In a scathing attack, technology entrepreneur Mark Cuban recently wrote of how Internet search engines are so bad at fighting click fraud they might as well be the bad guys' "bag man."
Click fraud, loosely defined, is when fraudulent means are used to inflate the number of times an Internet ad is clicked on. The practice usually forces advertisers to pay more than they actually should. A bag man is a term for criminal co-conspirator.
Why should anyone care what Cuban says? For one, Cuban's "Why I think click fraud is far greater than imagined" essay describes the same kind of sinking feeling shared by many businesses or individuals buying Internet ads these days.
And, while Cuban sometimes does and says outlandish things, he has an audience taking it all in. The nearly 100 comments below his post suggest a rather large following.
Cuban's view about click fraud is an especially bleak one. He thinks search engines are now overwhelmed by the same Internet black hats responsible for unleashing viruses and other modern-day Internet ills.
Watch out, he warns, because they will or already have discovered how easy it is to "break the law" via click fraud.
"The Bad Guys have figured out that they look a lot more legit getting checks from Google than trying to wash 10k dollars in cash delivered in a bag," Cuban wrote. "Search engine companies, even with the maybe 20 best and brightest assigned to the problem, are no match for the legions of hackers around the world who see the easy money and are happy to grab it."
Looked at another way, Cuban is also adding to the unsettled nature of the extent of the click fraud problem. It seems that nearly every two weeks, another study comes out with findings that an even larger percentage of Internet advertising clicks, and as a consequence search engine revenue, turns out to be fraudulent.
Yet, search engines believe the click fraud problem isn't that bad, or in the case of Google, that it's under control.