Michael Anthony Bradley of Oak Park, Calif. claims to have developed a software program that could cause fraudulent clicks, foiling Google's cost-per-click advertisements on websites, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California announced Friday.
The man had allegedly intended to market the software program to spammers who could then profit immensely from a system that enabled them to defraud one of the most powerful and wealthiest search engine companies in the world.
The software program automated fraudulent "clicks" on "cost-per-click" advertisements utilized by Google. These fraudulent clicks were designed to cause Google to make payments that were supposed to be made only for clicks made by legitimate web surfers, the U.S. attorney's office stated.
Bradley also tried to extort money from Google based on threats that he would turn the program over to spammers.
Bradley's arrest took place in March when he showed up at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. with intent to collect $150,000. He was arrested by Special Agents from the United States Secret Service.
A federal grand jury in San Jose, Calif. returned an indictment this week against Bradley. He has been charged with interfering with commerce and 10 counts of wire fraud. He is free on $50,000 bond on the condition that he stays away from computers and avoids contact with all Google employees.
The maximum penalty for each violation is 20 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Bradley pled not guilty to the charges before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia V. Trumbull.
Bradley will be sentenced on June 28 by U.S. District Court Judge James Ware, the same judge presiding over the Acacia vs. New Destiny Internet Group lawsuit.