$7 Million Digital Advertising Scam: Russian Man Convicted

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Self-Professed ‘King of Fraud’ Aleksandr Zhukov Ran Ads on Fake Sites

$7 Million Digital Advertising Scam: Russian Man Convicted
Russian national Aleksandr Zhukov (Photo: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York)

A Russian man has been convicted of bilking advertisers out of more than $7 million in payments for online ads that were never viewed by real humans.

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On Friday, Aleksandr Zhukov, 41, was convicted by a federal jury of four charges – including wire fraud and money laundering – as part of the so-called Methbot scheme.

The gang allegedly referred to its scheme as “Metan” – the Russian word for methane – although it’s also been referred to as Methbot by the FBI and prosecutors, and later as Media Methane, which was the name of the company owned by Zhukov, with offices in Russia and Bulgaria.

Zhukov and other members of his operation secured agreements with advertising networks to display their ads on sites, then earned a commission for every ad that someone viewed.

But according to court documents, from September 2014 through December 2016, Zhukov and his associates instead created fake sites, and programmed data centers to create fake users, to make it appear that real individuals were viewing the advertising.

“Zhukov represented to others that he ran a legitimate ad network that delivered advertisements to real human internet users accessing real internet web pages,” according to a superseding indictment…