The Internet, with its suite of free tools, has enabled small businesses to establish a strong online presence, engage with their customers, and expand their operations. However, such a dynamic platform is not without risks, particularly from scammers who manipulate the system to gain financial benefits through fraudulent methods such as creating fake reviews and business listings. This not only hurts business, but also negatively affects consumers. In a move towards curbing these malicious activities, Google has initiated a consumer protection lawsuit to stop such fraudulent schemes.
Renee Huang, Head of Litigation at Google:
“The Internet and free tools like Google Search, Maps, and YouTube help small businesses build an online presence, interact with customers, and grow their operations. Unfortunately, scammers often game the system by creating fake reviews and listings for financial gain, harming businesses and consumers. Today Consumer Protection sued to help put an end to these types of malicious schemes.
Our case targets a bad actor who conducted a concerted campaign to defraud consumers and business owners by fraudulently attempting to manipulate our services in favor of small businesses. As our lawsuit shows, this bad actor posted over 350 fraudulent profiles and tried to back them up with over 14,000 fake reviews. It then attempted to sell information on consumers who had been lured in by such false claims. While we have detected and removed this deceptive content, we are taking proactive legal measures to prevent this bad actor from defrauding on other platforms and to protect our users.
Customers trust Google to deliver trusted and reliable results. But that trust is lost if they spend money based on fake reviews. This has real-world implications: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cited a survey in which consumers reported wasting an average of $125 each year for inaccurate reviews.
We work to stay ahead of scammers and protect small businesses by closely monitoring 24/7 for fraudulent content on our products, using a combination of people and technology. In 2022, we’ve protected more than 185,000 companies from further breaches after suspicious activity and attempted abuse are detected. We also stopped 20 million attempts to create fake business profiles in 2022, and continue to invest in new technologies and processes to keep information about our products useful and reliable.
The FTC and other regulators have prioritized holding bad actors responsible for deceiving consumers with fake reviews and misleading endorsements. We share our insights with them to deal with fake reviews and other deceptive endorsements globally. We will continue to prioritize trust and security for both businesses and consumers through proactive litigation and investing in technology to ensure the reliability of information across our platforms. “
Filed Under: News Tools
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