Russia online security firm accused of fraud

By bne IntelliNews February 8, 2016

Academ Media, a Siberian-based mobile phone app developer, has been accused of defrauding millions of dollars via MoPub, the online marketplace owned by Twitter.

Online security company Sentrant said the alleged fraud by Academ was among the most sophisticated yet in the fast-growing market for mobile advertising, according to a report in the Financial Times. Academ Media has strongly denied the allegations while Twitter and MoPub declined to comment, the FT said.  

Sentrant said it has identified more than 200 apps in the Google Play store that, after being downloaded on a mobile device, loaded "invisible" ads in the background. Its research team estimated that these rogue apps generated at least $250,000 in advertising revenues each day — from companies paying for views — even though the ad placements could not actually be seen by people.

"This is as bad as any financial crime going on worldwide," Allen Dillon, chief executive of Sentrant, told the FT. "It's going to cost the consumer at the end of the day, because someone has to pay for the losses."

Apps containing "fraud code" linked to Academ Media included Frozen Flame, a free game for children that has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Academ Media, which has 1,000 employees, said that the allegations were unfounded. It claimed that, a year ago, its systems were hacked by an unknown attacker, who stole data and modified the company's apps to commit advertising fraud.

However, Sentrant has claimed that more than 20 shell companies linked to Academ Media launched new apps last year containing a "stealthier" version of code that had previously been found in Academ's apps.

The US Association of National Advertisers, whose members include McDonald's and Unilever, in January forecast that online ad fraud would cost brands $7.2bn this year.

Related Articles

Russia invites Trump aides to Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan

Russia has invited incoming U.S. President Donald Trump to send aides to the planned Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana, Bloomberg reported on January ... more

Russia's Detsky Mir children's retailer announces IPO

Russian retailer of children’s goods Detsky Mir announced plans to offer 30% of its shares in an IPO, TASS reported on January 16. The retailer’s main shareholder, AFK Sistema multi-industry ... more

bnePodcast - WoE: How far will the Russian equity rally run, with Jacob Grapengiesser, partner at East Capital and Russian Fund manager

This edition of bne's Window on the East podcast features Jacob Grapengiesser, a founding partner ... more

Register here to continue reading this article and 2 more for free or purchase 12 months full website access including the bne Magazine for just $119/year.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

To continue viewing our content you need to complete the registration process.

Please look for an email that was sent to with the subject line "Confirmation bne IntelliNews access". This email will have instructions on how to complete registration process. Please check in your "Junk" folder in case this communication was misdirected in your email system.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and magazine

Subscribe to bne IntelliNews website and monthly magazine, the leading source of business, economic and financial news and commentary in emerging markets.

Your subscription includes:
  • Full access to the bne content daily news and features on the website
  • Newsletters direct to your mailbox
  • Print and digital subscription to the monthly bne magazine
  • Digital subscription to the weekly bne newspaper

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

bne IntelliNews
$119 per year

All prices are in US dollars net of applicable taxes.

If you have any questions please contact us at sales@intellinews.com

Register for free to read bne IntelliNews Magazine. You'll receive a free digital subscription.

Already a subscriber or registered - click here to recover access.

If you a IntelliNews Pro user - click here to login.

Thank you. Please complete your registration by confirming your email address.
A confirmation email has been sent to the email address you provided.

IntelliNews Pro offers daily news updates delivered to your inbox and in-depth data reports.
Get the emerging markets newswire that financial professionals trust.

"No day starts for my team without IntelliNews Pro" — UBS

Thank-you for requesting an IntelliNews Pro trial. Our team will be in contact with you shortly.

Dismiss