Fake likes and Play Store bans: How fraud hit the headlines in May

Samuel Harries

May 17, 2019

If the fight against fraud is a game of cat and mouse, what happens when you find a whole nest of rodents invading your home? In our latest roundup, we take a look at developing stories where fraudsters have recently been caught red-handed. We’re also sharing an update on the most prevalent types of ad fraud, thanks to our latest App Trends Report.

Google removes Play Store developer with over half a billion app installs

Google has instituted one of its biggest ever Play Store bans

Google has begun removing apps created by DO Global, a major Chinese Android developer partly owned by Baidu, from the Play Store. This comes hot on the heels of a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered large-scale click fraud by DO Global apps.

“At least six of DO Global’s apps, which together have more than 90 million downloads from the Google Play store have been fraudulently clicking on ads to generate revenue,” wrote BuzzFeed’s Craig Silverman. In fact, 46 apps from DO Global can no longer be found on the Play store, and their apps have also stopped offering ad inventory via Google's AdMob network. This marks one of the biggest bans Google has ever implemented against an app developer.

Bot company faces lawsuit for selling fake Instagram engagements

Social Media Series Limited automated tens of thousands of likes on a daily basis

Facebook has filed a lawsuit against Social Media Series Limited, a New Zealand-based company, for selling automated engagements (fake likes, shares and follows) to Instagram users. In her statement, Jessica Romero, Facebook’s Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, says that the company is “sending a message that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our services, and we will act to protect the integrity of our platform.”

Whether it’s users wanting to climb the social media ladder or companies looking to “fake it ‘til they make it” with a falsified online presence, Social Media Series Limited had a pricing plan that offered up to 2,000 fake likes for $99 per week. Social Media Series Limited is believed to have earned around $9.4 million through fake social media engagement – highlighting the enormous problem bot fraud presents.

New data shows Click Injection fraud is still the most prevalent threat

Our app trends report reveals the most popular ad fraud methods

At Adjust, this week marked the release of the 2019 Global App Trends Report, drawing from over 7 billion installs and 120 billion sessions, to highlight the types of fraud you need to have high on your radar.

We found that Click Injection (48%) fraud is still the most common threat, followed by Click Spam (26%), SDK Spoofing (17%) and Fake installs (9%). With almost half of all total rejected installs, it’s more important than ever to understand click injection fraud and the threat it poses to your ad spend.

To find out more, including the verticals most affected by fraud, download the full report here.

And in case you missed it, Andreas Naumann, Adjust’s Head of Fraud, also features in the latest issue of Liftoff’s Mobile Heroes. You can also find a Q&A with Andreas here.

From SDK spoofing and Click Injection to in-app bot abuse, the fight against fraud is widespread and ongoing. If you’d like to learn more about how Adjust is leading the fight against fraud, take a look at our fraud prevention suite. We are also proud founders of the Coalition Against Ad Fraud (CAAF), and combat in-app bot fraud with Unbotify.

For further insights on how mobile fraud is making headlines, don’t forget to return for our regular roundups.

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