After receiving many complaints, Google has announced it has filed a lawsuit against a company that has made it its business to impersonate Google. The company going by the name of “G Verifier” deployed telemarketing and website tactics that were intended to persuade people they were doing business with Google itself.
“Since approximately December 2021, hundreds and hundreds of Business Profile merchants have contacted Google to complain about G Verifier’s harassing and deceptive scheme. Many of these merchants failed to realize that they had been scammed until after they had paid G Verifier.”
The defendants in the lawsuit, GVerifier Technologies LLC d/b/a G Verifiers and G Verifier Pro; GVerifier Softech Services LLC d/b/a G Verifiers and G Verifier Pro; Shri HariGoMarketin LLC d/b/a GHyper, GHyperlocal, and G Verifications; and Infinity GoMarketin LLCd/b/a GHyper, GHyperlocal, and G Verifications (collectively “G Verifier”) are being accused by Google of selling fake or worthless services, and making false and misleading statements about their identity, products, and supposed affiliation with Google to sell those services.
One of G Verifier’s websites
One of the services G Verifier sells are Business Profiles. A Business Profile is a free tool that helps business owners showcase their business on Google Search and Maps. With Search and Maps, users can explore and search for businesses in a given area. The resulting Business Profiles display certain information about a business, including its street address, opening hours, website, phone number, and so on.
Because it helps consumers find these businesses, it has been the object of manipulation before. Only then the goal was to create fake Business Profiles or steal existing ones from the rightful owners.
G Verifier claimed that owners of Business Profiles had to pay a fee to continue to use that service. When one of the intended victims told a G Verifier telemarketer that this was a free service, the scammer allegedly said Google was changing the program and re-verifying companies to make sure they were still open during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every company wants to be on the top of the Google search results in their area of expertise. The hard and honest way to do that is to create meaningful and authoritative content and word-of-mouth marketing. But G Verifier claimed it knew a shortcut and offered to, for a payment, help the business to be displayed among the top results in Google Search. Google says these statements are false and misleading because they imply superior placement among organic search results. No service can guarantee that Google’s search engine, which uses a complex algorithm, will place a particular webpage on the first page of results, much less that it will be the very first result.
Another part of the complaint by Google is that G Verifier regularly claims to be a “department of Google” or otherwise a part of Google, or that it “works for Google” to verify or validate business listings. Also its websites were found to be misusing the Google logo and other company signage to legitimize the fraudulent enterprises.
Google states in its blog about the lawsuit:
“Today’s legal action is one part of our ongoing commitment to protect people, fight fraud, and do our part to stop malicious actors. This is important because scams disproportionately target individuals, small businesses and those without the resources to protect themselves. It’s key to establishing legal precedent for a safer web.”
Don’t let scammers rush you into a bad decision. They will almost always claim urgency to make you do just that. Take the time to research the matter and look into the details.
If you receive an unwanted or unexpected call from someone claiming to work for an organization you do business with, feel free to hang up and reach out to that organization through the regular channels. To them it’s a small inconvenience, to you it provides certainty about who you are dealing with.
Report scammers to help others avoid falling victim. If you’re in the US and continue to receive unwanted calls, you can submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). To file a formal complaint, go to www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
Many scammers are professional criminals and scams are common because they work. It makes sense to prepare yourself as thoroughly as you can to spot them, but we all fall short sometimes. There is no shame in falling for a scam, and it isn’t your fault if you do.
Stay safe, everyone!
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