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Google Government The Courts

FTC, Google Go After Scammers 64

coondoggie notes that the Federal Trade Commission said it was going after three outfits that allegedly made robocalls to sell worthless credit-card interest-rate reduction programs for large up-front fees (as much as $1,495). And reader Cwix tips us that today Google filed a lawsuit against Pacific WebWorks and other unnamed defendants for allegedly using the company's name and logo to promote fraudulent work-at-home money-making schemes. "Kate Lister, author of Undress for Success — The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home, estimates that more than 95% of Google hits on the words 'work at home' are scams, link to scams, or other dead ends."
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FTC, Google Go After Scammers

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  • Re:No, really?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AvitarX ( 172628 ) <me AT brandywinehundred DOT org> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @09:31AM (#30376290) Journal

    What I find funny, is that the block quote could have come strait off of one of the scam sites. The book itself (from context of the quote) could very well be a scam.

    The sites generally have quotes by the author of the program saying "all others are fake/dcams, use us", and the quote appears to say the same.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @09:47AM (#30376398)

    The correct procedure would be to get rid of the "Adwords for Domains" program entirely.

    There was a time when geeks found it abhorrent that people would buy up thousands of domain names just to fill a site with adverts and pollute search engine indexes. Then Google made an ad program specifically for people who do this, and suddenly it's not a problem any more.

  • Self-interest (Score:4, Interesting)

    by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:01AM (#30376516) Journal

    Google isn't going after scammers in general for the good of the public. From TFA:

    Google said it has not created or endorsed advertisements such as "Use Google to make 1000s of Dollars!"


    Google's name is often used in such schemes because of its recognizable branding and good reputation.

    They're going after someone who is threatening their name, trademark and reputation. You can bet that if it had read "Use Bing to make 1000s of Dollars", Google wouldn't be involved.

  • by NoYob ( 1630681 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:03AM (#30376538)
    Does it matter?

    If I see an advertisement on those Google Adwords or Adsense or whatever, I automatically think they're a scam. It's the same with any and all telemarketers (charities included!), spam email, and junk mail.

    If they're not a scam and if they offer a decent service at a decent price, I will probably find them when I'm shopping for services that they offer - regardless if they advertise with Google or not.

    How do I know if they're legit?

    I search:

    1. BBB.org
    2. FTV.gov
    3. RipoffReport.com
    4. Google [their names] complaints
    5. Resellerratings.com
    6. And others that may be specific to the industry...like FINRA.org for some financial things.

    Of course, the above list isn't foolproof. If a company just started out, there won't be anything.

  • Re:Work at home... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:14AM (#30376628)

    It's hardly enough to live on, but I did paid surveys for a couple of months until the novelty wore off and I realised I could do better things with my time.

    I'd be sent a link to a survey on some household product (e.g. dishwasher powder) and asked about what I bought, how often I used it, whether I liked it. Then there'd be a new product (or just an idea), and they wanted my opinion on that. The survey took about 15-20 minutes to complete, and they'd send me £3, but they were so dull I got fed up and cancelled my account.

    On forums a lot of people race to become "members" of this "panel" [pineconeresearch.co.uk] (they only accept new members occasionally) but I don't think it's worth the effort.

  • Re:No, really?! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @10:58AM (#30376982)

    I'm a gymnast, you insensitive clod. I'm agile enough already!

  • Re:Work at home... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by veganboyjosh ( 896761 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @11:15AM (#30377150)
    I actually used to work at a company who made paper products. Cards, bookmarks, etc. What was unique to this company, and several others around the US, is that they had elements which were handmade. They needed to be assembled. The company would employ assemblers to work at home. Many of the in-office employees would also take work home. Something simple like a bookmark would pay 3 cents per piece. It doesn't sound like much, but once they learn how to do it efficiently, it's possible--and likely--that assemblers would make over $12 per hour. I made over $300 one weekend. I was single, and all I did over the weekend was put together bookmarks, so that wasn't the standard. One problem we had was finding new folks to be at-home assemblers. The job we had was legit. We'd post on craigslist and other places that we were hiring for a legit work at home assembly job, and the ads would always--ALWAYS--be marked as spam, or scam, or not legit. The job was a local one. Ie, you couldn't do it over the internet, or the phone. You also did not have to pay any money for materials or supplies. Those to items seemed to help the legitimacy of our ads, and we would include both in the ads, but the reputation referenced by the parent is certainly there.

    There are work at home jobs, and many are legit. Unfortunately, scammers have found that there are many many people who will pay lots of money for the convenience of some impossible task that pays pennies.
  • threestarsinc.com (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dbreeze ( 228599 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:39PM (#30378006)

    I'll believe Google is serious about stopping fraud when they make it easier to report the hordes of affiliates of http://www.threestarsinc.com/ [threestarsinc.com] who use Gmail accounts to abuse the craigslist job boards. If you'll check this page: http://www.threestarsinc.biz/ [threestarsinc.biz] they spell out their business plan to use job seekers as a quality target for marketers.
      While it may be legit on the the face of it, when combined with their pyramid-like rankings for job applicants who drive more traffic to their sites it has ruined job searching on craigslist. I have wasted MANY hours composing replies to ads only to get the auto-replies directing me to one of their many "front" websites where they collect your information and have you apply for online education and such.
      I spent another couple of hours trying to figure out how to report the abused Gmail accounts to Google. Only after creating a gmail account to gain access to and search their forum did I find a link for reporting abuse which gave an error when submitted. I now just flag any craigslist ad that uses a gmail address to reply.

  • Re:No, really?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @12:54PM (#30378162)
    I had a roommate in college that I believe was caught up in a money-laundering scam. He was processing magazine subscriptions and he had to give the "company" he was working for access to his bank account. The first week of the "business" they deposited $50,000 into his bank account. They then had a constant stream of $1000-2000 transactions into and out of his account. I tried to warn him but he was making $20/hr and didn't want to believe it could be a scam.
  • I used to do this (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:20PM (#30379150)

    I used to do this when I was a teenager. It was one of the three classic telemarketing schemes in Montreal (paper rolls for debit machines was next, listings in fake yellow page magazines is the other). Derog is what made me the most money though.

    Telemarketing companies would pick up leads that contained a high level of people with debt across many high interest credit cards (regular/department store/etc) and offered them a low interest rate credit card where they can stuff all their debt on to, for the cost of thousands.

    The trick to convincing them was:

    "But sir, this is not really an out of pocket expense since the interest savings will pay for it."

    Since most people on the lead sheets got into the position they are in because they were never good at budgeting to begin with, that line was the line that sealed the deal.

    Of course, the caveat to this plan is that you've simply just got a new credit card, and freed up your others to spend more with and really fuck yourself over. So really, the scheme was akin to a sub prime mortgage on your DEBT.

    Naturally, when you're sixteen and realize that you could make a hundreds if not a thousand in a week of part time work, the grand scale of what you're doing isn't obvious.

  • Re:No, really?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @03:34PM (#30379886) Journal
    What ended up happening to him?
  • Re:Self-interest (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @05:14PM (#30380984)

    They don't actually have "work on anything" time, or maybe they did, but they don't any longer. It is a myth at this point.

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