Microsoft files lawsuits accusing a Web publishing company as well as unnamed defendants of taking part in an emerging type of click fraud known as click laundering.
Microsoft filed two separate lawsuits the week of May 17 describing an
emerging form of fraud affecting online advertising.
The lawsuits, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of
Washington, accuse a company called RedOrbit and unnamed defendants of being
involved in click fraud-related activity Microsoft calls "click
ad fraud is evolving in sophistication all the time," Brad Smith,
senior vice president and general counsel for Microsoft, said in a statement. "Fighting
it demands vigilance and dedication to an honest and secure online marketplace.
We believe that a trusted marketplace is critical to Internet commerce, and
Microsoft will continue to take aggressive action working with industry and law
enforcement to protect our platforms, customers and advertisers."
According to Microsoft, click laundering makes invalid ad clicks appear to
originate from legitimate sources. After click fraudsters trick unsuspecting
users into visiting Websites and unknowingly clicking on advertisements, click
laundering can disguise the origin of the invalid clicks by using scripts
and other methods to dodge fraud detection systems.
The activity detailed in the lawsuits was uncovered, according to Microsoft,
after a dramatic and irregular growth in click traffic on two sites within
Microsoft's AdCenter network. Often botnets are powering click fraud scams, as
indicated by research from Click Forensics that tied botnets to more than 40
percent of all click fraud in the third quarter of 2009.
Microsoft described the suits as part of an ongoing attack on threats to the
online advertising ecosystem. Earlier the same week, the company settled a
lawsuit filed in 2009 involving allegations of click fraud in auto insurance
verticals and the "World of Warcraft" online game. Terms of the
settlement are confidential, but Microsoft described the settlement as