In the ever-evolving landscape of mobile fraud, one particularly insidious technique stands out: device ID reset fraud. This form of fraud undermines the integrity of mobile advertising and app monetization strategies, causing significant financial losses and eroding user trust. Understanding how device ID reset fraud works, its implications, and how to combat it is crucial for developers, advertisers, and platform operators alike.

Understanding Device ID Reset Fraud

Device ID reset fraud occurs when a fraudster intentionally resets the unique identifier of a mobile device, such as the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number or the MAC (Media Access Control) address. This reset makes the device appear as new to networks and services, thereby circumventing systems designed to track or block devices based on their IDs. 

The motivation behind this fraud is to exploit digital ecosystems for illegitimate gain. By presenting a device as new, fraudsters can bypass restrictions or limits placed on devices, such as download quotas or account creation limits. They can engage in a range of fraudulent activities, including creating fake accounts, executing unauthorized purchases, or inflating ad impressions and clicks.

How Device ID Reset Fraud Operates

1. Rooting or Jailbreaking. The first step involves gaining root access to the device’s operating system through rooting (for Android devices) or jailbreaking (for iOS devices). This process removes restrictions imposed by the OS, allowing the fraudster to modify system files and settings.

2. Changing Unique Identifiers. Once root access is obtained, the fraudster uses specialized software or apps to change the device’s unique identifiers. This could involve altering the IMEI number, which is a global standard used to identify mobile devices, or the MAC address, which is unique to the device's network interface.

3. Fraudulent Activities. With the device ID reset, the device can now bypass systems that track or block devices based on these identifiers. Fraudsters can then:

  •    Create multiple fake accounts for app downloads or social media platforms.
  •    Execute unauthorized app downloads or in-app purchases.
  •    Generate fraudulent ad impressions or clicks to earn ad revenue.

Examples of Device ID Reset Fraud

Ad Fraud Scheme

A fraudster resets the device IDs of a fleet of devices to generate fake ad clicks. Each device, appearing as unique, clicks on ads, artificially inflating click-through rates and defrauding advertisers.

Unauthorized Purchases

By resetting the device ID, a fraudster makes repeated in-app purchases without detection. Each transaction appears to come from a new device, making it difficult for fraud detection systems to spot the pattern.

Fake Account Creation

Social media platforms often limit the number of accounts that can be created from a single device. By resetting the device ID, fraudsters circumvent these limits, creating numerous accounts for spamming or scamming purposes.

Combating Device ID Reset Fraud

Combatting device ID reset fraud requires a multi-faceted approach, leveraging both technology and policy. Solutions include:

Advanced Fraud Detection

Employing machine learning and behavioral analytics to detect patterns indicative of fraud, such as abnormal rates of account creation, purchases, or ad interactions from devices with frequently changed IDs.

Limiting Root Access

Encouraging users to avoid rooting or jailbreaking their devices and implementing measures to detect and restrict access to apps or services from such devices.

Collaboration and Sharing

Platforms and advertisers can collaborate and share intelligence on known fraud indicators, including devices with suspiciously reset IDs.

User Education

Educating users on the risks associated with device modification and the importance of securing their devices against unauthorized access.


Device ID reset fraud poses a significant challenge to the mobile ecosystem, affecting advertisers, developers, and users alike. By understanding the mechanisms of this fraud and implementing robust detection and prevention strategies, stakeholders can protect their interests and maintain the trustworthiness and security of the mobile environment. Collaboration, advanced technology, and user education are key to mitigating the impact of this and other sophisticated mobile fraud tactics.