Android apps used in multi-million dollar ad fraud scheme

A recent investigation by BuzzFeed News has revealed that more than 125 Android apps were used by cybercriminals in an ad fraud scheme that earned millions of dollars by replicating the behaviour of actual users.

The site found that a company called We Purchase Apps had bought legitimate Android apps from developers to use in the largest advertising fraud scheme to date.

Those apps would see their ownership transferred over to shell companies that would continue to manage the apps, while also analyzing user behaviour and interactions with the apps.

That data would then be used to program a network of bots that would be directed toward the purchased apps, realistically spoofing user behaviour using the real data, while helpfully masked by the legitimate users still interacting with the apps.

This reaped millions of dollars in ad revenue from companies paying to advertise with in-app ad networks — including those ran by Google itself.

Google has already been made aware of the scheme, and the company has begun to take action, noting in a separate blog post that it has removed several of the apps involved with the scheme from both the Play Store and its ad network, although some of the larger apps detailed by Buzzfeed’s report — including EverythingMe, an app with over 20 million installations — are still available on the Play Store.

According to Google’s report, the company estimates that roughly $10 million had been stolen through fake views from advertisers, but that number may only represent a small fraction of the damage.

According to AdAge, this week at the ANA (Association of National Advertisers)’s Masters of Marketing conference, legal counsel for the ANA said “…if an agency mailed a letter to a client claiming it did not engage in improper media-buying behavior, and the FBI can prove it indeed did, that could amount to mail fraud… Email communications could result in wire fraud charges… ‘If more than two people at an agency talked together and decided to do it, that’s potentially conspiracy,’ …If they did it more than five times, that’s potentially racketeering.”

Malaysia has done its own fair share to combat the risk of damaging brands reputation in programmatic online advertising by forming a consortium to create an advertising exchange that enhances brand safety, established regulations to protect the interests of the advertisers, provides better transparency and improves viewability.

Bob Hoffman, a former advertising executive has stated that online ad fraud is rapidly growing into one of the biggest organised crime businesses in the world.

MARKETING’s CMO Conference Returns with a Stellar Line-Up

Last year’s sold out conference is back! BIGGER, BETTER and with a NEW awards show to celebrate Malaysia’s best marketers.
Now in its 7th year, the Chief Marketing Officers Conference is a gathering of trailblazers in the Malaysian Marketing sphere.
With a bold yet relevant theme of ‘Goodbye Marketing, Hello Engagement’ this year’s conference will bring you up to speed with what’s going on in the Malaysian marketplace.

The change makers who will take the stage on the 16th of November include:

• Damien Crittenden, VP Client Strategy, Xaxis
• Ben Mahmud, Head Strategy, Business Dev, Petronas Dagangan Bhd
• Dato’ Dr.Hussamuddin Hj. Yaacub, Chairman CEO & Group MD, Karangkraf Media Group
• Lim Imun, General Manager-Marketing Munchworld
• Juliana Chua, GM of Marketing, Pavilion KL
• Tai Kam Leong, Head of Branding & Partnership, Maxis
• Rishi Pahwa, Head of Marketing, Wipro Ginvera Marketing Ent Sdn Bhd
• Schrene Goh, Head of Marketing (Global Market) Malaysia Airlines
• Kenny Wong, CMO Sunrise Berhad ….and more!

The 7th Malaysian CMO Conference & Awards
Date:16th November 2018
Venue: The Grand Ballroom, Sime Darby Convention Centre

For further details on the conference and awards visit: Or contact Amira/Ruby for further details: 03 7726 2588

MARKETING Magazine is not responsible for the content of external sites.

The APPIES is an annual event that presents a rare opportunity for creative, media, digital and marketing agencies or brands to present their best campaigns to the industry.

This is the only event where Live Presentations meets Live Judging.

Similar to TED Talks, The APPIES is the chance for great presenters with outstanding work to show it off to some of the industry’s most important industry leaders.

This year’s winners will receive Gold, Silver or Bronze trophies for 21 categories, and 6 special Best of Best categories (red trophies) that require no submissions!

Campaign entries must have run between June 2023 to May 2024

Submissions Deadline
30th June 2024

APPIES Festival – Judging & Presentations
11th – 12th July 2024 (Malaysia)


Download Event PDF
Submit Entries Here

Subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates in the marketing and advertising scene