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Suspected Clickfraud Yahoo/Overture, 9000 clicks, $4K

click surge, click fraud,



8:06 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am reporting here an incident of over 9000 clicks in 24 hours on 1 keyword (phrase).

This resulted in over $4,000 charged in one day, while $100 was the average.

If you've had this happened to you and resolved it we'd appreciate any correspondence.

We not only lost the $4,000 on this one keyphrase(almost no sales) but Yahoo tapped our account and then other advertisers stopped displaying ads for a day.

Yahoo customer relations person (Gold Dept.) took a "non-responsible" stance for the company, although she was giving case to "loss prevention" for a 10 day investigation. This got us incensed. I left a message for a supposed dedicated rep who I've never talked to.

It looks like some have been through this on this board, if you have any info on successful outcomes please send message or post. I will be adding to this post with my resolution as well. Thanks.

Webmaster, TBE


8:37 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator 10+ Year Member

Thebestever, welcome to WebMasterWorld [webmasterworld.com].

Here are some related links:


1:45 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

The only thing that will stop click fraud is someone like Eliot Spitzer, the Attorney General of the State of New York, investigating and prosecuting PPC companies that are systematically stealing your money.

When you hear Yahoo saying trust us we have a handle on click fraud it's like hearing that our government is sure there are WMDs in Iraq.

The click fraud story is just beginning.


3:50 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Was any of it non-us traffic?


11:39 pm on Mar 9, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Interesting news on click fraud here.



4:16 pm on Mar 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It's possible to marginalize robotic click fraud, which will effectively eliminate it, most engines just aren't doing (or can't do) it.

We use a combination of client side and server side scripting that has been extremely effective in maintaining network quality and ensuring that real people are clicking on results, rather than bots or zombie-pc's or any of the other automated method creatures.

While legislation might put some pressure on the Googles of the world to modify their systems, I would be surprised to see it happen.

I think the engines have in many ways lost the trust of their advertisers, and the necessary opacity of click fraud prevention measures will make it difficult for the engines to regain that trust until the measures work and conversions increase.


4:19 pm on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

This resulted in over $4,000 charged in one day, while $100 was the average.

I, too, sometimes run around $100.00 a day. More than once they've doubled or tripled my daily spend but if suddenly they whacked me for $4000.00 it would break my back.

Where are we legally in going to the credit card company itself and arguing that this was an unauthorized charge? Would the credit card company be able/willing to bounce back the charge?

Sure, Yahoo would then come after one for the 4 grand and shut down the account but at least there's a bit of leverage in the game then.

Would this be a decent strategy for fighting back?


5:34 pm on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Wow, I've been lurking here and following this thread. (Hoping this wouldn't ever happen to me...)

Lo and behold, my YSM account just got blasted the same way. Three or four search terms, which usually get only a few clicks per month, got clicked a few hundred times on Friday (3-10-06)!

I've contact Yahoo and am waiting "up to 10 days" for the results of their investigation...

What the frack, over!

My usual spend of $700/day just went to $3,000..

: (


7:35 pm on Mar 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Actually, I was wrong, the amount overcharged was actually $5,874.70 -- $2000 charged on 3/6 and $3,800 charged on 3/7 ($5800 charged + add'l negative balance on Overture $274.70 - charge normally due of $200)

They offered to refund $400 on Friday, at the time I was estimating the overcharge to be $4000, they were trying to be "conciliatory" and they said they could refund $1,304 so far, but 274.40 went to a negative Yahoo balance and $600 went to a new higher minimum balance they said "the system" now requires because of the higher activity.

Now I am trying to reclaim $5,874.70 and I am getting offered $400 cash, and corporate taxes are due 3/15, so right now this sucks. Am trying to get some expedition.


3:51 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sue them. Someone should.

