Heads up all Google AdSense users. A new email extortion scam is in the wild that threatens website owners serving banner ads through Google AdSense to pay.
Google AdSense Extortion Scam
Reportedly, a new email extortion scam indirectly exploits Google AdSense to threaten website owners. According to KrebsOnSecurity, the scammers behind this extortion campaign demand bitcoin worth $5000. In case of failure to pay the money, the attackers threaten to bombard the victim’s site with fake traffic, eventually leading to the Google AdSense account ban.
Following is the text of the email as shared by Krebs.
Very soon the warning notice from above will appear at the dashboard of your AdSense account undoubtedly! This will happen due to the fact that we’re about to flood your site with huge amount of direct bot-generated web traffic with 100% bounce ratio and thousands of IP’s in rotation — a nightmare for every AdSense publisher.
The scammers have been generous enough in their email to explain the attack method. They explain that they will continue using their bots to target the website leading to an ad limit on the publisher’s account. That’s how the scammers take advantage of Google’s strict policies for AdSense against fake web traffic. Their email further reads that they’ll continue to target the victim’s website to make sure that the site owner’s account, after initial suspension, gets banned for good.
The victim who shared this email message initially deemed this email as baseless. However, the subsequent AdSense traffic statistics made the victim realize that it wasn’t so baseless.
Recommendations From Google
In a statement to Krebs, Google explained that they have set up appropriate measures to fend off such exploitations.
We hear a lot about the potential for sabotage, it’s extremely rare in practice, and we have built some safeguards in place to prevent sabotage from succeeding.
They have implemented detection measures to filter most invalid traffic from the system before it impacts the advertiser and publisher. They further assure assisting the publishers who likely fall prey to such scams.
They advise publishers affected by such scams to avoid communicating with the scammers and contact Google. Their Ad Traffic Quality Team will then evaluate the situation accordingly.
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