Google sues local company over work-at-home scam

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Internet giant Google plans to fight online scammers in federal court here in Salt Lake City. The online search king filed a lawsuit Monday to shut down bogus websites that use its brand to dupe consumers.

In this civil suit, Google claims a Salt Lake City web company and others run up charges on victims' credit cards, using the Google brand to pull off the alleged scam. These are work-at-home offers that entice you to earn big bucks with no experience, and Google wants a jury trial to put an end to it.

You may have encountered these schemes via Internet advertisements or promotional e-mails: "Easy cash using Google", "Make up to $978 a day" and "Profits at home using Google."

Too good to be true? The search engine giant says they are. Google claims advertising scams like these are defrauding the public by misusing its famous brand.

...despite hundreds of consumer complaints and our own efforts to keep these sites from tricking people, some scams continue.


"It's really unfortunate, because they use the Google name and logo to trick people into thinking that they have a legitimate business opportunity, when in reality they just want to get your credit card number and add extra charges," says Google spokesman Jason Morrison.

Google claims Pacific WebWorks Inc., based in Salt Lake City, and 50 other fictitiously-named defendants committed cyber-piracy and trademark infringement.

In federal court papers, Google argues these websites "deceive the public" and misuse its logo to lure unsuspecting consumers into getting tool kits to supposedly make money at home. But, "after making this initial payment, many consumers receive nothing."The suit claims they are subjected to continuing monthly fees that often exceed $50.

**Names to be wary of:**
- Google Adwork - Google ATM - Google Biz Kit - Google Cash - Earn Google Cash Kit - Google Fortune - Google Marketing Kit - Google Profits - The Home Business Kit for Google - Google StartUp Kit - Google Works
"We really do want to send the message that it's completely unacceptable to use Google's name to trick users in this way," Morrison says. "We want to get these sites down and we want to make sure that sites that are creating work from home, make-money, get-rich-quick-type schemes, aren't using Google's name inappropriately." The Better Business Bureau of Salt Lake City has plenty of complaints against Pacific WebWorks, and first cited the company in 2007.

"There's more than 800. We have 116 complaints that are pending and 732 that are closed," says Jane Driggs, president of the Better Business Bureau of Utah.

The company tells the BBB that it will take care of these complaints. The President of Pacific WebWorks told KSL News Tuesday afternoon he cannot comment on the suit.

But even if this suit stops this company from pirating Google's good name, this kind of scam keeps spreading.

"There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies who are doing this -- and they're using Google, and they're using Twitter," Driggs says. "They're using anything that is new and different to get somebody to buy into the scam."

Morrison says Google is doing everything it can to protect its users from getting scammed.

"We've been working really hard to make sure that we keep these sorts of scams out of our systems so that the ads that Google serves don't take people to scams," Morrison says.

To protect yourself scams like these, known as trial offers, read the terms and conditions closely. If you don't like the terms and conditions, don't sign up and don't give out your credit card number.


Story compiled with contributions from Jed Boal and Andrew Adams.

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