Click Fraudster Wins – Eluding Fed Felony at Trial

It was supposed to be the click fraud trial of the century. For the first time ever, a click fraud operator of botnets from Europe was extradited from the Netherlands to Brooklyn facing 70 years in federal prison if…

If the Feds could win their case.

Last week in the Eastern District Court of New York (USA v. Gasperini, Docket# 1:16-cr-00441) the Feds lost.

Great pains were taken to track down the click fraud operator, then obtain extradition, capture and take the fraudster into custody, and then send him back to Brooklyn for what advertisers hoped to be the first of many click fraud convictions.

But he was acquitted on all felony charges. Every single one.

The key evidence of emails were not admissible due to a legal technicality, and actual click fraud (which is hard to ultimately source) was not provable with the available evidence.

“This is a huge blow” said C3 Metrics advertising attribution measurement CEO Mark Hughes. “if after all that investigation, and all those prosecutors…this results in a one year misdemeanor, the signal it sends to click fraudsters is that the odds of getting caught and going to jail are slim to none. So they will continue doing it.”

Click fraud will go on. Authorities have demonstrated they can neither police nor prosecute it.

It’s up to the industry to police itself. But here lies the rub: policing click-fraud reduces revenue.

And as a sell-side DSP exec said, “Revenue prevention departments aren’t popular when you need to make revenue.”

Thus the prisoner’s dilemma (unless you’re a click fraudster).