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What is 'click fraud'?

For most people, technology opens up new possibilities for communication, entertainment and commerce. But, with seemingly every technological advance comes the possibility for a new type of crime to emerge. For example, our New Jersey readers may have heard of "click fraud," but they might not know the first thing about this fairly new crime.

So, what is click fraud? Well, first of all, a little background: anyone who uses the Internet these days is familiar with the ever-present advertisements that populate websites that experience heavy traffic. These ads are becoming so commonplace that many people may have experienced a difference in their ability to browse information on the Internet -- websites might not be fully functional and available until the requisite ads populate. It is these ads that are at the center of the computer crime of click fraud.

Many of our readers may not have known that many of the ads that grace our favorite websites are set up with something called a "pay per click" rate. This means that the company who is behind the ad only pays the website a set advertising rate when their ad is clicked on. The potential for problems is obvious.

In the super-competitive world of retail and business sales, an individual may find themselves charged with click fraud if they engage in the constant clicking of their competitor's ads -- with no intention of following up with any type of business or sales transaction. Basically, the illegal part of click fraud is the intention to drive up a company's advertising costs. Many businesses are catching on to the fact that the rate that their ads are being clicked may be unrealistic, and state governments are beginning to recognize that this type of conduct should be classified as criminal behavior.

Source: econsultancy.com, "What is click fraud and how can you prevent it?" Christopher Ratcliff, accessed on Nov. 28, 2014

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