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Ad fraud scheme costing the industry millions detected by DoubleVerify

Digital media measurement platform DoubleVerify has uncovered an advertising fraud scheme that has been attempting to steal over $8 million in ad spend across connected TV and mobile video each month.

The ‘ViperBot’ has been enabling fraudsters to strip code that verifies ad impressions and then conceal and redirect the code through real devices to hide the ongoing fraudulent behaviour. The bot is continuing to spoof more than five million devices and up to 85 million ad requests per day.

“ViperBot is one of the most sophisticated fraud schemes that DV has ever identified,” said Mark Zagorski, CEO at DoubleVerify. “The dynamic nature of fraud schemes underscores the fact that advertisers need a partner who is laser focused on protecting their interests – and who operates independent of the media transaction to remain neutral when determining the quality of inventory.

“Efficient and transparent media buying leads to better outcomes for brands. By uncovering ViperBot, we are able to give brands greater confidence in their digital investment while ensuring campaign performance.”

The fraudsters are using the bot to not only remove the verification tags from the ad being delivered; they are also reinserting the tags inside cheap ad slots on real devices to prevent being detected by measurement providers.

When DoubleVerify identified what was happening, it blocked the falsified impressions and ad requests, but the verification tags of all verification providers have been affected.

“As fraudsters continue to evolve and aggressively target high-value inventory types, measurement providers need to catch up,” said Jack Smith, Chief Product Officer at DoubleVerify. “We’re seeing this happen in CTV and mobile inventory, where higher CPMs make it a more attractive target, but this new redirection tactic can be applied across many environments.”