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Google Goes After Fraudulent Ads, Files Suit

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Google said Tuesday it has filed a lawsuit against Pacific WebWorks and several other unnamed defendants the company claims offer fraudulent money schemes using the Google name.

“This action seeks to stop a widespread Internet advertising scam that is defrauding the public by misusing the famous Google brand. 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,” reads the legal document.

“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,” co-wrote Googlers Jason Morrison, a support engineer and Stacey Wexler, senior litigation counsel.

Ads that have irked the company include “Use Google to Make 1000s of Dollars!” and “Easy Cash with Google: You Could be Making up to $978 a Day Working from Home!” The company warns that Internet users should beware of names such as “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.”

“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,” read a Google blog post.

The Federal Trade Commission prohibits unfair or deceptive advertising in any medium. “Third parties – such as advertising agencies or website designers and catalog marketers – also may be liable for making or disseminating deceptive representations if they participate in the preparation or distribution of the advertising, or know about the deceptive claims,” according to the FTC.

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