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FTC, Google Go After Scammers

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the cleaning-up-the-hood dept.

Google 64

coondoggie notes that the Federal Trade Commission said it was going after three outfits that allegedly made robocalls to sell worthless credit-card interest-rate reduction programs for large up-front fees (as much as $1,495). And reader Cwix tips us that today Google filed a lawsuit against Pacific WebWorks and other unnamed defendants for allegedly using the company's name and logo to promote fraudulent work-at-home money-making schemes. "Kate Lister, author of Undress for Success — The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home, estimates that more than 95% of Google hits on the words 'work at home' are scams, link to scams, or other dead ends."

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64 comments

Cool (0, Offtopic)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376188)

I got mentioned in the post:-D Yay Me, I feel important now. Back on topic... Im glad google is suing these scammers, still not sure google isn't evil thou.

Work at home... (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376232)

scam.

old news.

Re:Work at home... (3, Interesting)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376628)

It's hardly enough to live on, but I did paid surveys for a couple of months until the novelty wore off and I realised I could do better things with my time.

I'd be sent a link to a survey on some household product (e.g. dishwasher powder) and asked about what I bought, how often I used it, whether I liked it. Then there'd be a new product (or just an idea), and they wanted my opinion on that. The survey took about 15-20 minutes to complete, and they'd send me £3, but they were so dull I got fed up and cancelled my account.

On forums a lot of people race to become "members" of this "panel" [pineconeresearch.co.uk] (they only accept new members occasionally) but I don't think it's worth the effort.

Re:Work at home... (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382770)

3pounds/20minutes? Thats like 3times US minimum wage and you got it for unskilled labor. Its more than I made in any of the part time gigs I did through college; how is that hardly enough to live on?

Re:Work at home... (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383368)

Because it's only once or twice a month.

Presumably, you could find other survey companies, but at some point you may as well get a real job. UK minimum wage is £5.80/hr.

Re:Work at home... (4, Interesting)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30377150)

I actually used to work at a company who made paper products. Cards, bookmarks, etc. What was unique to this company, and several others around the US, is that they had elements which were handmade. They needed to be assembled. The company would employ assemblers to work at home. Many of the in-office employees would also take work home. Something simple like a bookmark would pay 3 cents per piece. It doesn't sound like much, but once they learn how to do it efficiently, it's possible--and likely--that assemblers would make over $12 per hour. I made over $300 one weekend. I was single, and all I did over the weekend was put together bookmarks, so that wasn't the standard. One problem we had was finding new folks to be at-home assemblers. The job we had was legit. We'd post on craigslist and other places that we were hiring for a legit work at home assembly job, and the ads would always--ALWAYS--be marked as spam, or scam, or not legit. The job was a local one. Ie, you couldn't do it over the internet, or the phone. You also did not have to pay any money for materials or supplies. Those to items seemed to help the legitimacy of our ads, and we would include both in the ads, but the reputation referenced by the parent is certainly there.

There are work at home jobs, and many are legit. Unfortunately, scammers have found that there are many many people who will pay lots of money for the convenience of some impossible task that pays pennies.

No, really?! (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376236)

"Kate Lister, author of Undress for Success -- The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home, estimates that more than 95% of Google hits on the words 'work at home' are scams, link to scams, or other dead ends."

Say it isn't true. How ever could someone be so cruel as to scam people who just want to do minimal work, never leave the house, and yet still make thousands per week?

Actually, to be fair, I didn't think that many would be scams - I thought a bigger proportion would be money laundering exercises.

Re:No, really?! (2, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376290)

What I find funny, is that the block quote could have come strait off of one of the scam sites. The book itself (from context of the quote) could very well be a scam.

The sites generally have quotes by the author of the program saying "all others are fake/dcams, use us", and the quote appears to say the same.

Re:No, really?! (5, Funny)

ilikejam (762039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376470)

"people who just want to do minimal work, never leave the house, and yet still make thousands per week?"

You've met our IT Consultants?

Re:No, really?! (2, Funny)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376680)

I am an IT consultant, you insensitive clod.
Now let me tell you about Agile Development...

Re:No, really?! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30376982)

I'm a gymnast, you insensitive clod. I'm agile enough already!

Re:No, really?! (2, Funny)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378072)

Say it isn't true. How ever could someone be so cruel as to scam people who just want to do minimal work, never leave the house, and yet still make thousands per week?

Because running a work-at-home scam requires minimal work, you never have to leave the house, and you still make thousands per week.

