BBB has received more than 1,500 complaints nationally about dozens of Web sites that are trading on the Google name to scam people who want to learn about making money from home. Because the sites use the Google name and prominently display its iconic logo, consumers often assume they are getting a job with Google when, in fact, they are being conned by yet another work-at-home scheme.
“Many families are looking for ways to earn extra money for the holidays and a Web site touting the huge money-making potential of working from home can seem like an answer to a prayer,” said Dwight Kealoha, chief executive officer of Hawaii’s BBB. “Unfortunately, most work-at-home opportunities don’t deliver on what they promise and victims find that instead of making a few extra dollars, they lose hundreds.”
Two Web sites, Google Treasure Chest and Google Money Tree, quickly racked up 523 and 782 BBB complaints, respectively, before being called out by the Federal Trade Commission and state Attorneys General for misleading consumers—including at least one from Hawaii. Although some of the Web sites have been taken down, BBB continues to receive complaints about many other work-at-home schemes using similar tactics, including Google Biz Kit, Google Cash, Google Money Profits and Google Success Kit. The scams go by many different names and are found on many different Web sites, but the complaints to BBB tell a similar story.
One Georgia complainant’s bank account was debited $433 by various “affiliate” entities, including Grant Finder, Web Training, Powersale, Safelock, Google Chest, Search Chest, A1Member and Auction Support.
Locally, a Laie resident who purchased a $1.95 CD that supposedly contained software to help earn money at home, reported to BBB that it would not play. A few days after receiving the CD, Google Treasure Chest charged almost $100 in unauthorized payments to victim’s credit card. (See update below.)
Before signing up for any work-at-home opportunity, BBB advises job hunters to:
- Check the business’s BBB Reliability Report® for complaints or other business practice concerns.
- Be wary of work-at-home offers that use logos from Google, Twitter or other prominent online businesses. Just because Google is in the name, it doesn’t mean the business is affiliated with Google.
- Question any offer that guarantees a lot of money for little effort and no experience.
- Research the Web site with Whois.net or a similar site that verifies domain name ownership. Beware of sites registered by an individual or anonymously.
- Thoroughly read the Web site’s terms and conditions, keeping in mind that a low-cost item or free trial could cost you in the end.
For more advice on evaluating work-at-home companies and avoiding online scams, visit hawaii.bbb.org.
Update: The Laie scam victim contacted Hawaii's BBB and reported the losses were recouped after disputing the unauthorized charges from their account.