Jef Poskanzer has been an AdSense publisher since June 2003 but last month, an automated email from the AdSense team landed in his inbox:

After reviewing our records, we’ve determined that your AdSense account poses a risk of generating invalid activity. Because we have a responsibility to protect our AdWords advertisers from inflated costs due to invalid activity, we’ve found it necessary to disable your AdSense account. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers.

Google’s click fraud detection algorithm may have detected invalid clicks and thus disabled the AdSense account. Jef raised an appeal but the AdSense team wrote a final response saying they were unable to reinstate his AdSense account.

Jef shared his ordeal online (Jan 30, 9:32 PM), Matt Cutts re-shared the story on his Google+ page (Jan 31, 2:36 PM) and the next status update from Jef said that his account has been reinstated (Feb 1, 8:08 AM).

AdSense reinstated my account earlier today, and the ads are now appearing again. Yay! I’m still having a conversation with them about what happened and what we should do to keep it from happening again.

Jef was exchanging emails with the AdSense support team for the past 15 days and none of that worked in his favor. Matt Cutts (Google’s best known public face) entered the scene, the click-fraud team probably did another review and Jef’s AdSense account was quickly reinstated in less than 24 hours.

This is good news for Jef but it does expose a very serious flaw in Google’s click-fraud detection algorithms. An account that was deemed a ‘threat’ to advertisers just few days ago is considered safe again. What changed Google’s mind in such a short duration of time?

There could be hundreds of other honest and legitimate web publishers who have been wrongly banned from the AdSense program without explanation and all they get from Google are these automated replies.