A 41-year-old Russian hacker, Aleksandr Zhukov, ran a massive online advertising fraud ring between September 2014 and December 2016. He had set up a fake company, called Media Methane, which sold advertising space on popular websites—such as those of the New York Times or the New York Daily News—to advertisers.
Zhukov and his teams used a bot farm and rented servers to simulate users visiting fake versions of the sites in question. No human ever saw a single ad, but the fake traffic scam made $7 million for Zhukov’s criminal network, who called himself “the king of fraud.”
In May 2021, the U.S. justice system found Aleksandr Zhukov guilty of wire fraud and money laundering, without deciding his sentence. In this month of November 2021, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and $3.8 million in fines.