This is why I don't just give them carte blanche with the credit card....for just this reason. I'm about done with them anyway. I'm going to leave a few keywords active just so they don't close the account and go from a few hundred per day down to about $5

They have cut their own throat and I will be surprised if they are still here in two years if they do nothing to fix their rediculous system.


4:16 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

I feel your pain, and somehow I think you will be stuck with most of those charges.

I would never write a blank check to anyone, that's why I would put a daily cap.


6:48 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Hmmm, this does not look good.

Well, if we get the same sort of irresponsible result, we will contact all our competitors currently advertising on the YSM network and ask them if they had the same problem we did last week.

Those that did will be invited to participate in a class action lawsuit. (Our legal team might want to consult with the firm that just picked up the $90 million from Google...)

Our guess is that whoever is conducting this Fraud probably attacked our industry as a whole (among others).

The fraudulent activity on our YSM account last week was so incredibly obvious, it would really surprise me if they simply don't make it right.

BTW, they commented on the phone "boy, this sure doesn't look right..." It took them about 5 seconds after giving them the account number to identify the keywords and the associated charges I was about to ask/complain about. They didn't even ask for my access logs.

I believe they were getting calls all morning.

I ended the conversation saying that fraud or not, we simply can't keep our account with YSM open with this kind of unpredictable, no conversion traffic... and thank GOD MSN is launching an alternative.

You should have heard the back-peddling!

In any case, let's see what happens middle of next week.


7:07 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Yes, thanks for helpful replies.

I was concerned that the account is now on, I didn't turn it on! I really don't believe I did.

There are about 900 less online listings than before, (still 4100 up), and they charged another $200 to my credit card!

Still no refund/credit promised Friday.

Over six thousand dollars I am waiting to see what to do with.

It is easy to sue, and that is on the table.

So far I am getting dialogued with, I have been converting with them, although less profitability lately. I do need to talk with someone that can speed up the timeline, that can be responsible for the case, and my money (!)


7:14 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Oh, and I will say I had a similar problem on Searchfeed almost the exact same days, but Searchfeed was a slow growing problem about a week sooner.

There is a lot of correlation. 9 weeks or so and then BOOM.

Points to either a competitor or an ad partner on both platforms.

It would be funny if it was Google.

If it wasn't this huge pain I'd laugh even more at that joke. Unless it's not a joke?


7:31 am on Mar 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had a similar problem and lost about $700 within minutes. I turned on content match and, suprisingly, all my bids were somehow set to the #1 position. I KNOW that I did not do this.

My advice is to hound them daily. I didn't get this resolved to my satisfaction until the 6th or 7th call. They credited me the FULL amount after originally only giving me 40% which they stated was "policy". Ask them for a "one time" full refund and remind them how much you spend with them. I'm telling you that Yahoo will drag its feet on this. KEEP AT IT.

My advice to most Yahoo advertisers is to avoid content match like the plague. It is full of click fraudsters that only spend seconds on your page and leave.


6:45 pm on Mar 25, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I had a bad experience with Sponsored Search. A keyword that normally brought it a few people a day for about $5 a day suddenly exploded to $90 dollars in a few hours. This all occured on Content Match btw.

I contacted yahoo, sent them logs and explained that the traffic had to be fraudulent. All of the visitors didn't convert and only had one page view.

After a 10 day investigation, I got a hefty refund. They never actually admitted to click fraud but gave me a $500+ credit on my account.

In the end, I really believe that Yahoo will give you all of your money back, maybe even more.


7:28 pm on Mar 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Your stories are very interesting.

I did get a refund for very close to what I expected. An initial refund of 25% or $1300 and $4400 10 days later.

I am pleased.

I don't know if being a gold account or complaining ruefully on the phone or posting online made a difference, I just know that I had Google deny any problem once and refund back $25 instead of alot more I thought I was due, maybe $1000, so I definitely had my defenses up on this one.

I am glad Yahoo came through.

N. Rodriguez
Certified Google Adwords Professional
Gold Overture Advertiser


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