A California man has been charged with extortion, after allegedly making
demands for US$100,000 from search giant Google.
According to court papers, he claimed that if Google did not pay, he would
release a piece of software to spammers that would generate fake advertising
hits, costing the search giant millions.
The man, Michael Bradley, was so sure that the folks at Google would pay up,
he even turned up at their offices for a meeting to sell his software. By then,
federal law enforcement agents were already on the case and videotaped the
alleged extortion attempt.
The software Bradley designed would have flooded the Google advertisements
with fake clicks, potentially costing the company millions of dollars. Google
pays Web publishers a fee for each click on the pop-ups the site generates. He
threatened to give the software to the top 100 spammers in the meeting with
Google's officials, court papers released on Friday show.
According to the papers, he also offered his services as a consultant
engineer to help the search engine stop other advertising fraud.
After he didn't hear back from the search engine staff about a payment, he
allegedly sent an e-mail saying he would release the software to the public--and
the spammers--the following week. He was then met by someone whom he likely
expected to be a Google executive clutching a big bag of money but who turned
out to be a federal agent with an arrest warrant.
Bradley was released on US$50,000 bail, on the condition that he has no contact
with his computer or Google.
Jo Best of Silicon.com
reported from London.