We tend to think of click farms as tools that victimize online advertisers by facilitating fake clicks on their ads. Click farms do exactly that. But a recent case in India shows that scammers do not care who they hit. Click farms don’t just go after online advertisers. They go after the local labor force, too.
Reports out of Lucknow say a local woman was scammed out of Rs 4 lakh (approximately $5K USD) by a click farm that offered to pay her for going online and liking 40 videos per day. The company would send her links to the videos in question.
Like so many work-from-home scams, the victim thought she had found a job that would let her make good money from home by spending a few hours behind the computer. She later discovered that she was being robbed blind. Unfortunately, she is just another victim in a long-running scam that seeks to take advantage of unsuspecting people.
Click farms are put together by ad fraud scammers with the intention of ripping off online advertisers. They hire low-paid, unskilled workers to use computers or smartphones to click online ads, like videos, display mobile ads, etc. Every click, display, and like earns the scammer money.
The makers of the Fraud Blocker ad fraud protection software say that click farms are run by criminals who set up fake ad platforms through which online advertisers publish their ads. The platforms exist for no other reason but to bill customers. The greater number of clicks they can generate, the more the scammers can bill.
Products like Fraud Blocker cannot completely stop fraudulent activity from click farms, but they can make it easier for online advertisers to spot fraud as it occurs. Then they can take steps to fight back, including blacklisting suspect IP addresses and excluding known users from seeing their ads.
Getting back to the case in India, it is not unusual for scammers to set up click farms in that part of the world due to lax enforcement. It’s pretty easy to set up a click farm and operate it for quite a while before taking any heat. And once a click farm is discovered by the authorities, the scammers just shut it down and start a new one.
The idea that a scammer would run a click farm operation that goes after both advertisers and the local labor force is perhaps a new twist on what is already a costly crime. But it clearly demonstrates that scammers have no scruples. They will do whatever they need to do to line their own pockets.
Perhaps the most unfortunate aspect to all of this is that the internet makes both click fraud and work-from-home scams much too easy. The internet freely facilitates the open flow of information around the world, which is normally a good thing. But there will always be bad actors willing to use what should be a very good thing to perpetrate their crimes.
At the end of the day, nothing good comes from click farms. Their very design is built on criminal activity. Normally, they exist to enrich scammers by fraudulently running up clicks, displays, and likes. But now, if a scammer can rip off the local labor force as well, so be it.
Let this story be a warning to those people looking for lucrative work-from-home opportunities. There are some legitimate ones out there, but there are also plenty of scams. Buyer beware.