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Thousands of Fake Google Maps Listings Redirect Users To Fraudulent Sites (bleepingcomputer.com) 36

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Tens of thousands of fake listings are added to Google Maps each month, redirecting users to fraudulent websites selling phony or overpriced services, or are part of some referral scam. Researchers say that 74% of these abusive listings were for local businesses in the U.S. and India, mainly in pockets around certain local hotspots, especially in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Houston, or Los Angeles. In most cases, the scheme was simple. A customer in need of a locksmith or electrician would search Google Maps for a local company. If he navigated to the website of a fake business or called its number, a call center operator posing as the business' representative would send over an unaccredited contractor that would charge much more than regular professionals. If a customer's situation were urgent, the contractor would often charge more than the initial agreed upon price. Researchers said that 40.3% of all the listings for fake companies they found focused on on-call services, such as locksmiths, plumbers, and electricians, and were for customers who were desperate to resolve issues. Further, overall, operators of fake listings managed to hijack 0.5% of Google Maps' outbound traffic for the studied period.
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Thousands of Fake Google Maps Listings Redirect Users To Fraudulent Sites

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  • This is why we can't have good things.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      redirecting users to fraudulent websites selling phony or overpriced services

      So only Apple, Best Buy and Microsoft are allowed to sell overpriced products?

  • With Google maps, at least you will get there, even if it is fake. With Apple maps, you never know.
  • Researchers say that 74% of these abusive listings were for local businesses in the U.S. and India, mainly in pockets around certain local hotspots, especially in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Houston, or Los Angeles.

    I am sure one of these large metro areas is in India, why else would they include India in the countries list? 35 cities in India [citymayors.com] with population more than 1 million. Top 50 cities in USA [infoplease.com]

  • by FrankHaynes ( 467244 ) on Monday April 10, 2017 @06:57PM (#54210591)

    I have seen some cases where, say a restaurant was listed at a location that is actually an empty field. So Mr. Google Maps User gets directions and wastes time and gas driving to an empty field. My guess is that such listings are submitted by the competitor of the restaurant or maybe a disgruntled former employee or customer.

    I have also seen my submissions to update bogus locations or bad info go unpublished, so for all we know some of the Google Maps community editors are Bad Guys themselves who seek to keep certain listings with bad info for the benefit of their buddies or businesses who pay them to keep things that way.

    tl;dr Crowdsourcing works only as long as the crowd is trustworthy.

  • If they actually perform the requested work, they're not exactly fake companies -- just bad companies with deceptive pricing and uncertified workmanship.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday April 10, 2017 @07:47PM (#54210825)

    The ingenuity of shitbag scammers never ceases to amaze me. They manage to pollute everything, large or small. How I wish they would all die in a fire.

    • Hello Sir!
      I offer you my service, "kill shitbag scammers in a fire", for low price of only $450 per for each fire made!
      I can easily be gotten by calling my office in NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES.
      Please search google maps for my servicing!

  • Is that how I ended up in Walley World? https://www.bustle.com/article... [bustle.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I am Advocating to the President the Extra-Judicial Killing of All Alphabet and Google Employees back to 1 January 1998.

    Ha ha Ice Cream Man, Prof. Eric Der Schmidity!

    Die ... Ignominiously !

  • Here [xkcd.com]. Anybody going there ?
  • I saw this years ago when I was looking for a locksmith to get a specialized key made. A lot of the "local" locksmith listings are directed to the same nationwide company. I suspect that company then turns around and sends out a legitimate locksmith for a hefty fee.

    The problem is that most people aren't looking for a locksmith unless it's an emergency. They don't have time to research a reputable one. After this discovery, I make it a point to save the phone number of any locksmith businesses I see ar

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