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Alert – Google Cash Scam

Published: August 19, 2009

Author: David Rodnitzky

Move over flogs, now there’s something meatier! Introducing, um, fnews – fake news! I got a full-screen pop up today from the “Los Angeles Tribunes” with the headline “Breaking: Google is Hiring at Home Workers. Pay $373 Dollars a Day (or more).”

Surely the Los Angeles Tribunes wouldn’t lie about such great news, would they? What’s more, ABC News has also somehow participated in this story, as evidenced by the prominent ABC News logo at the top of the page.
The ‘article’, is, of course filled with factual errors about Google and outright fabrications. For example, the article quotes from “CEO Larry Page” but shows a picture of actual CEO Eric Schmidt. And it includes a ridiculously fake quote from Larry Page:

We know that times are hard right now and hiring this pool of online workers will not only allow thousands of Americans to earn a healthy salary from home, it will help Google do our job more thoroughly. . . The key is knowing that our home workers are not required to have extensive computer or internet knowledge, if you can send and receive email, you can take part in this exciting new opportunity.”

In fact, Google’s hiring process is strict to the point of ridiculous. Even if you have ten years of experience in your field and graduated from college in the last millennium, Google still asks for – and actually considers – where you went to college and your college GPA. If you didn’t graduate with honors from Stanford, Berkeley, an Ivy, or maybe Duke, don’t bother applying to Google. Is Google making an exception because “times are hard right now?” Um, not.
The payment amounts that you can make with the program are all over the map. There’s an ad at the top of the page that says you can $173/hr, which works out to around $1000 a day, but the headline claims “$373 a day (or more). A few lines later, the article suggests a range of “$30,000 to $75,000 a year”, which is between $82 and $205 a day, or between $10 and $25/hr. And then on the sign-up page, the offer claims “up to $349 a day”, which would be around $30/hr. Of course, $10/hr would be great with this program. Instead, it will end up costing you $1000/yr to participate, as we’ll see below.
The name of the program that ‘Google’ is offering is called “AdWork“, a clever play on AdWords, the actual Google program. And it turns out that Google is not alone in offering this great opportunity, as there is a link at the bottom of the page that proclaims “Ebay to Join Google in Make Money From Home Program.” As noted on this blog numerous times, eBay and Google aren’t good friends and they aren’t about to band together with a joint program for the good of America.
Some other interesting things about this fake news article and fake program: the “comments” section is of course, fake. So much so that if you look at the source code, you can see that these are simply hard-coded into the page:

<div class=“ptcMessageDiv”>Nice strategy Google. First you make the best search engine then you find a way to actually use it for the good. I am doing this program and already beat my last job’s pay. I never thought I’d say this, but THANK GOD I GOT FIRED!!!!!!!<br><span class=“ptcPostedByCaption”><span>Little Dog Toto<!–span><!–span>&nbsp;<span class=“ptcPostedByDateTime”>Aug-13 <!–span><!–div>

And it also appears that whoever created this scam page ripped off the format directly from an ABC News page, and that they didn’t even have time to remove some of the ABC tagging. ABC’s Omniture and (ironically) Google Analytics tracking are still in the code! Here’s some Omniture code from a cash for clunkers story (s_omni.pageName = “abcn:s1_business:8318714:ford raises output as “clunker” sales surge:wirestory“; //content name).
In case you are wondering how this scam works, when you click on any link on the “news” page you end up at a typical lead capture form. If you click on the small print, you get the following notice:

By submitting an order, You automatically receive a 7-day trial to the Start Up Kit Using Google. Your 7-day trial begins immediately upon placing your order. You will be billed $2.95 at the time of order submission. Once Your trial is active you have 7-days to decide whether to accept Your Subscription. Prior to the expiration of the 7-day trial period, You may cancel Your subscription by calling toll-free at 1-800-497-4988. Should You fail to cancel Your Subscription within the 7-day trial You will be billed $79.90 at the completion of the 7-day trial and every month thereafter for continued services and hosting of your Visual Webtools software unless canceled by You.

Note that your trial beings “immediately upon placing your order.” So if it takes a week for your kit to arrive and you don’t like it, too late, you’re trial is over – let the $79.90 a month charges commence!

So let’s summarize this offer, here are the basics:

  1. It starts with the fake Los Angeles Tribunes, and adds in an ABC News logo
  2. It steals the code directly from ABC News;
  3. It claims that Larry Page is the CEO of Google and wants to hire uneducated at-home workers;
  4. It promises anywhere from $10 to $173/hr in income;
  5. It sends you to a site that will start billing you $80/month in perpetuity a week after you enter your credit card.

P.T. Barnum, eat your heart out!

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