Alexander Zhukov, the mastermind behind the $7 million ad fraud two months ago, was extradited to the US on January 18. Earlier, Zhukov was arrested in Bulgaria after his fraud operation, known as ‘3ve’, was crippled by Google and WhiteOps, not to mention the international arrest warrant issued by the US.
Russian Embassy in Washington confirmed Zhukov’s extradition from Bulgaria. As of now, he is being held in a jail in New York.
The US Department of Justice also arraigned eight other persons hailing from Russia, Ukraine, and Kazhakstan related to the fraud, which extensively developed fake websites for ads and used it to redirect traffic.
This fraud was one of the largest online fraud operations ever committed. As far as 1.7 million computers were infected with malware in the fraud.
Operating since 2014
3ve, also known as ‘Methbot’, was said to be functioning since 2014. It is also estimated that more than $30 million were earned by the operators.
Zhukov, and the others, rented thousands of computer servers to load ads from advertisers on counterfeit websites. As a result, 3ve generated billions of ad views with some of them not even viewed by human-users.
“All told, 3ve controlled over 1 million IPs from both residential botnet infections and corporate IP spaces (as noted above, there were up to 700,000 active infections at any given time). In aggregate, the operation also produced more than 10,000 counterfeit domains and generated over 3 billion daily bid requests at its peak. We estimate that portions of the bot operation spanned over 1,000 servers in data centers allocated to various functions needed for this type of large-scale operation” said, a white paper authored by Google and WhiteOps.