Re:No, really?! (2, Interesting)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378162)

I had a roommate in college that I believe was caught up in a money-laundering scam. He was processing magazine subscriptions and he had to give the "company" he was working for access to his bank account. The first week of the "business" they deposited $50,000 into his bank account. They then had a constant stream of $1000-2000 transactions into and out of his account. I tried to warn him but he was making $20/hr and didn't want to believe it could be a scam.

Re:No, really?! (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378448)

I tried to warn him but he was making $20/hr and didn't want to believe it could be a scam.

So is he getting along with his cell-mates ?

Re:No, really?! (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30379886)

What ended up happening to him?

Re:No, really?! (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382838)

Probably nothing. Or if it did, he probably pleaded ignorance while his "company" fled the country before the feds could search their way up the chain of command.

But come on jittles, what really happened?

Re:No, really?! (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#30457832)

No idea. He got married about 6 months after that, we went our separate ways and I eventually moved out of that town.

Re:No, really?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30381850)

"Kate Lister, author of Undress for Success -- The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home,"

Undress, naked at home?

Is there a bed involved?

so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30376316)

No, thought not.

Going to stop offering AdWords on those scam domain squatting pages?

No, thought not.

Going to give back the money to advertisers when they close down scam sites on which adverts have been displayed?

No, thought not.

Thank goodness there's helpful competition in Internet advertising brokerage.

No, thought not.

Re:so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (4, Informative)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376358)

In addition to taking Pacific WebWorks (PWEB) to court, Google said it is continuing efforts to remove scam sites from its index. The company also said it would permanently disable Google AdWords accounts that provide a "poor or harmful" user experience whether or not they use Google's trademark illegally.

Sounds like they plan on trying to get rid of the scams from adwords.

Re:so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30376398)

The correct procedure would be to get rid of the "Adwords for Domains" program entirely.

There was a time when geeks found it abhorrent that people would buy up thousands of domain names just to fill a site with adverts and pollute search engine indexes. Then Google made an ad program specifically for people who do this, and suddenly it's not a problem any more.

Re:so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (2, Informative)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376476)

Well, the article said:

The company also said it would permanently disable Google AdWords accounts that provide a "poor or harmful" user experience whether or not they use Google's trademark illegally.

Re:so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (3, Interesting)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376538)

Does it matter?

If I see an advertisement on those Google Adwords or Adsense or whatever, I automatically think they're a scam. It's the same with any and all telemarketers (charities included!), spam email, and junk mail.

If they're not a scam and if they offer a decent service at a decent price, I will probably find them when I'm shopping for services that they offer - regardless if they advertise with Google or not.

How do I know if they're legit?

I search:

  1. BBB.org
  2. FTV.gov
  3. RipoffReport.com
  4. Google [their names] complaints
  5. Resellerratings.com
  6. And others that may be specific to the industry...like FINRA.org for some financial things.

Of course, the above list isn't foolproof. If a company just started out, there won't be anything.

Re:so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30376578)

You are completely correct. The problem is that the geeks who think tomorrow belong to them are trying to build an informational web paid for by advertising - precisely the adverts that no-one in their right mind would ever click on.

I am happy to pay for my print subscription to quality newspapers. Suddenly it's gone out of fashion to compensate reporters who spend time and money to research a quality article. Bloggers - even if they had the best will and writing skill in the world (lol) - lack the resources needed for quality journalism.

Re:so, is Google going to stop running scam ads? (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30404558)

I've never asked my buddy, Joe Shea, how much it costs to run american-reporter; I only see a discrete google ad, and yet he manages to find a little bit of quality.

Self-interest (3, Interesting)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376516)

Google isn't going after scammers in general for the good of the public. From TFA:

Google said it has not created or endorsed advertisements such as "Use Google to make 1000s of Dollars!"

...

Google's name is often used in such schemes because of its recognizable branding and good reputation.

They're going after someone who is threatening their name, trademark and reputation. You can bet that if it had read "Use Bing to make 1000s of Dollars", Google wouldn't be involved.

Re:Self-interest (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30377900)

You can bet that if it had read "Use Bing to make 1000s of Dollars", Google wouldn't be involved.

...and Microsoft wouldn't take action against them because they'd double Bing's search traffic.

Re:Self-interest (1)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378366)

I wonder if google will be willing to use its huge database (searchresults/e-mails) to track down these scammers.

Re:Self-interest (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378726)

I wonder if google will be willing to use its huge database (searchresults/e-mails) to track down these scammers.

That is what I had hoped for when I first read the summary. The article was a bit of a let-down.

I wonder if any Google employee has tried to use their "work on anything" time to do just that?

Re:Self-interest (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30380984)

They don't actually have "work on anything" time, or maybe they did, but they don't any longer. It is a myth at this point.

