Google Sues To Stop Online Scams Using Its Name

Google is fighting back against the get-rich-quick and work-from-home scams that use its name. The company says it’s suing to stop what it calls “a widespread Internet advertising scam” that often goes under names like “Google Cash,” “Google Money Kit,” “Google Profits,” and more.

Google has made available the text of its lawsuit (PDF) against a Utah-based company called Pacific WebWorks and dozens of other companies that it only refers to as “Does 1-50″ (as in “John Doe”). It’s a civil suit that accuses the defendants of a number of offenses, including “trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition, and cyber-piracy.” Google’s suit describes the defendants actions in this way:

The scam victimizes unsuspecting consumers by prominently displaying the famous GOOGLE mark, by suggesting sponsorship by the plaintiff, Google Inc. (“Google”), and by urging consumers to obtain a kit supposedly showing them how to make money working from home with Google. The kit is advertised as free, except for a nominal shipping and handling charge or access fee. However, people who sign up for these offers have their credit cards charged with substantial recurring monthly fees. They also receive little of value, or nothing at all, in return for their payments.

Google’s suit says that consumers who sign up for the defendants’ services “are not enrolled in any program that provides opportunities for generating income” and “are subjected to continuing monthly fees that often exceed $50 and range as high as $79.90.” In return, Google says buyers often get DVDs that contain viruses, or they receive “access to an online portal containing information available free of charge elsewhere on the Internet, including from Google’s own free online help center.”

In addition to the lawsuit, Google says it’s still removing “scammy URLs” from its index and closing AdWords accounts that “provide a poor or harmful user experience.”

Google’s not the only one fighting this battle. Earlier this year, the FTC announced a series of complaints against similar online scams, including some using Google’s name. And even a group of search marketers got involved in September with the launch of a “White Knight SEO” campaign aimed at influencing the natural search results for terms related to the work-at-home scams.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Legal: Trademarks


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • IrishWonder

    I wonder if Google is also going to take care of phishing sites using its name? Like this:

  • Jonahstein

    Sue them, sure, but they still accept adwords advertising with “google cash reviews”, “google money system”, etc.

    Can you say WTF

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