Tag Archives: Google

This is why I don’t use ad-blocking plugins: so I can point out stuff like this

Today I checked out the weather forecast at Weather.com, mostly to confirm my suspicions that yes, this winter is going to be eternal and that it’s never going to rise above four degrees for the rest of my life.

(Okay, the actual forecast wasn’t that bad, and it’s actually going to get a little warmer very soon, but still.)

I noticed this banner ad in the right-side column where Weather.com usually puts them (among other locations):

2014-02-12-junkware

Looks important, don’it? Like your security software is telling you something is wrong, right?

Yeah, well, it’s not. It’s an advertisement. Good thing the ONLY indication is the little Google AdWords logo in the upper right corner, eh?

Now, I don’t know exactly what this advertisement leads to, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re using deception to trick people into clicking on it. That makes me think of ransomware, because it’s almost the exact technique used by makers of that type of malicious software. Click on it and you may find your computer locked down until you pay $80 or more to some crook.

I wish I could issue “just never click on anything” as a general rule, but it’s sort of hard to use the Internet without clicking on something now and then. I would suggest this, though: if you see an ad like this on a major website, click on that little triangle AdWords logo (click carefully…you don’t want to click on the ad itself!) and use the submission form to tell Google about it. Google’s AdWords system is great because it allows access to online advertising for businesses of all sizes, but that wide-openness also means a lot of scammers get their greasy little banner ads through. It’s like those “work at home” scans in the old print newspapers, only a couple hundred million times larger in scope.

Insane promises and the old envelope stuffing scam

One of the first rules in avoiding employment scams is to ignore every advertisement that makes insane promises when it comes to income, and nothing fits that description like the old Envelope Stuffing Scam.

I did a search on this topic on Google. The very first result was an advertisement for one of these very schemes. Here’s a screenshot:

getstuffed1

Why does anyone even bother going to college when they could be putting paper into envelopes? And it even says, “No catch. No scheme.” I mean, if they say they’re not a scam, they must not be, right? I mean, you can believe everything you read on the Internet, right?

The $5,000 is an insane enough claim, but look at the text of the ad. $10 per envelope? That’s an awful lot of money for not much work.

Look at it this way:

Time it takes to put something into an envelope: 10 seconds.
What they claim to pay you: $10/envelope.
What you’d be earning per minute: $60.
What you’d be earning per hour: $3,600.
What you’d be earning per week (40 hours): $144,000.
What you’d be earning per year: $7,488,000.
Jonathan Toews’ 2010-2011 salary: $6,500,000.

You’re making more than an NHL star, just by stuffing envelopes, plus you don’t have to get the spit repeatedly knocked out of you by large, fast men on ice skates. What’s not to love?

This is about all the proof you need that this is a scam. So what’s really going on here?

Apparently, if you try to get into the envelope stuffing business, you won’t end up stuffing a thing (except perhaps your pride). You pay the company up front (always a bad sign) to send you a “kit” (a word that almost never leads to good things when it comes to job offers). With this kit, you’re supposed to rope other people into the envelope stuffing business. It sounds an awful lot like a pyramid scheme to me.

Never just jump into a job offer without checking it out first. Aside from paying money for a job that turns out to be a sham, these shady companies aren’t above selling your personal information to other entities.

Google files federal lawsuit against company for work-at-home scams.

You know those work-at-home scams that use Google’s name and logo?

It looks like Google is finally going after one of them. A federal lawsuit has been filed against a company called Pacific WebWorks, based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The suit alleges that Pacific WebWorks has been using Google’s name and logo, without authorization, to sell a “work-at-home” scheme. Victims of this scam are charged repeated fees while receiving nearly nothing (or literally nothing) of value in return. Google is also demanding the company reveal an accounting of its profits.

The Better Business Bureau’s report (“F,” in case you didn’t already guess) for the company lists the following as websites operated by Pacific WebWorks:

www.pacificwebworks.com
www.profitcenterlearning.com
www.googlefastcash.com
www.gogglefastcash.com
www.homebizkit4u.com
www.moneyy.org
www.googlebizkit.com
www.profitstudiolearning.com
www.yourprofitgateway.com
www.esuccess2u.com
www.eauctionsuccess.com
www.yourwebsiterev.com

Do NOT visit any of the above sites!

