Google is suing Pacific WebWorks and several unnamed defendants for running a scam selling work-from-home tool kits using Google's name. According to Google, people who signed up for the offer were hit with unfair reoccurring monthly credit card charges.
a lawsuit Dec. 7
court in Utah accusing a company of using its brand name in a
work-from-home scam and slamming people with suspect credit
According to Google, Salt
Lake City-based Pacific WebWorks and several unnamed defendants offered a tool kit
for stay-at-home online workers. The tool kit is advertised as free, minus a
nominal shipping and handling fee. However, Google alleges in the lawsuit that
people who sign up for the offer have their credit cards hit with monthly fees
and receive "little of value, or nothing at all, in return for their payments."
"Because of the prominent
use of the GOOGLE mark and false or misleading
statements in the advertisements
, consumers are tricked into believing-falsely-that
these work-at-home kits are offered, sponsored or endorsed by Google," the
lawsuit states. "Consumers have sent letters and e-mails to Google complaining
about fraudulent charges. ... Google has informed the victims that Google is not
affiliated with the scam and has referred victims to the Federal Trade
Pacific WebWorks did not
respond to an eWEEK inquiry in time for publication. The suit also names 50
"John Does" Google believes are complicit in the schemes but cannot
In November, a class-action
suit was filed against Pacific WebWorks in
company's work-at-home business. Google said it decided to file its own suit,
since the class action may not stop Pacific WebWorks from using the Google
trademark to advertise the schemes.
"Just as you should be
careful about giving out financial information in the real world, you should be
skeptical and review any offers online before sending any information, and
always be on guard when presented with an offer that seems too good to be
true," blogged Google Support Engineer Jason Morrison of the Search Quality
Team and Stacey Wexler, Google's senior litigation counsel.
According to Google, the scheme is advertised under a
variety of names, including Google Adwork, Google Biz Kit, Google Cash and Earn
Google Cash Kit. After making an initial payment, many consumers receive
nothing, the suit said. Others, however, were either sent DVDs containing
viruses and no information of value or a
and access to an online portal
containing information available free of charge elsewhere on the Web.
Consumers are not enrolled in any program that provides
opportunities for generating income, Google states in the suit. Instead, they
were charged monthly fees as high as $79.90.
there's no secret kit that can guarantee riches, many people really do
make money online," Morrison and Wexler blogged. "In our experience,
the best way to build a business on the web is to really serve users-offer
useful products and services or write about something you have a passionate
interest in. If you are wondering if a particular program is legit, Google's
business and advertising programs can be found from our home page, and the best
place to find real jobs at Google is google.com/jobs."