Most of the click fraud that takes place today is the result of fairly advanced bots and other programs that are able to browse to sites, click ads, and generate millions in revenue for the users. Recently, however, a group of Chinese nationals were arrested in Thailand on a variety of charges. While being arrested, it was discovered that they were running a low tech (relatively speaking) click fraud operation as well.
The group took hundreds of individual smartphones and placed them in large racks, which were then hooked up to a PC that had software that controlled the phones. From there, the phones would browse the web, clicking ads in such a way that appeared to be very authentic.
Had the group not been arrested for other crimes, they likely could have continued this effort for a very long time to come. While certainly not the largest click fraud operation in existence, this is definitely an interesting way to do it. With used smartphones becoming extremely inexpensive, this ‘lower tech’ method may become more popular in the future, and it will be very difficult to stop.
The operation had thousands of SIM cards, and other equipment used to help ensure they could continue to generate revenue long into the future. They were arrested for overstaying their visa, working without permits, and using unregistered SIM cards. In Thailand, click fraud is not illegal, which is likely why they were operating there.