The worst part?
They're selling as many as 120 videos ads for every single banner ad.
First, the scammers buy a banner ad slot on an ad exchange. Then they turn around and rebroker that space. But instead of selling it once, they fill that one slot with as many as eight video players. And they then sell as many as fifteen different video ads for each of the eight players.
This scam generates at least two million ad calls each day, DoubleVerify says.
The scammers report the videos as autoplaying with audio on, but in reality the players mute the audio. Multiple audio streams occurring simultaneously, of course, would alert consumers that something is wrong.
Fraudsters also configure the video player to remove audio and pause controls, so people cannot stop ads.
How can this happen?
"It is much easier to sell inventory when reseller relationships are not designated and scrutinized," says DoubleVerify. "Also, it is much harder for users to notice and raise an alarm, since the interface in mobile apps does not provide easy ways to debug and troubleshoot such cases."
This is not ideal for consumers, of course, because these videos are not stoppable and in most cases not even visible. Having just one video run on your device slows responsiveness and consumes resources; having 50 or as many as 120 running at any given time will drain batteries and render devices extremely sluggish.
Plus, of course, the data that you are being forced to download.
The real victims here, however, are brands. They're paying for messaging consumers, and clearly with fraud like this, no communication is occuring.
At just a few dollars per completed video view, this scheme alone -- and there are multiple others -- could be costing brands $5 million daily.