“Use Google to Make 1000s of Dollars!” or “Easy Cash with Google: You Could be Making up to $978 a Day Working from Home!” You may have seen offers like these using Google’s name or logo that sounded too good to be true. Unfortunately, nearly all of them are, and, despite hundreds of consumer complaints and our own efforts to keep these sites from tricking people, some scams continue. To fight back, we’re working to stop various fraudulent “Google Money” schemes, and this week filed suit against Pacific WebWorks and several other unnamed defendants.
Google hasn’t created or endorsed any of the sites like those described in our complaint. Misleading ads try to take advantage of consumers in the midst of a difficult economy, and as the economic situation has worsened, the problem has only grown. As far as we can tell,thousands of people have been tricked into sending payment information and being charged hidden fees by questionable operations.
Even as we’re taking legal action to try to cut these sites off at the source, we’re still working constantly to remove scammy URLs from our index, and we’ll permanently disable AdWords accounts that provide a poor or harmful user experience, whether or not they use Google’s trademarks illegally. That said, we can’t guarantee that schemes like these won’t pop up, like the proverbial “Whack-A-Mole”, someplace else online either on a different network or under a different name.
We can solve only part of the problem the rest is up to you. Just as you should be careful about giving out financial information in the real world, you should be skeptical and review any offers online before sending any information, and always be on guard when presented with an offer that seems too good to be true. Below is a significantly abridged list of some names that we know are suspect. For more tips on how to spot a scam online or what to do if you think you or someone you know has been tricked, check out this earlier post.
Although there’s no secret kit that can guarantee riches, many people really do make money online. In our experience, the best way to build a business on the web is to really serve users offer useful products and services or write about something you have a passionate interest in. If you are wondering if a particular program is legit, Google’s business and advertising programs can be found from our home page, and the best place to find real jobs at Google is google.com/jobs.
Names to be wary of: Google Adwork, Google ATM, Google Biz Kit, Google Cash, Earn Google Cash Kit, Google Fortune, Google Marketing Kit, Google Profits, The Home Business Kit for Google, Google StartUp Kit, and Google Works.
Update June 1, 2010: A court has granted us a permanent injunction barring PWW from using the Google name or logo, and we’ve named Bloosky.com as a new defendant. While we’re very pleased with this outcome, we’ll continue to investigate the issue and work to keep scammers from taking advantage of consumers by using our name or logo illegally.
Posted by Jason Morrison, Support Engineer (Search Quality Team), and Stacey Wexler, Senior Litigation Counsel.