Incentivised Fraud

What is Incentivised Fraud?

Certain scammers have been incentivising installs by sharing their commissions with end users via benefits like rebates, or gaming credits. When this incentivised traffic is unlabelled or mislabeled as non-incentivised traffic, it fraudulently collects a higher CPI payout than it’s actually worth as Such downloads often offer less long-term value to an advertiser because customers typically come seeking some sort of incentive.

 

How does Incentivised Fraud work?

Suppose you are a marketer and your organisation recently launched a new mobile app featuring all of its flagship services. Now let's look at how the incentivised fraud works while promoting the new app.

  1. Malicious publisher has registered for advertiser’s CPI campaign.

  2. User navigates to malicious publisher’s site.

  3. User is incentivised by malicious publisher site to download advertiser’s app, based on the promise of some cash back or ten extra lives in the app’s game.

  4. User installs advertiser’s app.

  5. Advertiser attributes credit to and pays malicious publisher as if the install was not incentivised, meaning malicious publisher received payment for more value than it actually delivered.

One such type of Incentivised fraud growing in today's digital landscape is Multi-Level Marketing.

How Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) is growing in today's digital landscape?

Fraudsters are extremely skilled at tricking marketing efforts and can effectively skew the results, even for Cost per Click (CPC), or Cost per Install (CPI) campaigns planned for mobile apps. The goal is to get increased number of installs. However, getting the intended installs does not necessarily indicate a successful outcome. 

 

Fraudsters understand the campaign models and could easily trick marketers by crediting them with fake installs. They rely on a number of fraudulent techniques, among which the digital MLM channel is one of the key ones.

How does Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) work?

  1. Imagine paying INR 2 crore to an ad network and asking for 10 lakh downloads. 

  2. The publisher will happily agree to this deal and would then transit to chatrooms and online groups.

  3. Fraudsters (in this case, the publishers) are part of several online chatrooms and chat groups, etc., where they are running their version of campaigns and engaging in digital MLM. 

  4. They operate schemes like refer and earn INR 100 or get cash back worth INR 50 for the first 5 transactions.

  5. The members of the groups are people looking to make quick money and are thus interested in installing apps following the instructions of the publishers.

  6. These group members are also part of several other groups, chatrooms, and forums, and they also look forward to making additional commissions by sharing the same schemes in those groups.

  7. In the chart below, the users in white are simply installing the application to earn their cash back. 

  8. The users in blue, apart from installing, are also forwarding the scheme to other groups, earning their commission, thus becoming a part of a larger community who are engaged in fuelling the fraud to a larger extent.

  9. Within a week, your app will boast of good download numbers. But in reality, their in-app engagement will be less than what was initially expected. 

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