Man indicted in Google fraud scheme

California man accused of creating fraudulent "clicks" on "cost-per-click" advertisements on Web sites.

A California man was arraigned on Thursday on federal extortion and wire fraud charges arising from a software program he claimed could allow spammers to defraud Web search company Google Inc. of millions of dollars, federal prosecutors said.

A federal grand jury in San Jose, Calif., returned an indictment on Wednesday against Michael Anthony Bradley of Oak Park, Calif., charging him with one count of interfering with commerce by threats and 10 counts of wire fraud over a scheme for a software program he claimed to have developed.

The program reputedly created fraudulent "clicks" on Google's "cost-per-click" advertisements on Web sites, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California.

Google pays Web site operators for clicks by legitimate Web surfers to drive traffic to its Web search service.

Additionally, Bradley claimed he would sell the software to spammers if Google did not pay him about $150,000, the U.S. Attorney's office said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors said they arrested Bradley in March at the Mountain View, Calif., offices of Google, which they said fully cooperated with the investigation.

Bradley pleaded not guilty to the charges and is free on a $50,000 bond. Bradley's attorney, a federal public defender, could not be immediately reached for comment.

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