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Russian “King of Fraud” sentenced to 10 years in prison for Methbot digital ad scheme


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acastro_170621_1777_0001_fin.0.jpg Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A Russian man convicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges for his role in the Methbot digital advertising scheme was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday.

The Department of Justice said between September 2014 and December 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, 41, and several co-conspirators made deals with ad networks to place online ads but used a bot farm and rented servers to simulate users visiting spoofed versions of websites like the New York Times and the New York Daily News. The ads were never shown to human users, but Zhukov raked in $7 million running the fake traffic scam (which became known as “Methbot,” after the name of his phony ad network Media Methane), according to the DOJ.

“Sitting at his computer keyboard in...

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