As they say from Google: “Every day we prevent more than 100 million harmful emails from reaching our users, and we routinely cooperate with law enforcement agencies in the fight against evil actors.”
Google has filed a lawsuit
Last December, Google filed a lawsuit against a Russian citizen, to combat illegal activities in the botnet industry and they used legal action to defend small businesses from scammers disguised as Google. By doing so, Google is setting a legal precedent to prevent similar cyber threats and fraud.
The company also points out one very specific scam against which they are taking legal action.
According to the company, one person managed fake websites and used Google products as part of his scheme. The actor used a network of fake websites that claimed to be selling basset hound puppies – with eye-catching photos and fake customer testimonials – to take advantage of people during the pandemic.
PET SCAM IS NOW 35% OF ALL ONLINE SHOPPING SCAMS
The Better Business Bureau recently reported that pet scams now account for 35% of all online shopping scams reported to them and that scams targeted people at their most vulnerable, just as the pandemic led to a record increase in people wanting to own pets.
According to Google search trends, searches for “dog adoption” increased at the start of the pandemic as people spent more time at home. By the end of 2020, 70% of Americans said they owned a pet.
That’s why Google is taking proactive action to set a legal precedent, protect victims, disrupt fraudster infrastructure, and raise public awareness.
“Legal action is just one way we work to combat these types of scams. We build our security into all of our products and use machine learning to filter new threats, and our CyberCrime Investigation Group investigates misconduct and sends referrals to various law enforcement agencies including the Department of Justice to combat nefarious actors engaging in a wide range of scams including pets, covid relief, romance, and tech support scams.
ADDITIONAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO HELP DETECT PET FRAUD
- Watch your pet in person (or via video call) before you pay. That way you can see the seller and the actual pet for sale. More often than not, fraudsters will not comply with the request.
- Use proven payment methods. Avoid sending money or paying with gift cards or prepaid debit cards. And before you pay, research the prices for what you want to buy. If someone is advertising a product at a deeply discounted price, you may be dealing with a fake offer.
- Reverse image search. Search for an object or product of images or a stolen photograph. Using Google Chrome, hover over the photo and right-click, then select “Search for the image on Google”. If that image appears in multiple places, you’re probably dealing with a scam.
- Look for an online retailer. Ask for the company name, number, and address. See which Google search results appear. If you can’t find anything, the name and address are probably fake.