Re:Self-interest (2, Informative)

iammani (1392285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30381910)

They do - "We offer our engineers “20-percent time” so that they’re free to work on what they’re really passionate about. Google Suggest, AdSense for Content and Orkut are among the many products of this perk."

Source: http://www.google.com/intl/en/jobs/lifeatgoogle/englife.html [google.com]

Any body working at google care to comment on it?

Re:Self-interest (1)

SnowZero (92219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385080)

It still exists, however it is up to the engineer to make use of it, and many do not. There are complaints from some that it is too hard to use 20% time now, but the vast majority of these cases are not because a manager or someone is trying to stop the engineer from using it, but because they just feel "too busy" to use it.

I've had an active 20% project for about 1/4 of the time I've been working there, and hope to start on a new one soon.

Scams (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376630)

estimates that more than 95% of Google hits on the words 'work at home' are scams, link to scams, or other dead ends

If this is true, doesn't the FTC fraud department have it's job already done for it? If it were 5%, the fraud department would have to really work to find a scam, in this case, just click on a link, and viola, someone to prosecute.

Re:Scams (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376900)

estimates that more than 95% of Google hits on the words 'work at home' are scams, link to scams, or other dead ends

If this is true, doesn't the FTC fraud department have it's job already done for it? If it were 5%, the fraud department would have to really work to find a scam, in this case, just click on a link, and viola, someone to prosecute.

And if only 5% of hits are genuine, it's such a small percentage that it'd be ok to just prosecute and convict all without any investigation. That'd save a ton of taxpayer money!

Webcam stripper? (2, Informative)

AttilaSz (707951) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376668)

"... Kate Lister, author of Undress for Success — The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home..."

Admit it, your first thought was "webcam stripper". Mine was :-)

The website at http://undress4success.com/ [undress4success.com] is actually quite interesting.

And, no, it ain't a webcam stripper :-)

Undress for success? (2, Funny)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376692)

"Undress for Success — The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home"

Is the subtext here that the only way to make money working from home is as a webcam stripper?

Or merely that when you're on the phone to your working-from-home colleague, he may be naked?

Re:Undress for success? (3, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376990)

Or merely that when you're on the phone to your working-from-home colleague, he may be naked?

Actually, it's that when you're on the phone to your working-from-home colleague, he's working concurrently as a webcam stripper. How concurrently? Don't ask. For the love of all that is holy, don't ask.

Re:Undress for success? (1)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30377098)

I'd become a webcam stripper in a heart beat if anyone wanted to see my bloated saggy body.

Re:Undress for success? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30380766)

Damn, your hideous and grotesque body (poetic paraphrasing, my bad) just made 3 bucks. Maybe this work-at-home-naked-in-front-of-your-webcam thing may not be that much of a scam after all. Let me just go ahead and take off my rob and wizard hat here.

How do you shorten a line? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376820)

When I was growing up a movie had this promotion going on in print ads. A large blank page with just one line segment and this question. "How do you shorten this line without erasing any part of it? See the movie blah[*]".

The solution in the movie was "draw a bigger line next to it". Well, the evil of "why do you care if you have nothing to hide" will be pushed aside by bigger tangible evil of these scammers.

[*] blah= iru kOdukaL, (meaning Two linesegments in Tamil), by K Balachandar.

Re:How do you shorten a line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30378314)

Interesting puzzle! But can you also explain the relevance to TFA.

PS: blah should have actually been iru kOdugaL

Re:How do you shorten a line? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30379870)

Well, just yesterday they sparked off a row by saying "privacy concerns are for people with something to hide". This bigger row would kick that off the front pages. BTW g and k are both transliterated to the same glyph in most schemes for Tamil.

Re:How do you shorten a line? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30380428)

Yeah but while transliterated in English, it should be g when you want it to be pronounced as 'g' and k when you want it to be pronounced as 'k' :) . I guess you already knew this.

"Google Go"? (1)

Lazaryn (955844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30376864)

What exactly can a programming language come after scammers in? It makes no sense!

Re:"Google Go"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30378050)

Yeah, you aren't as funny as you think you are, not even on the Internet.

Re:"Google Go"? (2, Funny)

SomeJoel (1061138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378102)

What exactly can a programming language come after scammers in?

That makes no sense.

It makes no sense!

Oh right, you knew that.

