Scammers Buying Adwords Could Scare People Away From Clicking Google Ads

from the apparently dept

By now it should be pretty obvious that there are all sorts of lucrative online scams out there, often run by organized crime groups. The latest, though, is an interesting move (though it’s not clear how widespread this is). Some scammers are apparently purchasing Google Adwords ads on high traffic keywords, but pointing those ads to a malware site that installs a trojan keylogger. Victims may never even know they went to a scam site, as the scammers simply pass the visitor through to a real advertising page after stopping long enough at an interim page to have the keylogger kick in. Of course, depending on your perspective, this could be seen as either good or bad. On the good side, it could mean that traditional means of tricking people into visiting sites haven’t been working as well lately, so scammers now need to spend some money to convince people to visit questionable sites. Others, however, might point out that it’s equally likely that these types of scams have become so lucrative that it’s actually quite worthwhile to invest a little money in getting more victims, and that the ROI on such things is likely to be quite high. Then again, there’s a pretty good chance that the scammers aren’t actually paying and are simply using stolen credit card info. From Google’s standpoint, a report like this is potentially a huge worry. If this becomes more common, especially on big time keywords, it could seriously wipe away some of the trust people have that Google ads are safe. If that happens to enough people, it could be a drain on Google’s earnings as a group of people simply stop clicking on google ads. Google claims it’s blocked a bunch of these already, but if reports start coming out that there are victims of this type of thing (we’ll note that, in typical security industry FUD style, there’s no actual evidence that anyone has fallen victim to this scam) it could represent a big challenge to Google’s business model.


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Comments on “Scammers Buying Adwords Could Scare People Away From Clicking Google Ads”

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14 Comments
exGoogleR says:

Adwords are already suspect

from a lot of perspectives.

First, they are slow to kill bogus click charges.

Then they kill legit sites for other’s clickfraud that had nothing to do with the webmaster.

Also, has anyone else noticed how many almalgamators show up in their search results now?

first do no eeeevvviiiiiiiillllllllll

third in, best yet : )

Anonymous Coward says:

screw google ads

let the scammers do what they will. the less google ads the better. it’s funny how no one in techdirt can ever say anything bad about google. if these were MS ads they would be all over them however, since it’s google, they somehow find the need to defend ads!! what the hell? it’s almost as bad as wired magazine never saying anything bad about apple.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: screw google ads

it’s funny how no one in techdirt can ever say anything bad about google.

Actually, we say bad stuff about Google all the time. In fact, this very post is basically saying that this could be a big problem for Google. I’m not sure how that’s saying something good about them.

But for other examples of us saying bad things about Google:

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061220/194008.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070406/094002.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070418/025806.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070129/005115.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070406/135305.shtml
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20070215/095746.shtml

And those are all pretty recent. There are plenty more.

if these were MS ads they would be all over them however, since it’s google, they somehow find the need to defend ads!! what the hell?

We simply say what we think, and that includes if Google does something stupid. We have no special love for Google and it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that there are Google ads on the site, which bring in very little revenue for us anyway.

Again, how are we defending the ads by saying that scammers are scamming Google and that could seriously hurt Google? That seems like the opposite. It’s saying that Google could have a big problem on its hands.

Rick says:

I Block'em Anyway...

Personally, I use FireFox with the Adblock plugin to block all the ads I possibly can. Adwords being one of them. I dispise having advertisements crammed down my throat at every turn.

Even if I didn’t block the ads, I wouldn’t click on the Google Advertisements because while the “target” the ads to you, they really don’t match up most of the time anyway.

just me says:

This is becoming a big problem. You have search terms spitting out links that are ranking high in Googles searches that are real bad news if you visit. It almost looks like that many servers will be online scanning links in search engines to be sure they are valid, and putting the scams on blacklist. I am not sure how a search engine validates websites. But i do know they have ways to tell if you are trying to scam the search engines. But this is very limited. A couple plugins help everyday users. siteadvisor is good to help you sort through the masses of links, and callingID link adviser. You really can’t do searches anymore without these if you use search engines a lot or not. Both do a decent job of letting you know if a site is good or not. If a site has not been listed on one of the advisor’s, it is a good idea not to go there unless you know first hand info on the website.

I guess all search engines will have to put their heads together, and think of the best way to stop the scams. I don’t think it will be easy.

Perhaps before listing webpages on search engines, there should be a two week wait, and then a scan of their files before the pages are indexed. Plus the website wishing to be indexed does not have a clue when it will be done etc. Maybe even a followup later on too?

Yes it has flaws, but it will slow them down some,

If not this way, then perhaps it is time for Hosting company’s to take a little responsibility for whom they host? Is it too much to ask of them to check out their own customers?

It may even be the end of free hosting too.

As always… No one really online wants to take the Security initiative to stop any of this abuse, just pass it on to someone with the programming knowhow, and let them create yet another security software.

Pretty soon computer users will have far more Security Apps, than anything else on their computer. A lot of space used because many would rather cover the problem, than try to fix it.

Dustin Kelleher says:

google scam adds

Why google do you let scammers post adds and scam people out of money everyday???? look at saparis, 7500% return on your investment, just becouse they pay you big bucks means its ok for them to scam people out of hard earned cash??? These scammers have to get whats coming to them real soon its going to be sweet sweet justice.

mike says:

google keywords and ad scams

Ive been scammed by official-lookig sit offering free version fo Pagemaker 5 desktop publishing software app. How can you list these thieves/miscreants ?
And oh yes – I’m totally pissed of that you allow/create keyword ads. They are ruining my reading of every file I open. How can I make these word-sores all go away permanently ?

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