Today, Google announced a lawsuit against scams targeting small businesses. Scammers have been impersonating Google and charging a fee to set up a Business Profile — a free tool offered by Google that enables businesses to show up in search results and maps with essential information like reviews, address, contact info and photos.
The scam consists of making predatory telemarketing calls to small businesses and attempting to charge them for verification of their profile. It also has a website selling fake positive and negative reviews to influence how businesses show up in results on search and maps.
Scams that prey on small businesses are rampant. In 2021 alone, Google stopped “more than 12 million attempts from bad actors to create fake Business Profiles and nearly 8 million attempts from bad actors to claim Business Profiles that didn’t belong to them,” according to the announcement.
Google’s lawsuit signifies an ongoing and proactive effort to crack down on vulnerable targets. Earlier this year it took legal action against a scam capitalizing on people’s loneliness during the pandemic by claiming to sell puppies. It also won a legal case against malware called Glupteba which stole cookies, credentials, and mined cryptocurrencies from infected users.In the announcement, Google says it is important to “do its part to stop malicious actors” because of how these scams disproportionately affect small businesses and individuals that don’t have the resources to protect themselves. “It’s key to establishing legal precedent for a safer web,” the post continued.