A Russian national has been sentenced to ten years in US prison for orchestrating the ‘Methbot’ online advertising scam that duped brands into paying for ads on spoofed websites viewed by swarms of bots.
A two-year investigation led by the US Department of Justice identified Aleksandr Zhukov as the mastermind behind the complex fraud, which involved creating spoof variants of The New York Times and The New York Daily News websites.
The self-anointed ‘king of fraud’ sat at the head of a criminal enterprise employing programmers to create and manage bot farms powered by rented servers to orchestrate the illegal scheme.
Despite no human ever viewing a single ad, the criminal gang raked in $7m for its efforts, according to US Attorney Breon Peace, who said: “Sitting at his computer keyboard in Bulgaria and Russia, Zhukov boldly devised and carried out an elaborate multi-million-dollar fraud against the digital advertising industry, and victimized thousands of companies across the United States.”
Zhukov has been sentenced to ten years behind bars for his crimes and ordered to hand over $3.8m in cash.