Google influences many of our buying decisions each day, having an estimated 85-90% of the search engine market share worldwide. Fraudsters find the online advertising world attractive because it involves massive sums of money. Besides, the transactions are impersonal with a complex and opaque supply chain mechanism that add to the anonymity factor. A mighty challenge associated with online ad frauds is that no one knows the magnitude of the scam unless it hits them. Google Ads Impersonation Scams that start with a simple phishing email have become one of the biggest challenges for organizations, advertisers, and publishers.
Ads Impersonation Scam Statistics You Need to Pay Attention to
Digital advertising frauds are on an exponential rise, as highlighted by the following points.
- The global digital advertising fraud costs could jump from $35 billion in 2018 to more than $100 billion by 2023.
- The US alone accounts for nearly $13.8 billion in 2020.
- Close to 20% of ad impressions served programmatically in the US are fraudulent.
- Nearly 25% of global marketers are highly concerned with the issue, with almost 49% displaying apprehensiveness.
- Google Ads Impersonation Scams are on the rise globally.
(Source – Statista)
What is Google Ad Impersonation Scam?
The Google Ad Impersonation Scam originates through an innocuous phone or email message from someone claiming to represent Google Ads. They inform that Google Ads has changed their billing bank accounts, and the phishing email contains details that businesses need to note down for compliance. Interestingly, these emails contain a logo similar to Google Ads to make the message seem genuine. The severity of the scheme can be gauged from this fraud in which scammers posed as the insurance and investments giant Aviva and duped a victim into investing about $200,000 into fake bonds.
Different Types of Google Ads Impersonation Scams
We have seen one type of Google Ad Impersonation scam above where the fraudster sends a phishing email asking the target to modify the billing information. Usually, such emails come with a link that users can click to access Google Ads settings and change the banking information. Clicking on such links without thinking is a sure recipe for disaster. Here are some other examples of Google Ads Impersonation Scams.
Google Job Offer Scam
This Google Job Offer scam also originates through an email stating that the recipient has been selected for a job with Google or any other organization. It further asks the user to pay a training fee and complete an employment form providing personal details of the candidate. At times, the fraudster also insists on interviewing on Google Hangouts.
Google AdSense Scam
The Google AdSense Scam has someone claiming to work for Google calling or sending an email informing that your Google AdSense account balance is refundable. It directs the target to pay a security deposit to release the funds and provides an address where the user can remit the sum.
Google Top Placement Scam
The Google Top Placement Scam is similar to the Google Job Offer Scam that promises the target a top placement in Google or other similar organizations.
Google Maps/SEO Fake Invoices Scam
The Google Maps Scam invites the target to pay a specific sum of money for inclusion in Google Maps. The recipient receives this message through a phone call or a phishing email.
Google Telemarketing Calls
You can sometimes receive phone calls from parties claiming to have a special relationship with Google offering to help leverage your brand with Google. They also ask you to submit specific details that could help update your front page listing on Google. Unfortunately, these Google telemarketing calls can be dangerous as you can end up supplying confidential information about your business.
Why Should Organizations Be Careful of Such Online Scams?
Online frauds like Google Ads Impersonation Scams can have adverse impacts on your business. Here is why you need to be careful of such scams.
- Loss of business and confidential customer data: Clicking on the spurious links provided in these phishing emails can result in the organization losing personal customer data.
- Regulatory penalties: Regulations like GDPR can cause organizations to cough up massive fines if they compromise with confidential customer information.
- Loss of business reputation: Compromising customer and business data can cause customers to lose trust, leading to loss of business reputation.
- Financial loss: As you share your banking and other financial information, you end up compromising your finances as it enables these malicious actors to access your banking funds.
How to Identify Google Ads Impersonation Scams
Google is a trusted brand name that does not seek any such confidential information from its users.
Hence, people should be careful when they encounter such scam messages. However, these fraudulent emails have some telltale signs.
- Google never sends emails to its users asking them to submit confidential information or seek funds in any manner.
- Google does not place robocalls asking to update the front page listing or claim your free bonus, etc.
- Generally, these scams are designed to create a feeling of urgency. Therefore, if you encounter any email asking you to send or modify details urgently, it is more likely to be a scam.
- If you need to change banking details, log into your account and access the Transactions page to download the invoices. It will list the payment options available to you along with the Google banking details.
- Such phishing emails usually come with spelling errors. Hence, it is better to read these messages carefully.
How to Avoid Falling Prey to Such Frauds?
Internet scams keep occurring with amazing regularity. These fraudsters spread their net wide to target as many unsuspecting people as possible. Hence, businesses and individuals should take the following steps to avoid falling prey to Google Ads Impersonation Scams.
- Anti-malware solutions – Every business should install anti-phishing and anti-ransomware solutions to prevent becoming victims of such scams. These solutions can stop phishing emails from populating the inbox to a significant extent.
- Self-education and awareness – Organizations should educate their employees and vendors on aspects like email phishing protection and ways to stop phishing emails.
This article discussed how an array of untrustworthy and outright Google Ad Scams spans different sectors, with many posing as financial firms and legitimate organizations to trick victims out of personal details or money. Self-awareness and installing the best phishing protection solutions are potent weapons to deal with malicious attempts to steal confidential information.