This scam is seeing marketing e-mails opened en masse by bots

A hand typing on a laptop with email illustrations covering the keyboard
(Image credit: Shutterstock/Billion Photos)

A sizeable minority (5%) of all marketing emails are opened by bots as scammers flock towards "click fraud bots" to fake email-based conversions if research from Polygraph is to be believed. 

An extremely popular variety of cyber scam, "click fraud" is where the owners of websites use fraudulent methods such as bots or automated scripts to fake legitimate clicks on their advertisements.

As these website owners are paid based on the number of people who click on their ads, this produces revenue for the scammer.

How does the process work?

This process involves fraudsters creating an account on an advertiser’s website. The scammer then receives an e-mail with a link to activate the account, according to Trey Vanes head of marketing at Polygraph.

Bots, which are programmed to monitor the scammer’s inbox for new e-mails, click on any links contained within those e-mails.

Vanes say this tricks the advertisers into believing the sign-ups are real, so they start sending marketing e-mails to the scammers.

These marketing e-mails are then opened by the scammers’ bots since they’re programmed to open any e-mails and click on their links, tricking the advertiser into thinking they getting engagement. 

But it is not just click fraud that is costing UK businesses big money. 

A clear majority - 64% - of UK firms have experienced an incident of economic crime in past in the past two years according to a PWC survey of 107 UK businesses, well in excess of the global average of 46%.

Email services are continuing to play a huge part in this type of fraud which is impacting UK businesses.

Research from security vendor Ivanti found nearly three-quarters (74%) of organizations claimed to have fallen victim to a phishing attack in the last year, which are mainly delivered via email.

Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.