Polygraph identifies new cybercrime scheme manipulating English teachers living abroad

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Polygraph, a Berlin-based company that has developed cutting edge click-fraud detection and prevention strategies, has identified some of the first instances of a devious new variation of advertising click fraud that reaps tens of billions of pounds every year and involuntarily loops the teachers into an illicit enterprise with the potential to make them criminally liable. Polygraph is the world’s first company to publicly announce this research.

Broadly speaking, click fraud constitutes non-consumer clicks on an advertisement, whether using bots, human-powered click-farms, or by tricking legitimate visitors with misdirection and veiled pop-ups to reap payment from advertisers. Now, overseas cybergangs, using a blend of old fashioned con-artistry with high tech data flow and global commerce, are pocketing up to £150,000 per month - per website – with criminal affiliates typically working dozens of sites simultaneously to amplify the fake clicks.

It’s been estimated by Juniper Research that financial losses due to online advertising click fraud total an incredible £52 billion globally – over £142 million lost every day to fake clicks. While there are a number of well-known techniques that fraudsters use to scam advertisers, one of the newest and also most successful has been documented exclusively by Polygraph.

To start, the criminals locate English teachers living abroad, using sources such as expat websites, job sites or even something like classified ads for a flat-mate. The fraudsters extend a typical job offer to native English speakers which involves representing the ‘company’ to its supposed English-speaking business associates, and entails the teacher opening a publisher account with a US-based ad network. With the English teacher serving as liaison between ad network and the criminal organisation, the group populates their sites with ads and directs the traffic to them through various means.

Whether the teacher recognizes they’re participating in criminal activities is a question. They may be paid a flat salary, but they may also receive a share of the take – up to five figures monthly.  

“In tracking the machinations of the fraud scheme, Polygraph has interviewed some duped teachers who were collecting £30,000 every month,” said Trey Vanes, Chief Marketing Officer for Polygraph. “That kind of money must certainly raise red flags with them. I can say that we have assisted and advised numerous English teachers in breaking their ties with the criminals to stay safe. But of course, there’s hundreds of others who are likely looking the other way.”

Polygraph is a click fraud detection tool for advertisers looking to stop ad fraud. The company goes deeper than just analysing traffic – like criminal investigators they monitor dozens of click fraud gangs and work with fraud victims to piece together emerging criminal strategies. Polygraph provides advertisers with a full perspective on ad fraud impacting them. Targeted keywords are identified; different ad networks compared; bots and bot proxies can be stopped; and details on fake clicks provided so advertisers can get refunds from the ad networks. 

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