Posted December 8, 2009 6:28 pm by with 21 comments

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In the “Finally!” department, Google is taking legal action against advertisers who used Google’s name and logos to promote their get-rich-quick scams. The “Make Money on Google” ads were rampant in both search and display advertising in the first half of this year. Google cracked down on the search ads in July, but naturally, the scams and the sites continued to flourish.

Google, like a good trademark holder, has finally come to its senses and is now suing the scammers for using its name in vain. They’ve filed suit (PDF) against Pacific WebWorks and other unnamed defendants for a number of counts, including trademark infringement, trademark dilution, cyberpiracy and unfair competition.

The scams worked by advertising that buyers could “make money from Google.” The buyers purchased a “free” kit to teach them how to do this, paying a nominal fee and S&H. However, Google contends in the suit, buyers received nothing of value and were subjected to high recurring charges on their cards. Some buyers even contacted Google for refunds or to stop the recurring fees—another reason why Google feels compelled to sue now.

Pacific WebWorks was slapped with a class action suit last month in Illinois, but the suit sought no injunction to stop their advertising. Google’s, filed in Utah, naturally does petition for an injunction to stop the false advertising until the trial can ascertain whether the claims are true.

The unnamed defendants (listed as “Does 1-50” in the complaint) are kind of like placeholder defendants. Google admits in the complaint that they don’t know everyone who’s running this scam, but that they will amend the complaint once they do. “Upon information and belief,” Google says that the other defendants are materially connected with Pacific WebWorks, though they appear to operate as separate companies. The separate entities use the same website templates, testimonials and other information to purvey their scams.

What do you think? Will Google win? And what took them so long?

  • I’m not usually a fan of suing people/companies, but it’s about time. The ads were annoying and so were the questions from family and friends about the ads. I’m not sure what the scam(s) were but using Google’s name as bait was a great idea, too bad they didn’t have great intentions.

    Good for Google

  • Anthony

    I just fell for one of these scam sites and they said they would only charge $1.97 and i figured big deal even if its fake i might as well give it a shot…but then after they charged me that fee they charged me 40 dollars and put me negative in my bank account and I am absolutely furious…i cant even pay my rent or bills and now im in the whole 40 dollars that i cant afford…I want to sue these BASTARDS too…I want to know how I can get my money back from these jerks…They are seriously causing me stress…and the worst part of all this is my fiance is pregnant and now stressing out even more than she already was because now were negative 40 dollars…this could cause problems with her pregnancy…i want to know how to join google sueing these bastards…I want to hit them as hard as possible for doing this to us…
    anyone with information to how i can join in on sueing them please contact me!

  • We have nothing to do with either suit and do not offer legal advice. However, I can point you to the class action suit filed in Illinois last month:

  • @Jayson, I agree. The ads are clearly deceptive and unfairly use Google’s name, etc. I hope Google wins. It seems they certainly have a strong case.

  • Signs that the recession is over..Google finally decides to bite the hand that feeds it..

  • I don’t know why Google let other people use its name to advertise. Do they need more branding? Huh.

    the Body Guard marketer
    .-= Franck Silvestre´s last blog ..Traffic Evolution By Jonathan Mizel My Review and Bonus =-.

  • I hate those ads, they are everywhere. And yes I fell for one of them a while back. I kind of had been burned before with recurring charges though so I knew what to do.

    I ordered the so called make money with google course and then immediately cancelled. The fine print states that you are automatically enrolled in some kind of membership program. I knew the course was crap but I had to order it because It was part of some get a free Ipod deal website.

    I had to complete x amount of offers to get a free IPod. That was one of the offers. I didn’t get the ipod but i was sent a 500 dollar check.

    I tried it again for a free laptop and failed (advice: stay away from those win a free anything sites). Sorry for my rant.

    Anyways I hope those things stop showing up during my web browsing time ;p
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Commission Payload Review Plus Killer Bonus =-.

  • Good and timely piece as always, Jordan.

