Like thousands of other merchants, Tammy Harrison thought she had struck gold when hordes visited her Web site by clicking on the small Internet ads she purchased from the world's most popular online search engines.
By MICHAEL LIEDTKE Feb 12, 9:40 AM (ET) SAN FRANCISCO (AP) It cost Harrison as much as $20 for each click, but the potential new business seemed to justify the expense. Harrison's delight dimmed, though, when she realized the people clicking on her ads weren't really interested in her products. She was being victimized by "click fraud," a scam that threatens to squelch the online advertising boom that has been enriching Google Inc. (GOOG), Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) and their many business partners. The ruse has different twists, but the end result is usually the same: Merchants are billed for fruitless traffic generated by someone who repeatedly clicks on an advertiser's Web link with no intention of ever buying anything.