Google has filed a lawsuit to discourage scammers from posting fake businesses and fake reviews using Google Maps and Business Profiles. The defendants abused Google products to create fake online listings for businesses that do not exist and increase their online position with fake reviews from people who do not exist.
In this case, those in question posted more than 350 fraudulent Business Profiles and tried to boost them with more than 14,000 fake reviews, Renny Hwang, head of litigation at Google, wrote in a post.
Then the bad actors attempted to sell information about consumers who had been lured in through false claims. Google detected and removed the deceptive content and is taking proactive legal action to stop the person from scamming other platforms and protect our users.
The blog post doesn’t identify the persons accused, but the court document does. The defendants listed in the lawsuit are defendants Ethan QiQi Hu; GMBEye; Rafadigital, LLC (“Rafadigital”); and Does 1– 20.
The document stats that the lawsuit aims to stop the “complex and misleading scheme to deceive consumers, business owners, and Google by unlawfully manipulating Google’s industry-leading business listing services.”
The defendants deceive these small business owners too, making unsubstantiated and impossible claims about their ability to guarantee a favorable position in Google’s search results and implying preferential treatment or access with respect to certain Google processes, according to the lawsuit.
The defendants' advertisements and false claims run the gamut from supporting various search-engine optimization and related services like Google Business Profile and Google My Business.
For example, GMBEye’s website and GMBEye.com advertises services such as Premium Business Listing Verification on Google. GMBEye.com’s homepage prominently displays such an advertisement.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other regulators have prioritized holding bad actors responsible for deceiving consumers with fake reviews and misleading endorsements.
Google shared insights with them to tackle fake reviews and other deceptive endorsements globally. The company said it will continue to prioritize trust and safety for both businesses and consumers through proactive litigation and investing in technology to ensure information across our platforms is reliable.