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Indian-origin researchers propose new method for preventing pay-per-click fraud

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New York: Indian-origin researchers have proposed a new method for detecting fraud from the pay-per-click model – a pricing model used for online advertising.

“If somebody likes something, they can click on the ad and go directly to the site. Hopefully, that translates to a sale. No matter whether it does or not, the advertiser pays for these clicks. In the pay-per-click model, if people or bots are clicking fraudulently, then the advertiser is losing money,” said Suresh Radhakrishnan, professor at the University of Texas in the US.

The researchers have proposed a way to support technological improvements to check fraud which, they said, is affecting the advertising industry as a whole.

The study considers identifying click fraud as a three-stage process: the service provider — for example, Google or Yahoo — classifies clicks as fraudulent or not.

Then, the advertiser does the same, using his technology. If there is a disagreement, the service provider examines further and its conclusion is considered binding.

The problem with the new approach is intuitive. For a service provider, if he gets paid, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a valid click or a fraudulent.

But the advertiser would want to verify whether the click is fraudulent or not. Even if the click is valid, the advertiser may say that it’s fraudulent because of the pay-per-click cost, the researchers explained.

To solve the problem, the researchers suggested that an independent third party investigate and flag fraudulent clicks when a conflict arises between the advertiser and the service provider.

“In the long term, for the pay-per-click model to survive, you will need to make sure both parties are happy, so technologies will have to get to a point where click fraud is minimized,” Varghese Jacob, vice dean of the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

“People will have to invest in such improvements. Otherwise the pay-per-click model may not be sustainable,” Jacob noted.

The findings appeared in the journal Information Systems Research. (IANS) (Photo: http://www.lifehack.org)

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Theranos CEO Indicted On Criminal Fraud Charges

Technology a fraud

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Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Nov. 2, 2015. Federal prosecutors said Friday they have indicted Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and patients.
Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO of Theranos, speaks at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Nov. 2, 2015. Federal prosecutors said Friday they have indicted Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and patients. VOA

Federal prosecutors have indicted Elizabeth Holmes on criminal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding investors, doctors and the public as the head of the once-heralded blood-testing startup Theranos. Federal prosecutors also brought charges against the company’s former second-in-command.

Holmes, who was once considered a wunderkind of Silicon Valley, and her former Chief Operating Officer Ramesh Balwani, are charged with two counts conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California said late Friday. If convicted, they could face prison sentences that would keep them behind bars for the rest of their lives, and total fines of $2.75 million each.

Technology a fraud

Prosecutors allege that Holmes and Balwani deliberately misled investors, policymakers and the public about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood-testing technologies. Holmes, 34, founded Theranos in Palo Alto, California, in 2003, pitching its technology as a cheaper way to run dozens of blood tests. Once considered the nation’s youngest female billionaire, Holmes said she was inspired to start the company in response to her fear of needles.

But an investigation by The Wall Street Journal two years ago found that Theranos’ technology was a fraud, and that the company was using routine blood-testing equipment for the vast majority of its tests. The story raised concerns about the accuracy of Theranos’ blood testing technology, which put patients at risk of having conditions either misdiagnosed or ignored.

“CEO Elizabeth Holmes and COO Sunny Balwani not only defrauded investors, but also consumers who trusted and relied upon their allegedly-revolutionary blood-testing technology,” Acting U.S. Attorney Alex Tse said in a statement.

Elizabeth Holmes
Elizabeth Holmes, flickr

SEC charges

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against Holmes and Balwani three months ago. Holmes settled with the SEC, agreeing to pay $500,000 in fines and penalties. Balwani, 53, is fighting the charges.

As the charges were announced Friday, Theranos said Holmes would step down as CEO of the company and its general counsel, David Taylor, would become the company’s next CEO. Theranos laid off most of its staff earlier this year and is widely expected to file for bankruptcy. Holmes remains the company’s chairman.

Also read:Two Indian-Americans among Forbes America 50 successful women

The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Friday’s indictments. (VOA)