June 22, 2016 | by Vuk Stan

How Florida Based Scammers Hit Ad Giants

Back in 2014, a Florida company were outed for using a series of fraudulent websites to dupe some of the world's largest brands out of mega bucks. The click fraud scammers targeted Orea, GlaxoSmithKline, Burger King, and Sprint, among others before simply disappearing.

 

While many online scammers favor highly sophisticated tactics, the Florida hacker ring's plans differed. Forming a seemingly legitimate company called Client Connections Media, they put together an inventory of 300 different sites and sold their advertising space to the huge companies previously mentioned.

The sites performed exceptionally for the advertisers, seemingly attracting many thousands of visits. It later transpired that these clicks were generated by a series of advanced bots acting as genuine site visitors.

 

A Robotic Threat

During their time at large, CCM managed to charm several high profile clients into making deals with them. Jason Rubenstein of Barons Media even met one of the scammers face-to-face, a Chris Bradley. Rubenstein commented on his knowledge of the industry, his intelligence, and the strong relationship their companies appeared to have together.

 

As part of the deal CCM and Barons brokered the publishing platform had to pass a series of tests performed by third-party software providers, aimed at discovering click fraud scammers. Surprisingly, for such a simple premise, the publisher's data passed all the required examinations.

 

In the end, the scam was shut down in March, 2014, owing to the detective work of online security firm Telemetry. They noticed that the majority of CCM's clicks came from just five high-end business ISPs. This immediately aroused suspicion because the companies used largely catered for non consumer customers, meaning the likelihood that the visits were human were slim.

 

Vanished Without a Trace

Immediately following the publishing of the Telemetry report, the CCM websites went offline, including its own company site. Chris Bradley also seemingly went into hiding too, with his phone going dead, his email auto replying “undelivered” messages, and the deactivation of his LinkedIn profile.