Security researchers at Sentrant Security have discovered and disrupted an ongoing mobile in-app advertising fraud scheme operated through MoPub, Twitter’s mobile advertising platform. Based on the findings of the researchers, there have been nearly 250 apps which were widely available via Google Play Store and affected by the ad fraud. After being notified by Sentrant Security of the scheme, Google removed all rogue apps from Play Store.
This scheme is considered by experts as one of the most sophisticated ad fraud schemes. It had targeted mobile apps in hundreds of thousands of devices running code that runs non-viewable ads in the background. The findings suggest that this fraud cost more than $250,000 in revenue per day, involved over 20 shell companies and affected over 500,000 installs on consumer’s Android devices.
This report should not come as a surprise as the Digital Marketing Community is plagued by a surge of ad fraud activity used to exploit the ecosystem and generate revenues for fake or non- human traffic. While new standards are expected to standardize the industry and increase the accountability and transparency in the ad supply chain, this case demonstrates how ad fraud is ever-evolving in its complexity and sophistication.