds are generally of good quality; better, more relevant, and therefore more clickable adds can be put in top positions for less then irrelevant adds) and as such something of this nature could potentially really screw up advertising related statistics and revenue for google.
  • robots as websurfers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nuffle (540687) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:56AM (#8634005)
    This brings up some other related concerns about having robots browse pages, even when the intent is not malicious.

    Some ads on websites are sold 'per-view' and not 'per-click', but if a web-crawling robot hits it, should it count as a view? Are the authors of these bots stealing from the advertiser?

    A while ago I wrote a bot that posts to slashdot. He even had decent Karma for a while, before getting a bit confused. In any case, my bot would usually post some links in his comments, which could have the effect of altering the target's page ranking on Google (this was not his purpose though). Am I somehow culpable for cheating Google?

    Anyway, the point is that I think robots should have some limited rights to view pages and do human-like behavior on the net.
    • Are the authors of these bots stealing from the advertiser?

      No. Better yet, FUCK NO!

      I'm sick of this shit, people don't get it. Just because someone does something that you don't like, such as skipping commercials in PVR'd tv, using a spider to index webpages or downloading a Britney Spears MP3, that doesn't mean that they're stealing!

  • ...why he thought spammers would use this software to raise costs for Google? What would be in it for them?
  • by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:56AM (#8634010) Homepage
    Anyone remember the company AllAdvantage (was that really the name?) that paid users to click on ads during the dotcom boom? I remember almost everyone was into it ... people were making hundreds, even thousands of dollers per month.

    Of course, none of the ad traffic was legitimate! There were tons and tons of scripts and programs that would click the ads for you ... set it up to run all night, go to sleep, wake up rich in the morning. That's probably why the thing was so popular!

    I remember the comany would implement anti-cheat methods every couple of weeks, even to the point of tracking mouse movements ... the idea being that if the mouse wasn't moving, but clicks were coming in, then it was a cheat.

    Ok, well... as always, cheaters take things to the next level. The ultimate cheat was one that surfed the web from a pre-determined list of web sites, while randomly moving the mouse cursor around the screen, and clicking every couple of seconds. Worked like a charm!

    No more AllAdvantage.

    Google has more sophisticated technology than AllAdvantage though... its almost impossible to cheat google. Even if this dumb-ass really did write a program to click ads on his own sites, google would catch that. There's AdSense partners getting canned every day for suspicion of cheating, when sometimes it's only as simple as an innocent erroneous click on their own ads. It happens... check the adsense forums. I doubt this guy would have been able to execute much of his plan successfully.

    • by CGP314 (672613) <.ten.remlaPyrogerGniloC. .ta. .PGC.> on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:21AM (#8634259) Homepage
      Wow, I forgot all about AllAdvantage. I still have an old website on fortunecity.com plugging that service. (I sadly want to gain control of that site again, but I forgot my username/password)

      As I remember it, you didn't get paid for clicking on the ads, AllAdvantage displayed a banner ad on the bottom of your computer and paid you to `look' at it. But all it really kept track of was if the mouse was moving.

      I had a friend send me a script to move the mouse around while I slept, but AA cought on to that pretty quickly.

      So, I just tied my mouse to a rotating fan. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best.


      -Colin [colingregorypalmer.net]
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:57AM (#8634020)


    a pair of those blinking Nikes while running away from the cops?


    -FL

  • by irokie (697424) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:57AM (#8634023) Homepage
    this never would've happened if they didn't offer google in "hacker" [google.com]
  • by Afty0r (263037) on Monday March 22, 2004 @10:58AM (#8634029) Homepage
    Or is there no incentive for a spammer to use this? Who was this guy going to sell the software to, it has no value except to a person who specificaly wants to devlue Googles adspace.
  • Prior art! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AndroidCat (229562) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:00AM (#8634043) Homepage
    I received spam that tried to generate fake click-throughs a couple years ago. I could dig out a copy of the LART I sent with the code used to the company that was being defrauded by the fakes. (I'm sure they were real impressed with the spammer.) Nothing new here.

    Or is this like the "on the Internet" patents? "I have a spam scam that really works--on Google!"

  • Idiots (Score:3, Funny)

    by screwballicus (313964) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:00AM (#8634048)
    If only the world's more malicious traders in contraband goods would use this method.

    "See, I have this cache of weapons in my house, and I'll sell them off to criminals at some point if you don't give me the money!"

    "Wait...SWAT Team? What SWAT Team?"

    "Outside my house?"
  • Paddy Power. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kiffer (206134)
    A harbinger of organized crime to come? That's a real nice website you have here... a shame if anything were to happen to it..."

    Allready happened in Ireland with Paddy Power

    http://www.business.com/directory/media_and_ente rt ainment/amusement_and_family_entertainment/paddy_p ower_plc/news/
    and
    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD /europe/02/23/online. hackers/

    or just google for Paddy Power and hackers
  • by 404 Clue Not Found (763556) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:02AM (#8634066)
    Does this mean Google will eventually have to resort to using CAPTCHAs [captcha.net] before the ads are clicked? Maybe you'll have to verify your humanity any time you want to search for something. Advertisers will then only be billed 1 time for any number of hits coming from that particular verification. If you want to spam-click other people's ads, you'll have to go through the CAPTCHA system the same number of times.

    I just hope it doesn't have to come to that.

    Perhaps not repeatedly billing hits from the same IP address range would be a more practical solution... until some company releases a virus that does it automatically and clicks on all the competitors' ads from a million different computers across the world.
    • Maybe you'll have to verify your humanity any time you want to search for something.

      Or maybe advertisers will quit trying to quantify per-view or per-link and just pay (or be charged) a flat fee for a time-period run, something more similar to how things work on TV and radio. Rather than making an ad on the web accountable in ways that no other media is required, why not just assume it's getting you market-awareness and presence?

