Have you ever heard of the legendary game Phoenix Wright? It’s basically about a lawyer who can solve any case. We brought it up because Google, after recently winning a court case against a Russian-based bot network, is putting on the shoes of Phoenix Wright himself and taking the fight directly to a group of scammers who have been seeking to ensnare business owners on puppet strings by calling them and attempting to charge them to access Google My Business.
“Today we are filing a lawsuit against scammers who sought to defraud hundreds of small businesses by impersonating Google through telemarketing calls. They also created websites advertising the purchase of fake reviews, both positive and negative, to manipulate reviews of Business Profiles on Google Search and Maps.”
Here’s the group’s MO according to Google: these fraudsters supposedly call up owners to charge them for their Google My Business Profiles, which, by the way, you can access for totally free.
In 2021 alone, Google says that it detected and stopped more than 12 million attempts by bad actors to create fake Business Profiles, and nearly 8 million attempts to claim Business Profiles that didn’t belong to them. Wow, the persistence of these people is what’s truly impressive. Imagine getting blocked 12 million times and still trying.
Google aims to establish a new legal precedent with this new push, ascertaining that it could better allow them to combat this type of fraud in the future. It’s an all-too-important but often overlooked push, particularly on the behalf of less web-savvy business owners who know that they should make Google and SEO a focus, but are not aware of the fact that such tools are already available and accessible for free.
It’s good to see big tech companies like Google and Meta make a bigger push against scams like these, which also helps refresh the legal process for fighting against new types of online deception. Recall that LinkedIn also won its court case against data scraping. Meanwhile, Meta also launched a barrage of legal offensives against forms of phishing, fake reviews, data scraping, and more. The major issue is that most of these don’t have direct legal precedents, and it doesn’t help that current laws don’t cover these newer elements, with new ones coming on as time goes by. For example, are AI generators really in the wrong for doing what they’ve been intended to do by design?
The online space is great, that’s been a long-observed fact. However, it’s also largely unregulated, simply because no one body can effectively police the entirety of the internet. Localized regulations, by virtue of each platform, are good, but they need to continue evolving, much like the minds and processes of those who seek to undermine them. For obvious reasons, bigger, well-resourced companies are in a better position to champion legal advancements such as this.