Google, Bing, Yahoo embroiled in ad scam

Swindlers are placing fake ads claiming to help prevent home foreclosure in the US

Tags: Cyber crimeFraudGoogle IncorporatedMicrosoft CorporationUSAYahoo! Incorporated
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Google, Bing, Yahoo embroiled in ad scam Internet scammers claiming to aid US homeowners, trying to save their properties from foreclosure, have been placing fraudulent ads on all three major search engines; Google, Bing and Yahoo. (Getty Images)
By  Georgina Enzer Published  November 22, 2011

The world's three largest search engines Bing, Yahoo and Google are being used by mortgage swindlers to defraud US homeowners trying to avoid repossession of their homes, according to the Press Association.

A criminal investigation, currently underway, has expanded beyond just deceptive advertising on Google's internet search engine to include con artists who are luring their victims on Bing and Yahoo too.

Online ads, which made promises to help people keep their homes under a US government-backed programme to modify mortgage payments, are placed in the search engines.

The scam ads on all three sites were triggered by searches such as ‘stop foreclosure', according to the Press Association.

The swindlers take payment from their victims upfront or arrange to have the mortgage payments sent to them without providing any assistance.

The internet crackdown closed 125 mortgage scams by Monday, up from 85 last week, when the Office of the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief announced it was cleaning up the misconduct on Google.

According to the US Treasury Department division, many of the con artists bought ads on all three search engines.

Both Google and Microsoft's Bing search engine have agreed to stop accepting adverts from hundreds of internet advertisers and agencies tied to the scams. The ban also applies to Yahoo, because it depends on Microsoft to sell its search advertising as part of a revenue-sharing partnership.

"Microsoft is committed to preventing fraud within its advertising network and online community and is working closely with the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Programme to help tackle the problem of fraudulent mortgage-modification advertising," the software maker told the Press Association.

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