Microsoft sues “fake clicker”

Microsoft has sued Eric Ralls, president and founder of Dallas science-news site RedOrbit claiming that he was making a few quid by running a fake click advertising scam.

Redmond said that it has started chasing operators that allegedly generate fake clicks on Web advertising to make money from advertisers that pay per click.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel said that the Web operators and the search engine can profit from click fraud, but Microsoft does not want to look the other way.

However, Ralls said that his outfit has never engaged, assisted in, or condoned click fraud.

Ralls started RedOrbit in 2002 and it gets three million visitors a month.  He said that the complaints were “completely baseless” and he intend to “defend them vigorously.”

Microsoft flogs its ads through an outfit called AdCenter. The lawsuit claims that RedOrbit participated in its AdCenter beta and disguised clicks going to other sites as clicks on ads sold through AdCenter and which appear on RedOrbit’s site. Redmond said that this practice is called “click laundering.”

The number of clicks at RedOrbit went from 75 per day to 10,000 per day between January and February 2009. Ralls has not said why this happened.

Smith said Microsoft wanted advertisers to know when they advertise on its network, it stands behind them.
“When a criminals looks at advertising networks, they will look at which companies have the will and the means” to take them down. We are demonstrating that we have the will and the means.”