Re:"Google Go"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30379640)

@scams = scan;
foreach (@scams) {
    chop;
    split;
    kill;
    die; die; die;
}

It's doable in Perl...

threestarsinc.com (2, Interesting)

dbreeze (228599) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378006)

I'll believe Google is serious about stopping fraud when they make it easier to report the hordes of affiliates of http://www.threestarsinc.com/ [threestarsinc.com] who use Gmail accounts to abuse the craigslist job boards. If you'll check this page: http://www.threestarsinc.biz/ [threestarsinc.biz] they spell out their business plan to use job seekers as a quality target for marketers.
  While it may be legit on the the face of it, when combined with their pyramid-like rankings for job applicants who drive more traffic to their sites it has ruined job searching on craigslist. I have wasted MANY hours composing replies to ads only to get the auto-replies directing me to one of their many "front" websites where they collect your information and have you apply for online education and such.
  I spent another couple of hours trying to figure out how to report the abused Gmail accounts to Google. Only after creating a gmail account to gain access to and search their forum did I find a link for reporting abuse which gave an error when submitted. I now just flag any craigslist ad that uses a gmail address to reply.
 

Robocalls (0, Offtopic)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378474)

I get a robocall from "Card Services" every few days. They never phone when I'm at home, so I can't tell them what I think of them. I also get robocalls offering me a new home security system, and vacations to various locations.

...laura

Re:Robocalls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30380254)

I get a robocall from "Card Services" every few days.

Those guys are still around? I worked from home and had to answer the phone. There is no way to get them to stop calling and the humans working there are lowlife scum. I tried to play along and could never pass all the questions, but they'd still call me back the next day.

My scheme - not a scam (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378652)

Advertising saying "Send me £5 and I will tell you the secret of making money". When then send you cash tell them the secret is to advertise saying "Send me £5 and I will tell you the secret of making money"

Re:My scheme - not a scam (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30418596)

What you are describing is essentially a pyramid scheme, it often works for the initial entrants but as the number of people involved in the scheme grows it becomes impossible to recruit enough suckers for the scheme to continue.

Only 95%? (3, Funny)

pluther (647209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30378812)

Does this mean that 5% of the links are actual legitimate opportunities for me to work at home and earn thousands of dollars a week in my spare time?

*That* should be the headline here.

Are 5% of the penis enlargement ads legitimate, too??

Re:Only 95%? (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30382954)

Does this mean that 5% of the links are actual legitimate opportunities for me to work at home and earn thousands of dollars a week in my spare time?

That seems to be the implied headline: "You can now feel safe to click on our advertisements! We've removed the illegitimate ones!" Of course, not really. Scammers make tons of money from those advertisements and will always have plenty of money and schemes to get more adds.

I used to do this (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30379150)

I used to do this when I was a teenager. It was one of the three classic telemarketing schemes in Montreal (paper rolls for debit machines was next, listings in fake yellow page magazines is the other). Derog is what made me the most money though.

Telemarketing companies would pick up leads that contained a high level of people with debt across many high interest credit cards (regular/department store/etc) and offered them a low interest rate credit card where they can stuff all their debt on to, for the cost of thousands.

The trick to convincing them was:

"But sir, this is not really an out of pocket expense since the interest savings will pay for it."

Since most people on the lead sheets got into the position they are in because they were never good at budgeting to begin with, that line was the line that sealed the deal.

Of course, the caveat to this plan is that you've simply just got a new credit card, and freed up your others to spend more with and really fuck yourself over. So really, the scheme was akin to a sub prime mortgage on your DEBT.

Naturally, when you're sixteen and realize that you could make a hundreds if not a thousand in a week of part time work, the grand scale of what you're doing isn't obvious.

It used to be hard damn work to work-at-home scam (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30379496)

I love how the Internetz has allowed any lazy SOB to be a scammer. What happened to all the hard work you used to have to do in order to "work at home" scam people? Back in the day pre-Internetz, a college roommate of mine answered one of those "stuff envelopes from home" that used to appear in like every college newspaper want ads at the time. It cost like $20 up front or something like that to get the package. When the package arrived, it was basically an envelope with a sheet of paper that said something to the effect of "take out ads in college newspapers advertising to stuff envelopes at home, then make photocopies of this document and mail it to anyone that answers the ad." LOL We laughed so hard at him. Because after all, $20 was a lot of beers back then what with the nickel beer nights and such :)

I got phoned at work by this scam yesterday (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30380262)

Yesterday I got robocalled by this scam at work - which, since I don't ever give out my work phone to a credit card company or bank, know to be bogus.

The FTC needs to shoot to kill the people who do this, and then give their lifeless corpses a fair trial.

Re:I got phoned at work by this scam yesterday (1)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383100)

I propose they need to listen to their recorded calls over and over exactly the same number of minutes their robo-callers spent calling people.

AAARGH they waste so much of my time, fax ink, electricity, text messages at 25cents a piece, with absolutely no thought or effort spent on their part, and returning the annoyance would just waste more of my time. At least pan handlers and muggers give you the courtesy to expend some effort getting money out of you.
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