Joel Khalili, 11 July 2021
Earlier this year, the self-described “king of fraud” stood trial in a federal court in Brooklyn, New York. Aleksandr Zhukov was said to have defrauded the advertising industry of upwards of $7 million dollars, in what has been described as one of the most sophisticated ad fraud campaigns to date.
Although he pled not guilty, unlike his co-conspirators, Zhukov was ultimately convicted of four charges related to wire fraud and money laundering, and now awaits sentencing.
According to security company Human, which played a central role in bringing Zhukov to justice, the verdict sets an important precedent that will change the economics of fraud and go some way to discouraging future campaigns.
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More interesting than the verdict, though, are the techniques Zhukov and his team abused to game the digital advertising system. In short, he commandeered data center infrastructure and infected consumer devices to create armies of bots capable of generating billions of fake ad views per day.