Oct 23, 2018

125 Android apps caught up in million dollar ad fraud scheme

Photo: S3studio/Getty Images

125 Android apps have been caught up in an Android ad fraud scheme that possibly stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ad dollars, according to a BuzzFeed News investigation by Craig Silverman. A fraud detection firm, Pixalate, first caught on to the plot in June.

What happened: People sold their legitimate apps to a company called We Purchase Apps, but were quickly transferred to shell companies and the human users on the legitimate apps had their behavior tracked unwittingly. Fraudsters then programmed that information to create a bot network that would be used to generate fake traffic that effectively stole ad dollars from advertisers.

Impact: This means millions of Android users who downloaded these apps, some of which were targeted at children, had their app use tracked.

The tech: Because the bot networks mimicked human behaviors, they bypassed fraud detection programs.

The big picture: This highlights the potential downfalls in the digital advertising world; brands can be duped out of sizable sums of money, and fraud detection schemes may need to become more sophisticated to try preventing massive fraud plots like this in the future. It further raises questions about how rigorously and frequently app stores review their apps and developers — Apple has also been under fire for an app that covertly transferred data to China.

Go deeper: Read the full BuzzFeed News investigation

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China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown

People wearing facemasks stand near Yangtze River in Wuhan. Photo: HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

China has lifted its lockdown of Wuhan, the city in Hubei province where the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in December, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: As cases surged in January, China took the draconian step of sealing off the city of 11 million and shutting down its economy — a response that was viewed at the time as only possible in an authoritarian system, but which has since been adopted by governments around the world.

Go deeperArrow14 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 1,381,014— Total deaths: 78,269 — Total recoveries: 292,973Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1 p.m. ET: 378,289 — Total deaths: 11,830 — Total recoveries: 20,003Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill
  4. Federal government latest: Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week — Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. States update: New York death toll surged to its highest one-day total as state predicts a plateau in hospitalizations.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The race to reopen America
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill

Glenn Fine, acting Pentagon watchdog

President Trump on Monday replaced the Pentagon's acting Inspector General Glenn Fine, who had been selected to chair the panel overseeing the rollout of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill passed last month, Politico first reported.

Why it matters: A group of independent federal watchdogs selected Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, but Fine's removal from his Pentagon job prevents him from being able to serve in that position — since the law only allows sitting inspectors general to fill the role.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy