Google puts scam ad atop search results for Amazon

In the runup to this year’s Black Friday shopping frenzy, a search for Amazon on Google was leading users to a tech-support scam.

It was Thanksgiving Day and all through the land people were preparing to launch their credit card numbers into the ether in return for a bounty of discounted loot.

But some who searched on Google for Amazon saw at the top of the results an ad purportedly from the e-commerce giant, but instead designed to part victims with their cash — and who knows what else.

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Not only did test cases by CBS News reveal a bid to fleece internet users with a malware scam, an attempt was made to get a user to hand over full control of their computer.

Clicking on the ad brought users to an app running on a Facebook page, then to a fake support site said to be run by Microsoft, saying the computer was infected with malware, CBS reported.

The news network called a number on the scammers’ site, and reached a man called “Robert” who had what appeared to be a South Asian accent, CBS reported.

“He asked for the error code found on the pop-up and said he would need to take remote access of the computer to resolve the issue,” according to CBS.

The man also said he worked for Microsoft in New York City, but wouldn’t say where in the city he lived.

“He quickly became agitated and hung up when asked whether the site was a scam operation designed to lure users into forking over money for supposed anti-malware software,” CBS reported Nov. 23.

The network called again, and a man who answered said the supposed malware problem could be fixed for a “one-time fee of $149.99,” according to CBS.

It was unknown how many people, if any, were confronted by the scam or ensnared by it.

Google said it had taken down the ad, according to CBS.

“This was an abuse of our platform,” the Mountain View tech giant told the network.

“We strictly prohibit advertising of illegal activity and have removed these ads and suspended the account.”

The Federal Trade Commission describes tech-support scams and how to respond to them.

“Some scammers call and claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple,” the agency said on its website.

“Other scammers send pop-up messages that warn about computer problems. They say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer.

“They claim to be ‘tech support’ and will ask you to give them remote access to your computer. Eventually, they’ll diagnose a non-existent problem and ask you to pay for unnecessary – or even harmful – services.”

Here’s what to do if you’re hit with such a scam, according to the agency:

“If you get an unexpected pop-up, call, spam email or other urgent message about problems with your computer, stop. Don’t click on any links, don’t give control of your computer and don’t send any money.”


Photo: A man walks past a building on the Google campus in Mountain View in 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


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  • Red Dutton

    this wont be the last scam ad google places they have them riddles on the play store for these ads on other games that use google ad services