But, take a moment to study the web addresses. You see words like “success” and “profit” and “cash” an awful lot in there. They even use a misspelling of “Google” (“gogglefastcash”). Why would a legitimate business need so many different websites, including some that use another company’s name?

Anybody else think this won’t just stop at a corporate suit? I see criminal charges looming for Pacific WebWorks. That’s good—it’s a criminal organization that needs to be shut down. I don’t mind jumping the legal gun and passing judgment here; this company has been running a scam, pure and simple.

“I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,” said cunning old Fury:
“I’ll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.”

—Lewis Carroll
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Online Scams Epilogue: How to actually make money on the Internet

So, how do you make money on the Internet?

Perhaps I’ve given the impression that it can’t be done, but that’s not true. However, the answer may not be what you want to hear.

Basically, you have to have something or create something that other people want, and figure out how to deliver it over the Internet.

The easiest way is the most obvious: sell things on eBay. If you have a supply of antiques, collectables or anything else lots of people desire, create an eBay account and go for it. It’s probably not going to be a full-time career or bring you millions of dollars (unless you’re extremely shrewd), but it can be a source of income that doesn’t involve a ton of work on your part.

Other than that, you pretty much have to create something. If you make things by hand, there’s a site called Etsy that allows you to put up a “store” for your wares. Again, it’s probably not going to be a career, but it’s a way to leverage a hobby into extra income.

The blogging world has some success stories. A lot of sites (I Can Has Cheezburger? comes to mind) that have become cultural icons are essentially using a fairly standard blog format. They mostly generate income through advertising revenue (and some of them get book deals later on).

It’s tough to do, but it can be done. Remember; Google, Yahoo!, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter were all created by small groups of people with ideas for sites people might like.

So that’s how you make money on the Internet: create content that people want, or sell a service or product. Perhaps there was a time when putting up a page with nothing but paid links to other sites would have worked, but those days are long gone. The Internet just isn’t “neat” enough anymore, in and of itself, for that sort of thing to work. You’ve got to create your own business on the Internet. It’s not easy, and you might fail over and over, but I hear it’s a pretty sweet life when it works.

Online Scams Vol. 2: A few more words about Google scams

Do a Google search on something. “Fender Telecaster,” whatever. We’ll go with that, since it’s a topic I’m interested in.

Hey, this is a blog, not a democracy.

Now look at the results page that appears. The two-thirds of the screen on your left contains your regular search results. The right third of the screen, however, is a list of paid advertisements. See how it says “Sponsored Links” at the top? That means those are not “pure” search results. Those are Google AdWords listings. Every result in this list is there because somebody paid to have it there.

Now look closely at your “regular” results. For most searches, you’ll see it once again again—”Sponsored Links.” There is a very pale yellow background behind the first couple results. Once again, the owners of those sites paid money for their businesses to appear there. The first “real” search result (if you use our “Fender Telecaster” example) is a page hosted at Fender.com, which makes sense.

My goal here is first to point out how there is just a massive amount of advertising on the Internet, even when performing a simple Google search.

Secondly, my goal is to point out that these advertisements are not from Google. No matter what those “Sponsored Links” say, they are not affiliated with Google (unless you search “Google” or “AdSense” or “AdWords,” which are legitimate).

Search “make money with Google” and a whole bunch of sponsored links come up on your right…and they’re all scams, as far as I can tell. “$100,000/month Guaranteed” my foot. That one even says it up front: you have to pay them to sign up, which is one of the easiest ways to detect a scam.

(By the way, do NOT click any of these links if you’re actually doing these searches along with me. This is your one warning. I am not responsible if you ignore it.)

Supposedly, Google is cracking down on these scams, or at least trying to stop them from appearing on their own advertising setup. However, as of today, these scams are still rampant, and they’re still using Google AdWords to lure people in.

If you are interesting in using AdWords to advertise your business, or using AdSense to make money from your blog or other website, make sure you’re at the actual sites hosted by Google. The links I provided above are the real ones. By the way, anyone telling you that you have to pay them to sign up for AdSense is scamming you, too. It doesn’t cost you anything to participate in that program.

