A new scam has been detected which uses Google's name in a get rich quick scheme.
Websense Security Labs detected the ‘making easy money with Google' as circulating for some time, and in the last few weeks, a new wave of such scams has emerged using Google's reputation to sell 'working from home' kits that claim Google is hiring people.
It said that the primary way of propagation and to increase exposure of those kits is through legitimately-bought advertising space, and the marketing of the fake kits is designed to work with affiliates. For every kit sold the affiliate gets a cut of the profits.
Carl Leonard, senior manager of Websense Security Labs, said: “This aggressive campaign, which preys on a population weakened by the economic downturn, demonstrates how cybercrime has moved on from the spotty teenage hacker in his bedroom to a sophisticated business run with all the trimmings.”
It is not only Google that has been affected, as other brands such as Yahoo, Microsoft and Dell have been exploited with the average user affected and confused. This has also led Google to look into taking legal action against the group/company behind the campaign, and also some related individuals.
In a blog post on the 8th December, Google said that to fight back it had filed a suit against Pacific WebWorks and ‘several other unnamed defendants'.
Jason Morrison, support engineer (search quality team), and Stacey Wexler, senior litigation counsel at Google, said: “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.
“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. That said, we can't guarantee that schemes like these won't pop up, like the proverbial ‘Whack-A-Mole', someplace else online - either on a different network or under a different name.
“We can solve only part of the problem - the rest is up to you. Just as you should be careful about giving out financial information in the real world, you should be sceptical 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.”