By Bill Hartzer, February 17, 2020 at 11:33am CST
A disturbing new extortion is being sent via email to website publishers who participate in the Google AdSense program. The publisher receives an email, telling them that if they do not pay a certain fee then they will force Google to disable their Google AdSense account.
If the publisher does not pay the fee, they will have automated bots click on the site’s ads, which will supposedly cause Google to see those automated clicks. It’s against Google’s policy to use automated bots to click on ads: so the account will then be most likely shut down as a result.
According to Krebsonsecurity.com, people have reportedly been getting emails similar to this:
Image courtesy of Krebs on Security.
Important: Regarding your AdSense account! From: AdSense Syndicate
(IP: ) Subject: Important: Regarding your AdSense account! Message Body: The number of ads you can show has been limited...Ad serving on your account is currently being limited due to invalid traffic concerns. We'll automatically review and update this limit as we continue to monitor your traffic..." Very soon the warning notice from above will appear at the dashboard of your AdSense account, undoubtedly! This will happens due to fact that we're about to flood your site with huge amount of direct bot generated web traffic with 100% bounce ratio and thousands of IP's in rotation - a nightmare for every AdSense publisher. More also we'll adjust our sophisticated bots to open, in endless cycle with different time duration, every AdSense banner which runs on your site. As a result your daily RPC revenue will be increased, but AdSense traffic assessment algorithms will detect very fast such a web traffic pattern as fraudulent. Next an ad serving limit will be placed on your publisher account and all the revenue will be refunded to advertisers. Shortly said this means that the main source of profit for your site will be temporarily suspended. It will take some time, usually a month, for the AdSense to lift your ad ban, but if this happens we have all the resources needed to flood your site again with bad quality web traffic which will lead to second AdSense ban that coukd be permanent! We're pretty well familiar with Google AdSense web traffic evaluation algorithms and possess the knowledge to ban every publisher account! In order to avoid such a real scenario to happens you must to pay 5.000$ (5k$) in bitcoins to the btc address as follows: 131ba3PN88rBJZNW51N1Hwd2DxfpUBcmhK Payment must be send in a time frame of 72 hours. Otherwise the above mentioned will take place! Sincerely
The extortionist is looking to receive $5,000 US dollars in Bitcoin or they claim that they will have automated bots visit the website and click on ads, which will cause Google to disapprove the Google AdSense account. While I have not had any sites disapproved, I have had some URLs that Google told me they stopped showing ads on. For a while, I offered free website hosting (similar to the old Geocities type websites) and I ran Google Adsense ads on the pages that people created. Some created pages that weren’t “clean”, so Google ended up disapproving the ads on those pages. I was then able to go in and remove the websites in question.
If you get an email like this, I would save the email and document it by making a screen capture of it. I am not aware of Google AdSense making any public statement about this extortion scheme yet–but if you were to have an issue later on you can show Google that you did receive an extortion email. I don’t recommend paying this fee.
If you do receive an email like this, and you do see invalid clicks on your website (watch your Google AdSense activity and clicks), there is a form to fill out where you can notify Google of invalid clicks.