    I’m with Jayson. I’ve had relatives and friends — bright people — who don’t necessarily argue back but do ask, “Well, wait a minute. If it’s on Google and they’re not allowed to use Google’s name then what’s going on? This has to be legit, right?”

    Trademark in PPC is not a conversation one willingly takes up with anyone outside the industry so you simply have to grimace at anyone pitching like that and say, “Listen. It looks screwy. Mainstream media never would have allowed it. Heck, NBC wouldn’t let the Glee kids sing at the Macy’s Day Parade during Thanksgiving. But it’s a scam”

    Now there’s a cool post to point them to with relevant facts, so thanks!

    And finally indeed!

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  • This is a huge topic especially since Google is starting to defend its brand publicly. I have several thoughts and theories about this that I address in my blog. I also referenced your post in my blog at the following URL:

  • I say it’s about time, Jordan.
    I’m yet to find anyone who’s not been either extremely annoyed or scammed by those ads. It was surprising how Google let it go on for so long; didn’t they know it was going to get back at them somehow?
    Everyone trusts Google, and it’s in Google’s best interests to protect that trust.

    Go Google; sue them and sue them good.
    .-= David Walker´s last blog ..Live Webinar – Thursday 10 December 5pm EST =-.

  • Perhaps Google was reluctant to sue them, due to PR reasons. People are often very quick to view Google as the big, bad guy. Perhaps they were slow to take legal action lest people view them as just beating up on the little guys.

    Just an idea…

  • Jeff

    I was suckered by these crooks as well. I am with all of you who are pissed off and feel violated. I have been on Disability for over 5 years. This so called $0.99 kit is a kit of dog vomit. I filed a fraud claim with my bank and they are taking this serious. These people are nothing less than yesterday’s toilet paper.

    I am retired from Law Enforcement/Security and I have lots of resources that can dig up these dogs. They are sineless, ball less, cowards who care nothing about you. Come on out and show yourselves you chicken fecal matter! There is a prison cell waiting for you and Bubba is licking his chops.

    Could you possibly be related to Madoff. Well you have made off with innocent people’s money, trying to make extra money for legit reasons. I hope your stomach’s explode with the greed you fill them with. You deserve a black eye at the least from every person you have ripped off.

    Cowards, Cowards, money sucking junkyard dogs! Can’t wait until you are dug up from your pit of vomit and paraded all over the national news! You suck and will be caught!

  • nou

    OMG! so what does this mean? will i get my money back or not? this is seriously pissing me off! theres no such things as making money from home, everything is a fake around here nowadays!

  • Don

    Yes Google will win. Now if they would stop their illegal practices, I would be happy. What illegal practices you ask?

    1. Giving user info to the government. In essence, allowing the government to spy on us without probable cause.
    2. Censorship. Removing videos speaking out against government corruption.

    The two go hand in hand.

  • @Don, censorship by non-government entities is not illegal. The first amendment only bars congress from interfering with free speech:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Legally, Google is free to censor the content on their websites or search engine.

    Of course, they’ll need to be very careful, or they will make their users angry and get a poor reputation, but it’s not illegal.
    .-= Adam Thompson´s last blog ..101 Dofollow Social Bookmarking Sites =-.

  • Pretty doubtful they’d be able to find all of the scammers (except the stupid ones) without some serious Federal Law Enforcement involvement, as many of the ones running the other scams seemed to be following the model of using a lot of daughter companies (mostly out of the UK) in the same way the Estonian crime ring did as discussed in this TrendMicro article:

    which is why you see so many different UK corporations popping up in what seems like an assembly line fashion.

    So, put that together with the recent study Jason Sharman did about how easy it is to set up anonymous corporations tied to anonymous bank accounts here:,%20offshore%20transparency.pdf

    …and it should make it incredibly difficult for Google to track down the actual perpetrators through a traditional discovery process.

  • Google has long way to go in terms of cleaning the mess.

    There are so many companies which are using google name and running a big paid campaign on google itself proclaiming themselves associated with google.

    But this is a good initiative i think.

  • Eddie Ryland

    They’re still going on with their scamming scheme. Certain sites still display similarly deceptive advertisments.

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