Exposed ad fraud cheats on Sonic, Honda and Chase

Two months ago, we launched a series of investigations “12-letter fraud”, about the scheme of major fraud, organized by the company Pop Ads. The main element of the scheme is the daily created 12 letter random domains (up to a dozen per day), sending in first 3-5 days millions of referral visit to sites with advertising. It began operating in August 2016 and still continues its activity. No verification company has yet discovered this scheme, on the contrary, this traffic has been verified by several of them. In total, during this time, more than a billion fake visitors were sent to ad fraud sites, made dozens of billions of forged ad impressions.

In the first part of this investigation, we found another recipient of 12 letter traffic, digital assets of Matador Web Group. These 9 sites, focusing on video advertising, made over 100 million fake ad views in 2017. But in addition to ad fraud, this group redirected this artificial traffic to clients of the digital ad company.

For this purpose, using these sites, a chain of traffic laundering was created. The recipient of these visits was the technical domain, owned by AdBistro, a content recommendation platform, a part of the large digital marketing technology company Adknowledge. It, in turn, sold this traffic to its customers. Thus, publishers instead of the human audience bought artificial traffic from 12 letter domains, laundered through Matador websites.

This traffic was verified by ComScore and Integral Ad Science, AdBistro partners in ad fraud detection and brand safety. We found that the founder and CEO of Matador Web Group Victor Ahumada, prior to the scheme above, was the client of Integral Ad Science.

11 Chase, 4 Sonic, 3 Honda video per 40 minutes ad on traffic laundry site

00:25 Sonic

01:50 Sonic

02:12 Chase

03:34 Sonic

03:52 Sonic

05:22 Chase

07:16 Chase

07:58 True Religion

09:39 Chase

13:46 Honda

15:41 Chase

18:25 Honda

18:58 Honda

20:52 Chase

24:30 Chase

28:26 Chase

32:22 Chase

35:46 Chase

39:18 Chase