Spotting Solo Ad Fraud

Spotting Solo Ad Fraud

I’ll be covering several ways that scammers send fraudulent clicks and discuss ways to detect these methods.

Knowing how some solo ad sellers send fraudulent clicks will help to protect yourself from them.

So let’s move on and cover several of these fraudulent ways to send bogus clicks.

First let me explain what hitbots and clickbots are.

Hitbots and clickbots generate fake traffic. These bots are usually installed on thousands of virus infected computers. The controller of these bots can send commands to them to click specific links and even submit email addresses on subscription forms. Sadly, these bots are getting smarter every day.

Most bots are aimed at generating fraudulent ad revenue from clicking on PPC banners and links. But the scamming solo ad seller is now using these bots to generate fraudulent solo ad clicks.

A botnet is a group of hitbots or clickbots. Most of these botnets originate in countries like China, Estonia, Singapore and Nigeria, but can be anywhere.

It can be extremely difficult to identify bot generated traffic. But I will share with you some things to look for so you are ahead of their illegal game.

While looking at your stats, divide the delivery of a solo ad into time intervals. Then calculate the opt-in percentage of clicks for each interval of time. If these percentages remain the same, there is a huge chance you are receiving bot traffic. During a normal solo ad, these percentages should vary.

Also look for set patterns. For example, a click coming in every 1100 seconds 4 times in a row is not natural and is most likely a bot.

Most bots do not support javascript. So if you have something like Google Analytics on your page, you can compare those stats with your tracker stats. If the Google Analytics count is a lot lower than your tracker, you’re most likely receiving bot traffic.

Now let’s look at a few ways to identify fake traffic.

Watch for email addresses being basically mumbo-jumbo.

Keep any eye out for multiple hits from the same browser type with the same plugins installed.

Watch for traffic spikes and then investigate the IPs the traffic was sent from. If they are all or a large part of them are coming from commercial data centers instead of ISPs and email providers, the traffic is most likely fake.

The easiest way to investigate an IP address is to type it in Google and do a search. You will be surprised at what information is returned.

Let’s move on to proxies. Proxies are the fraudulent scammers paradise. There are several types of proxies that scammers use.

Anonymous proxies are used by scammers to hide their tracks and produce unique looking clicks from the same computer and/or person. These can be real people or automated programs clicking.

A scammer can use hundreds of these anonymous proxies to deliver hundreds of unique looking clicks all from the same computer.

The only ways to detect anonymous proxies is by doing a lookup on IP addresses to see if any come back to a known anonymous proxy or seeing if the host name belongs to one.

Sometimes servers accidentally leave their proxies open to exploitation. Or are hacked to gain access. These open proxies can be used by scammers to deliver fraudulent clicks.

They can use a network of hitbots running on compromised computers that rotate through open proxies to appear as unique clicks. This way a single hitbot can appear to be hundreds of unique clicks.

Free proxies are usually browser based and normally used by people wanting to surf the web in privacy. But, the scammer can exploit the use of these just like anonymous and open proxies to deliver fraudulent clicks.

One way to detect free proxies is by doing a lookup on IP addresses to see if any come back to a known free proxy or seeing if the host name belongs to one.

Many sites like Fiverr sell traffic gigs for around $5. These are 99% of the time selling bogus traffic. I have never seen a single gig on any of these sites that actually sell quality traffic.

Many solo ad sellers will purchase these cheap traffic packages to resell to unsuspecting solo ad buyers. Many will also use this mostly bot traffic to do click banking.

Solo ad sellers that do this are nothing but pure scammers.

Some of the gigs actually mix in a little safelist traffic to attempt to disguise the bot traffic they are sending. Either way you look at it, the traffic is fraudulent.

A good way to detect this type of traffic is it comes in very quickly or in spurts. Also look for email addresses that have noticeable patterns in them.

If you see any of these, demand your money back and put the seller on your do not buy from again list.

Amazon Turk is a place you can pay people to perform actions. Fraudulent solo ad sellers will pay people through Amazon Turk or a similar service to click links and opt-in using disposable email accounts.

They charge you 40 cents a click and pay these people 1 cent a click plus 2 cents to opt-in. WOW, nice profit margin, if it was not pure fraud.

This type of traffic is extremely hard to detect. Watch for traffic and opt-ins coming in spurts.

Also watch for high opt-in rates but extremely low download rates of your freebie.

When the traffic is questionable, punt! Just don’t buy from the solo ad seller again.

Status check sites are used by scammers to generate fake fraudulent traffic. They have auto submitters that submit your link to them and call it solo ad traffic.

Look at your referrer and host name stats for sites like:

Is it down right now
Down for everyone or just me
Check website status
Down right now
I web tool
URL checker

If you see more than a few in your tracker stats you are most likely being scammed. Demand your money back and never do business with the seller again.

Fraudulent traffic can also be sent through iFrames. An iFrame is a web page embedded inside another web page. An iFrame can be set so it’s so small you can’t see it by viewing the web page it is on.

Scammers can embed your link in an iFrame on a site that has lots of traffic. It appears that the traffic is coming to your squeeze page when actually it’s not.

Fake fraudulent traffic can be generated using this method.

Scammers can do this on sites they control and also on sites they or someone else has hacked.

You can detect this type of fraudulent traffic by viewing your stats. What you will see is strange referrer information. If it appears that the traffic is coming from a site or sites, go view a few of them. Then view the source of the page to see if your tracking link is embedded in a hidden iFrame.

You have to catch this fast though. Scammers will add the iFrame and then remove it quickly once fraudulent clicks have been sent.

Also look at any URLs you find in iFrame tags as they may be redirects that actually go to your tracker link.

This type of fraudulent traffic is usually used with other types of low quality or fraudulent traffic since it does not produce any opt-ins.

I hope this information helps you to identify fraudulent clicks. With your new knowledge you can now better protect yourself from solo ad scammers.

Here’s to your success in the solo ad business while avoiding the scammers.

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