A new type of advertisement fraud run by thousands of applications available across app stores for Apple, Android, and Windows Phones are scamming both app users and advertisers to steal one billion dollar in this year alone, revealed a study released by anti ad-fraud firm Forensiq.

Forensiq called this new type of advertising fraud “mobile device hijacking”. In this type of fraud, a user will download freemium application that is free to use and download with in app advertisements. But in addition to ads that the user sees, the application will also load ads that are invisible to the user even if the user doesn’t open the application at all.

For the smartphone user, it means that these applications are using up bandwidth, likely costing the user money, as well as vital battery life they may need throughout the day. Forensiq estimates that a single app can use up to 2GB of data each day downloading pictures and videos without the user even opening the app.

For advertisers, the impact is more severe. Advertiser are being charged for fraudulent ad views even though in most cases a real person are not actually look at their advertisement. What’s more astonishing is that the fraud is spread across most of the major advertising networks. Forensiq estimates this ad-fraud could cost businesses and users up to a billion dollars this year alone.

According to Forensiq, these fraudulent apps only comes from apps by smaller, lesser-known publishers rather than highly rated, popular ones. So users can protect themselves by limiting themselves to using applications that are well known and has good reviews among users.

MOBILE APP FRAUD STUDY: Forensiq’s investigative look into mobile device hijacking | Forensiq