Sign up for weekly recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.
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.