Microsoft has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against three individuals for alleged click fraud. The trio accused of click fraud are Eric Lam, Gordon Lam, and Melanie Suen all of Vancouver, British Columbia. The Lams are believed to be brothers according to Microsoft and Suen is believed to be their mother.
The allegations brought against the accused by Microsoft are that the trio perpetrated click fraud attacks against online advertisements relating to auto insurance and World of Warcraft. Microsoft general counsel Tim Cranton wrote in a blog post, "Earlier today, after a thorough investigation, Microsoft filed a civil lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Western Washington outlining a massive click fraud scheme believed to have impacted Microsoft’s advertising platform and potentially other networks. The case is Microsoft v. Lam, et. al., case number 09-cv-0815."
According to Cranton, click fraud is when a person, script, or program imitates a user and clicks on an ad without having real interest in the ad thereby generating a fraudulent charge per click. Typically, Cranton and his team work to combat what they call classic cybercrime issues like child protection, security, malicious code, and online fraud.
The team is expanding its purview to cover other crimes that are less traditional but are increasingly important to cybercrime enforcement. Click fraud is an area that Cranton and his team say poses a threat to the online advertising industry as a whole.
Microsoft has reportedly had to pay about $1.5 million in refunds to advertisers over click fraud. It's not clear if that amount is specifically from the case against the trio in this instance.
Microsoft will be releasing a free version of an anti-virus app to help keep Windows users safe online soon.