US recoups $15m from advertising fraud scheme

Authorities in the US have revealed they have retrieved more than $15m in illicit proceeds derived from an advertising fraud scheme known as ‘3ve’.

According to Security Week, 3ve consisted of three different sub-operations – the Kovter botnet and two other operations. The 3ve scheme was dismantled in 2018, when authorities announced charges against Aleksandr Isaev of Russia, and Sergey Ovsyannikov and Yevgeniy Timchenko of Kazakhstan.

The publication noted that Ovsyannikov and Timchenko were arrested in 2018 and extradited to the US where they pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.

Between December 2015 and October 2018, the three ran the fraud scheme which relied on a botnet of infected computers to perpetrate digital adverting fraud.

Using tens of command-and-control servers, the three accessed over 1.7 infected in the US and abroad as well as using hidden browsers on these machines to load ads into fabricated webpages. The scheme led to billions of ad views being falsified.

The Department of Justice said that organisations paid over $29m for ads never viewed by real users.

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