  • even though Google pays websites a certain amount per click, doesn't it also charge the advertisers placing the adwords at least as much?

    Doesn't that mean it's not Google that would be defrauded, but the affected advertisers?
  • by DeionXxX (261398) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:10AM (#8634134)
    I uhhh... made the same program last year in January or so at a client's request. I was skeptical that I could defraud Google's AdWords, but I ended up being successful. Out of respect, I never gave the client's his program even though it worked and sent it over to Google and told them about their vulnerability.

    Defrauding Google, is like defrauding a family member or something...

    I'm glad this ass got caught.

    -- D3X
  • Um,,, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Kano (13027)
    Is this really illegal? Seriously.

    I mean, he created a product. He was planning to sell it, but if Google is better served by that product not making it to market isn't it common sense that they might want to buy it?

    For example, if I developed a way to run my automobiles using water as fuel or to get 200 miles per gallon of gasoline ,I'd offer to sell them to the big oil companies before I went to Ford and GM.

    LK
    • Re:Um,,, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ill_Omen (215625) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:22AM (#8634275)
      The problem is that this guy's (alleged) program's sole purpose was to commit fraud.

      To continue your gasoline example, it'd be like developing a method to fool the 'pay-at-the-pump' system into giving you gas without actually charging your credit card, and then telling the gas station that if they don't give you $100,000, you'll publish the program in the USA Today(tm).
  • Sounds like capitalism to me.
  • Who saw the headline and thought that this was a dupe of that CPA suing Google for the not-quite-right summary of the disciplinary action against him?

    Funny thing is, it doesn't feel very different, even if one is legal and the other is not...
  • by Len (89493) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:26AM (#8634316)
    A harbinger of organized crime to come? That's a real nice website you have here... a shame if anything were to happen to it...
    This has been going on for a while. Just last week, for instance, [theregister.co.uk] some bookie sites in the UK were DoS'd and then received demands for money.
  • by Felinoid (16872) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:32AM (#8634385) Homepage Journal
    Google dosen't just have text link adds on Googles website. They also have ads on OTHER peoples websites and pay those websites for that.

    With out banner adds or pop ups (Thwap the guy who called Google ads POP UPS) you'll need some software on your server to make this work.

    Im guessing this guy hacked this software so he can send bad any data he wants and is expecting Google to act like Microsoft and pay to keep it quiet.

    He picked the wrong target. Find a defect in Windows.. a nasty one.. and bribe Microsoft to stay quiet. They appear all fine with the extrotion scams and all about security by obscurity.
    (I'm joking BTW.. Try that and Microsoft will thump you something nasty AND clame your defect is fraudulent)
  • by mystery_bowler (472698) on Monday March 22, 2004 @11:48AM (#8634542) Homepage
    ...but...

    extortion != organized crime

    This is one programmer acting alone (and stupidly). Organized crime requires an organization. If the programmer had been hired by someone else who had the idea to extort Google but not the technical know-how, this would be organized crime.
  • by mwood (25379) on Monday March 22, 2004 @12:05PM (#8634768)
    I always wonder when I see that seemingly redundant expression. I mean, what would a hardware program look like?

    Okay, *theoretically* there could be a need to distinguish a computer program from, say, a TV program or a spending program or a concert program, but really, how likely is it that a computer programmer is threatening an information service company with information about who's playing second violin tonight?
  • Only with Google (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KalvinB (205500) on Monday March 22, 2004 @02:15PM (#8636261) Homepage
    was I able to make a little over $5 with only 3 clicks on the ads I'm displaying. I used Commission Junction for about a year and racked in 70,000+ impressions with about 7000 click thrus. Didn't make a penny. That's why I went to a subscription based web-site. After a review not too long ago I decided to cut down the number of sections that require a pass. Those major sections that don't require a pass now have Google Ads.

    The rate variance is why Google doesn't tell you how much a click is worth. It varies from a few cents to a few dollars and possibly more depending on the ad. I run a programming site so I get some expensive programming ads.

    Google is being incredibly generous with their AdSense program and I would hope Google would be able to find a way to take out the idiots who try to abuse it rather than cripple the program.

    At the start all ad programs paid decently for click-thrus but morons abused it and morons ran the programs so they couldn't deal with it. Or they simply decided they could make more money if they went pay per sale since the advertisers would get the same amount (or more since web-sites got desperite and would flood visiters) of exposure for a lot less money.

    It's an absolutly retarded program from a publisher's view. You basically have to sell the ad. You have to dedicate the page the ad is on to the ad so that people will buy what the ad is selling. The standard is about a 1.0% click-thru rate. And of those you now have a fraction of a percent that will compulsive buy. I had one text ad with Commission Junction that did a 10% click thru rate. But I would only get paid if someone bought the book right then. Nobody did so I never got paid. But the seller got lots of free publicity.

    One major game development web-site I know has basically signed up for every ad program on the planet and then ran it through their custom script that selects which program to display an ad from to the visitor. I noticed they have Google Adsense worked into the mix as well. I have to wonder how much that stupid monkey and other flashing banners are worth that they don't just stick with Google and dump the rest of the ad systems.

    Ben
  • by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:19PM (#8636847)
    ...when an individual tries to extort Google, the U.S. Secret Service gets involved. Yet when a *business* (cough cough) like SCO tries to do the same thing, its board of directors is free to do as they please. Yep, that's justice.

  • by leviramsey (248057) * on Monday March 22, 2004 @03:42PM (#8637053) Journal

    There's a few gangs based in Eastern Europe that are using Windows machines infected with viruses/worms to DDoS gambling sites unless $5,000/month in protection money is paid up.

    And let's not forget SCO...

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