Practical Ecommerce

Click Fraud: What To Do When You’ve Been Cheated

So you think you’re a victim of click fraud, and the question is now what? Well, it’s time to play “cyber detective” and get refunds from pay-per-click (PPC) engines for the wasted dollars. But keep in mind, because click fraud eats away search engine revenue in the form of reimbursed clicks, the burden of proof lies entirely on you.

In order to rectify the situation, the first step is to gather all the information about fraud occurrences you feel may have occurred. You will need campaign and adgroup names, IP addresses, referring pages, geographic origin of the clicks in question, keywords that were searched for, the number and time range of the clicks and any other relevant data required by your search engine to process a claim. All of that information can easily be obtained from most third-party web analytics tools or from your server logs.

The second step is to write a paragraph or two describing the abnormality in your PPC account, any click trends you may have noticed and what makes you feel it was in fact click fraud.

The third step is to compile an easy-to-understand email with all the data you gathered along with your comments from step two. The email(s) are then sent to the search engine or entity from which you purchased the PPC ad. Make sure you objectively approach this issue and have valid data to back up your claim. Feel free to use general support emails or contact forms to send out all the information.

In a day or so, you will most likely get a response with either an acknowledgment of click fraud in your account, including relevant refund information; a standard response about further investigation; or a refusal of your click fraud claim.

Unfortunately, the last scenario is typically the most common one, however, never take the first “no” for a final answer. Be sure to inquire further about their decision and always ask for clarification as to why they feel they’re right and you’re wrong. Most importantly, don’t forget to follow up on your claims. Generally, it takes a couple of emails and/or phone calls to receive a sound response.

Finally, keep this in mind: If you feel you’re a victim of click fraud there is no reason why your ad dollars should be wasted, no matter what your budget is. Be patient, but persistent and get the reimbursements you deserve.

Greg Laptevsky

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  1. Legacy User June 14, 2007 Reply


    These are terrific and very useful links.

    Where did you find them?

    I also think that some people may find this useful:

    It's a report that outlines a lot of Google's methodology for fighting fraud.

    Best Regards,
    Boris Mordkovich

    — *Boris Mordkovich*

  2. Legacy User June 12, 2007 Reply

    Do you have any recommendations as to who I should contact at Google/Yahoo with my click fraud claim?

    — *Zhorik Muflonovich*

  3. Legacy User June 12, 2007 Reply

    Excellent points Greg! The process to detect and monitor click fraud can be very time consuming.

    Consider joining the Click Fraud Network (over 4,000 advertisers have joined to date) at, add page tags to your site, and monitor click fraud and click quality for free (up to 100,000 ad clicks per month). The reports are easy to use and we make the process for submission of refunds simple.

    Paul Leury
    Director, Click Fraud Network

    — *Click Fraud Network*

  4. Legacy User June 12, 2007 Reply


    Please feel free to use the following contact form/email to submit your claim:




    — *Greg*

  5. Legacy User June 13, 2007 Reply

    For developers, I would recommend the following peer review computing papers for developing detection for Click Fraud:

    #1) "Duplicate Detection in Click Streams"

    #2) "Using Association Rules for Fraud Detection in Web Advertising Networks"

    The algorithm described in reference #2 "Association Rule Mining" (ARM) is available as open sources on the internet implemented in many computer languages, just do a Google on it.

    This area of fraud detection falls in the domain of data-mining, so for Java developers, check out the most popular Machine-Learning & Data-Mining Java open source project for WEKA here:

    "Weka 3: Data Mining Software in Java"

    WEKA software contain more data-mining (state-of-the-art) algorithsm than any commercial tool available to day, since the algorithms are coming straight from the lab into WEKA. Global researchers contribute new algoirthms to WEKA project on a regular basis and this is why WEKA is far ahead in terms of state-of-the-art algorithm implementations compared to commercial tool.

    The "Association Rule Mining" algorithm described in reference #2 is available in WEKA.

    — *Falafulu Fisi*

  6. Legacy User May 27, 2008 Reply

    i am a victim of a fraud/ scam

    — *Teresa Johnson*