Unless you live under a rock, you've no doubt seen those "Google Cash business opportunity” ads from entities like Google Money Tree and Google Treasure Chest. They seem to be everywhere. UPDATED 8/24 6:05 PM
In reality, these ads are from spammers who aren’t affiliated with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) but appear to be. Unfortunately, Google seems to be allowing them to fly -- vigorously -- under the radar.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission launched a civil action on July 1, 2009, against some of the people pushing this blight meme.
According to the feds: “Google Money Tree, its principals, and related entities allegedly misrepresented that they were affiliated with Google and lured consumers into divulging their financial account information by advertising a low-cost kit that they said would enable consumers to earn $100,000 in six months. They then failed to adequately disclose that the fee for the kit would trigger monthly charges of $72.21…”
But even though the ads blatantly violate Google’s trademark, the folks at AdWords can’t seem to find a way to purge them from their network.
Here’s an ad I found today while searching for “Google Cash” on Google.com:
EasyGoogle Cash? Legit
Earn Cash with EasyGoogle Cash.Make $250+ A Day From Working At Home
The landing page for this ad includes the following inspirational verbiage:
Are you unemployed and do not know where you can make extra money for pay all your expenses to support your family but initially had no idea where to start?
Two years ago I was like in the same situation. I lost my job. But Easy Google Cash helps me out when I was so down and don’t know where to run. It had given me hope and a direction to a positive future despite of difficulties in life. My name is Laurence Reece, a loving husband and a father to three kids. I created this blog to inspire and touch each and everyone’s heart with my story on how I struggle so hard to raise my family from financial crisis with the help of Easy Google Cash.
It looks like a typical get-rich-quick scheme targeting the unemployed. At the bottom of the landing page I noticed a Google AdSense unit:
Amazingly Low Rate. Secure. Quick Approvals. Bad Credit Ok.
Get Payday Cash Loans
Overnight Payday Cash Loans Up To $1500. Bad Credit OK. Act Now!
Google makes a majority of its profits from AdSense, the program that publishes Google AdWords ads on independent Websites. To get into the AdSense program, a publisher has to have its site reviewed by Google.
Google pockets 100 percent of the fee for ads running on Google.com, and about 70 percent of the fee when ads are distributed through AdSense.
When scammers use Google to promote their pages, Google’s take could be even more than what the scammers pocket.
So, I have a few questions for Google:
- Does the Google AdWords team turn a blind eye to abusive advertising?
- How did the Google Cash site noted above get past AdSense review?
- At what point does your financial interest in the proceeds of a scam make you culpable?
Google, reviewing these and the rest of the claims in this blog, had this to say via email from spokesperson Diana Adair:
As Google is not affiliated with these sites, we can't comment on individual claims. However, we recommend that users exercise the same amount of caution they would when evaluating other types of get rich quick claims. If there are trademark concerns regarding sites that misuse Google Trademarks, our Legal team reviews them and takes
appropriate action if necessary. Per the AdWords Content Policy for our program, advertising is not permitted for sites that make false claims. We make every effort to ensure that ads which may violate our policies do not run prior to review, and we offer a feedback form to report violations for AdWords advertisements.
Google, maybe you should employ your advanced technology to block obvious scam ads. You could also hold suspect ads for review by humans. Evidently, a lot of folks could use an honest job.
— Jonathan Hochman, founder, Hochman Consultants