Hugh Pickens writes writes "PC Magazine reports that the US government used convicted con artist David Whitaker, owner of an online business selling steroids and human growth hormone to US consumers, to help federal agents in a sting operation against Google when he began advertising with Google with advertisements that included the statement "no prescription needed" clearly violating US laws. Google's settlement with the US government for $500 million blamed AdWords sales by Canadian pharmacies, who allegedly were selling drugs to U.S. consumers. "We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies some time ago," Google said then. "However, it's obvious with hindsight that we shouldn't have allowed these ads on Google in the first place." Peter Neronha, the US attorney for Rhode Island who led the multiagency federal task force that conducted the sting, claims that chief executive Larry Page had personal knowledge of the operation, as did Sheryl Sandberg, a Google executive who now is the chief operating officer for Facebook. In 2009 Google started requiring online pharmacy advertisers to be certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Sites program and hired an outside company to detect pharmacy advertisers exploiting flaws in the Google's screening systems."