Technology.am (Dec. 08, 2009) — Google is taking authorized action to end companies from supposedly using the search giant’s name to trap public into paying for supposed work-at-home kits advertised online and in e-mails.
The company filed a court case on Monday in federal court in Salt Lake City in opposition to Pacific WebWorks and other, unidentified defendants alleging trademark infringement and dilution, unjust competition, federal cyber piracy, and infringement of customer sales practices. The lawsuit can be amended to include the names of further defendants as they are exposed.
“This action seeks to discontinue a prevalent Internet advertising scam that is defrauding the public by misusing the prominent Google brand,” the suit says. “The scam victimizes innocent consumers by highly displaying the famous Google mark, by signifying sponsorship by the petitioner Google Inc., and by urging consumers to acquire a kit apparently showing them how to make money working from home with Google.”
A call to Pacific WebWorks looking for comment on allegations of scam was not returned on Monday.
People are targeted either via online ads, pop-up ads, or promotional e-mails that guarantee information on how to make money by working at home. The ads characteristically show the Google brand significantly and comprise a link to a site with what looks like genuine news articles, blog postings, or social-networking posts and sites featuring testimonials from people claiming to have made thousands of dollars for each month from the program.
Consumers are asked to pay an “instant access” fee for access to a members-only portal or a “shipping and handling fee” for a DVD that allegedly explains how to make money through the program, according to the court case. Many victims who shell out the fees, normally a few dollars, either do not get DVDs, they receive DVDs that include viruses or they get access to not related free site, such as Google’s online help center, the suit says.
In the meantime, people who have provided their credit card information, e-mail, and home addresses discover that their credit cards are subsequently charged $50 to $79.90 every month, according to the lawsuit. Customers find it hard, if not impossible, to terminate the charges or get refunds, the suit alleges.
The defendants are part of a network that reuses Web sites and shares tools to be responsible for the scams with little attempt, the lawsuit alleges.