Report: Russian cybergang scored millions in fake-ad scam

Features Associated Press

A firm that specializes in detecting online-ad fraud says a Russian criminal group has run a massive digital-ad fraud over the past few months.

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It may have cost brands, and potentially media companies, hundreds of millions of dollars.

The New York company, White Ops, said in a Wednesday report that the "Methbot" operation made it look like hundreds of thousands of people, mostly in the U.S., were watching real video ads from real companies on more than 6,000 fake websites that mimicked well-known publishers, including CNN, ESPN, Vogue and The New York Times. Nobody was actually watching.

Worries about ad fraud and wasted spending could make it harder for legitimate websites to make money from ads.