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12/8/2009
07:04 PM
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Google Fights 'Google Money' Fraud Scheme

In an effort to protect its brand, Google is suing a company offering kits that purport to reveal how to earn money from home using Google.

Google on Tuesday revealed that it had filed a trademark infringement lawsuit to prevent Pacific WebWorks, based in Nevada, and other unidentified defendants from using Google's name to promote its money-making scheme.

The scheme goes by a variety of names, including Google Adwork, Google ATM, Google Biz Kit, Google Cash, Earn Google Cash Kit, Google Fortune, Google Marketing Kit, Google Profits, The Home Business Kit for Google, Google StartUp Kit, and Google Works.

"At the heart of the scheme is a false representation that consumers can participate in a Google-sponsored program that will allow them to make hundreds of dollars a day working at home performing a simple task that requires no particular experience or qualifications," Google's complaint explains. "Although the program is often advertised as 'free,' in fact consumers must pay an 'instant access' fee for online access to a members-only portal, or a 'shipping and handling fee' for a DVD, that, they are told, will explain how to make money through the program."

The complaint states that those who chose to participate in these programs often receive nothing, a DVD infected with malware, or a DVD with Google support documents that are available for free online.

Google's filing follows recent legal action by the Federal Trade Commission against differently named businesses involved in a similar scheme and by an Illinois plaintiff against Pacific WebWorks.

Google said it is acting because neither of these other lawsuits calls for immediate injunctive relief.

At a Senate hearing in September, Jon Leibowitz, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission described in prepared remarks how an entity known as Google Money Tree used the false promise of a lucrative work-at-home opportunity to lure consumers into revealing financial account information. The result was months of unauthorized credit card charges, he said.

Google acknowledges that such schemes can be difficult to stamp out and asks users to exercise caution online, a decision that would make such schemes less profitable. The company believes that thousands of people have paid for these money-making kits.

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