Here’s a short list of Google scams I have heard of so far. Do not trust any of these, or anything that sounds even a little bit like them:

  • Google Works
  • Google Kit
  • Google Money System
  • Google Cash
  • Google Cash Kit
  • Make Money Posting Links on Google
  • Easy Google Profit
  • Google Treasure Chest
  • Scott’s Money Blog
  • Josh Made Cash
  • Earn Cash Fast With Google
  • Joan’s Money Making Story

This list probably doesn’t even scratch the surface. Those last four are fake blog sites that are supposed to make you think they’re written by somebody “just like yourself.” They even have an embedded program that figures out where your location is, and makes it sound like the blog’s “author” is from nearby.

So, keep your head about you when you’re running a Google search. Those Sponsored Links aren’t your most trustworthy source of information. And just don’t fall for anything that promises huge amounts of money involving Google.

Heck, even with AdSense, unless your blog is getting thousands of hits per day, you’re probably not going to make more than a few dollars. I’m not saying don’t do it. After all, passive income is the best income, don’t you think?

Online Scams Vol. 1: Words that mean it’s probably a scam.

In the late 1990s, the Internet really captured the collective imagination as a way to make a ton of money. There was the classic depiction of a “Dot-Com Startup,” a company made up entirely of hip, cynical recent college grads (or even precocious dropouts) who made instant millions by apparently wearing cargo shorts to work and spending the entire day playing foosball in open-design offices with weird artwork all over the place.

I’m still not sure how their business model worked (and ultimately, it didn’t), but that was the popular image. The ones who were smart enough to sell before anyone noticed they were just playing hackey-sack all day made a lot of cash.

You’ve also got stories like Google and Facebook and Twitter—sites that were started by small groups of people, that became massive online juggernauts.

Yep. The Internet has definitely made quite a few millionaires. We all know it, and that’s why so many people are getting ripped off: online moneymaking schemes.

First off, the people who have truly made lasting fortunes on the Internet did so by offering something unique that lots of people wanted. They created something. They didn’t go to a website and sign up for an “affiliate program” that required them to give their credit card numbers.

That’s why I’m doing a little series this week on the world of online scams. Today’s topic: words that are a pretty good sign you’re looking at a scam.

If the URL (address line) of the site, or if the name of the site have any of the following words in it, you are very likely going to lose money very quickly if you hand over your credit card information:

  • fun
  • free
  • profit
  • money
  • million
  • cash
  • fast
  • rich
  • wealth
  • internet
  • online
  • web
  • immediate
  • instant

Just…don’t trust these sites. I don’t care what they’re called. FunInternetProfits, InstantOnlineMillions, FastInternetCash, whatever. I’m just making those names up, but I can almost guarantee they’re real sites (do NOT visit them, though. You’ve been warned).

For one thing, what website has the word “Internet” or “online” in its name anymore? Do you really need to specify that in 2009?

For another, why is it that “fast cash, no work!” sounds like a complete rip off when it’s an ad in the back of Rolling Stone, but when it’s on a website, people fall for it? Anyone can put up a website, folks. Terrorist groups that operate in complete secrecy have websites. There is no vetting process for having a website.

There is also a special case: scams that try to latch onto Google. There’s one called Google Works that I know of specifically. They start by charging you $1.97 for…well, they don’t really tell you. Then they take $69.97 from you every month. See, they’re taking money from you. That’s the opposite of profit.

There are many more of these Google scams. Google Cash is one I’ve heard of, but I’m sure Google Profit, Google Millions and Google Wealth are out there somewhere. They’re all scams. Don’t even try.

Now, Google does run an affiliate program called AdSense that’s legitimate. A lot of bloggers use this on their sites. It generates little ads that are probably related to the content of your blog. In this case, you’re hoping visitors to your site will click on these ads, which will generate a few cents for you. However, unless you’re running a site that gets a few hundred thousand visits per month or more, you’re not going to make a whole lot from it.

The other problem with AdSense is that sometimes ads for scams using Google’s name show up. That means ads for Google Works and other scams are using Google’s legit advertising affiliate program to lure people. I think Google needs to pay more attention to the people they allow to advertise through their program, don’t you?

Also an exception: there is a site called Get Rich Slowly, a blog that provides excellent financial advice from a guy who’s gone from a heavy debt burden to debt free over the course of a few years. He’s not selling anything (unless he has a book out that I don’t know about), and he’s not offering a way for you to make money. You go to the site to read articles and learn. Make sure you’re at getrichslowly.ORG, not COM. The COM is somebody trying to sell website addresses (a very 1995-style business venture). Avoid.