A computer programmer from Oak Park, California has been charged with federal extortion and wire fraud by a federal grand jury after he threatened to release a fraudulent click generating program to spammers if Google did not pay him a ransom of over $100,000.

32 year old Michael Anthony Bradley developed a program designed to allow spammers to generate automated click-thrus on Google's AdWords and AdSense programs. If used by AdSense partner sites, the software could have cost Google unlimited amounts of money in fraudulent payouts to content sites as well as refunds to advertisers who had received the fraudulent traffic.

Bradley was arrested in March at Google's Mountain View, California offices after Google employees notified the U.S. Secret Service of Bradley's attempts to extort money from the company. Bradley had previously sent emails to the company's corporate office requesting a meeting with top executives. In the meeting, Bradley then demonstrated the software and threatened to sell it to top spammers if Google didn't buy it from him for a sum of around $100,000.

If indicted, Bradley's faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $25,000 for each count. The court has ordered Bradley not to use any computer or the Internet until the case is settled.
July 7, 2004

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.

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