MINNEAPOLIS: In a study on internet advertising malpractice, US fraud-detection specialist Fair Isaac Corporation warns that 'click fraud' - automated programs that repeatedly click on web advertising links - are on the increase.

The links, which appear alongside search results and on tens of thousands of website, are equally vulnerable to multi-clicking by individuals who have no intention of making a purchase or seeking product information.

The miscreants generally fall into one of two categories: site owners eager to boost their pay-per-click traffic, or commercial rivals attempting to inflate competitors' advertising costs.

According to Joseph Milana, chief scientist of research and development at Fair Isaac, the pay-per-click system is a formula ripe for rip-off.

He estimates that between 10%-15% of advertising click-through traffic is "pathological", indicating a likelihood of click fraud.

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Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online. additional content by WARC staff