Click fraud occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating an improper charge per click. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud whether they like it or not.
Use of a computer to commit this type of fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions, for example as covered by Penal code 502 in California and the Computer Misuse Act 1990 in the United Kingdom. There have been arrests relating to click fraud with regard to malicious clicking in order to deplete a competitor’s advertising budget.
In 2004, a California man created a software program that he claimed could let spammers defraud Google out of millions of dollars in fraudulent clicks. Authorities said he was arrested while trying to blackmail Google for $150,000 to hand over the program.
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