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Google Lawsuit Highlights Home Work Scam

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 09, 2009 12:15 PM

Many people need a job these days. And unfortunately, desperate need for income is the perfect bait for scams offering too good to be true workk from home opportunities.

Google has taken aim at one such alleged scam operation which Google claims used the search engine company's trademarks to lure in consumers.

Google filed a lawsuit against Pacific Webworks of Salt Lake City, Utah for trademark infringement this week. The Google lawsuit puts the spotlight on a larger home work scamthrough which the company is allegedly targeting vulnerable consumers.

PC World reports that Pacific Webworks offers a toolkit to help people work from home, but uses the Google trademark without any permission from Google in order sell the toolkits.

The company would sell unwitting consumers toolkits that were marketed as "The Home Business Kit for Google," "Google StartUp Kit" and "Google Adwork." They would then charge these consumers continually after the initial purchase. The Google lawsuit alleges that the company offered "little of value, or nothing at all, in return for their payments."

This lawsuit is in addition to a pending class action lawsuit against Pacific Webworks. ABC News reports how the company used their own name along with CNN in order to erroneously promote their product. Both news outlets deny any connection with the company.

In fact, ABC News quotes Alison Southwick from the Better Business Bureau as saying that the company used the news outlets names as well as Google in order to gain credibility for their scam: Consumers think, "Oh, this was featured in a news story, so it must be legitimate, but usually buried in the bottom in very fine print, it says, 'We are not affiliated with ABC, CNN, etc..'"

Another confusing part of the scam is that the company advertised on news sites. Ms. Tory Johnson, CEO of Women for Hire told ABC News: "That's a key distinction. Consumers, Web site visitors should look for the fine print that says 'sponsored ads,' 'advertisement' or 'sponsored link.'"

In the meantime, Google is frustrated because the company seems like a Medusa with so many different appendages stemming from one company. The lawsuit claims that the company used "an ever-changing coterie of Web sites that utilize the same templates to generate the same fake news stories, fake testimonials, fake blogs and pressure tactics to drive unsuspecting consumers to credit card processing sites like those run by PWW."

After running into consumer complaints from the scam, Google decided to file this lawsuit. According to PC World, these consumers were directed by Google to complain to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), but these consumers had a hard time getting their money back. The lawsuit alleges that Pacific Webworks has "generated millions of dollars in revenue from these recurring charges."

How do you protect yourself from companies like Pacific Webworks? Check out Google's tips on how to avoid money scams. And make sure to check out our Related Resources links.

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