The tools we’ve discussed in our previous posts make it easy for criminals to make money online. These criminals generate traffic and sell it. They create websites and put advertisements on it while browsing their own website to have a reasonable click-through-rate. They click on an advertisement to arrive at the landing page and fill in and submit contact details, using data bought on the dark web. It’s a no-brainer that each of their proxy servers need to be in the same geo-location as the contact data they are submitting.
For them the best part is that, once someone arrives at the landing page or even submits the contact form, the lead-providing party will be compensated greatly for bringing in a new customer. The loser is the organization that received a phony lead or sells a product bought with stolen credit card data and gets a charge back after a few weeks.
The Risks for Advertisers
In addition to a worthless, phony lead, the organization also received personal data from an individual who has been mistakenly contacted by the company’s call center. The individual will likely have zero interest in the product. When a company calls this uninterested person, they are now in violation of the TCPA in the US. This is a big financial risk for the company as each call may be fined $500 – $1,500 per call, which can be increased to $25,000 per TCPA violation if the FCC gets involved in the case.
Bots of the Future
Once the text-generating AI systems are perfected – and it is just a matter of time before someone else is able to achieve what OpenAI did – you’ll be able to respond to social media messages without ever having touched your keyboard. This will enable you to influence large groups of individuals. What’s more, this will be able to work together with generative adversarial networks (GANs) which will be able to perfectly simulate human browsing behavior preventing behavioral profiling. And we’ll be seeing horizontally scaled botnets using the tools from the toolbox to cheat this system and many others.
Of course, as technology evolves, detection and prevention will evolve accordingly. It has to. And it is only a matter of time until cheating this system is considered a crime with serious sanctions, just like cheating a casino is something of the past. For this to happen, more and more businesses need to realize that fraud is not “just the cost of doing business”. CMOs need to be able to tell their CEOs that their companies are being robbed (and we often hear that they can’t do that without getting into trouble).
It’s not an advertiser’s fault that a criminal stole from them – they are innocent victims of fraud. But they need to talk about it and they need to get proper detection solutions in so they can fight it moving forward and get it the attention it needs to make it a crime.