MANILA, Philippines - Global search giant Google ramped up its campaign against online fraud recenlty by hauling to court online scammers who used the the search engine's name to dupe clients.
In a post on the official Google blog, the company sued Pacific WebWorks and several other unnamed defendants for using the Google name and trademark for a series of bogus work-at-home schemes.
Some of the fake money-making schemes identified in the complaint are 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.
"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," the company said.
In its complaint, Google said it is suing Pacific WebWorks, a Nevada corporation with an office in Salt Lake City, for trademark infringement, dilution, unfair competition and federal cyberpiracy. It said the company victimizes unsuspecting consumers by prominently displaying the Google logo, suggesting sponsorship by the company (Google) and by urging consumers to obtain a kit supposedly showing how to make money working from home with Google.
The kit is advertised for free except for nominal shipping and handling charge or access fee. However, people who sign up for offers have their credit cards charged with substantial recurring monthly fees while getting little to nothing in return.
Aside from taking legal action against the scammers, Google said it is working to remove scammy URLS from its index and will permanently disable AdWords accounts that provide a poor or harmful user experience, whether or not they use Google's trademarks illegally.
It added that users 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."
"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," it said.