A business known as G Verifier has been offering fake reviews and page one rankings and charging business owners fees for free Google Business profiles (GBP).
G verifier, allegedly owned by Kaushal Patel, had threatened to pay a fee (around $99) or risk their Google Business listings being deactivated or permanently closed. Businesses were also informed positive reviews would be hidden, risking a loss in visibility and rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) and, ultimately, revenue.
Search Engine Land stated that hundreds of existing GBP users had reported this scam since December 2021, and Google is proactively taking action.
Google announced the lawsuit in its blog, The Keyword, on November 29, 2022, stating that it violates its policies regarding deceptive content. Google is continually committed to tackling fraud and malicious activities online. (Google Lawsuit)
According to SERoundtable, Google has already prevented over 12 million attempts to create fake Google Business accounts and over 8 million attempts to steal GBPs from existing business owners.
Google has also provided some tips to help businesses avoid becoming a victim to scammers, including doing research before agreeing to any services, and if what is being offered sounds too good to be true, it’s more than likely that it is.
This is not the first time someone has tried to impersonate Google, and it most certainly will not be the last.
So if you suspect you are a victim of or have been approached by a fraudulent company claiming to represent Google, you can report their activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or file a formal complaint at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.
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