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Fake Google Salesmen Are Actually SEO Telemarketers ( 105

Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein writes: It seems like almost every day I get junk solicitation phone calls "from Google." They call about my Google business local listings, about my not being on the first page of Google search results, and so on -- and they want me to pay them to "fix" this stuff. When I look up the Caller ID numbers they use, I often finds pages of people claiming they're Google phone numbers. Sometimes the Caller ID display actually says Google!

Is Google really doing this? Negative. NONE of these calls are from Google. Zero. Zilch. Nada. These callers are inevitably "SEO"; (Search Engine Optimization) scammers of one sort or another. They make millions of "cold calls" to businesses using public phone listings (from the Web or other sources) or using phone number lists purchased from brokers. If you ever actually deal with them, you'll find that their services typically range from useless to dangerous.

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Fake Google Salesmen Are Actually SEO Telemarketers

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  • by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @01:39PM (#52743483)

    Google actually takes these guys on. I wrangled one of them into giving me a mailing address to pay by check and reported it to Google they were prompt in responding,got me in touch with their legal department and took as much info as I could give them. I saw on the news 2 months later that they filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against that exact company so it's clear they're always building cases against these guys.

  • I had fun with this (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Sunday August 21, 2016 @01:46PM (#52743515) Homepage Journal

    I answered one of those calls that was spoofing an area code where I still have lots of friends. When I realized what it was about, I started asking questions about how it worked, what they did, etc. The guy said they had arrangements with Google to promote pages and it was guaranteed.

    He asked what kind of business I have. "Oh, I work for Google. By the way, we both know this is bullshit, right?" "Oh, no no no sir! It is not bullshit! It is real!" "Well, thanks for all your company information. I'll give it to my boss this morning and you'll be out of work." "Oh, no no no! There is no need to be doing that!" You could hear his butt pucker from over the phone.

    I don't work for Google, but he didn't either so I don't feel bad.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      All people involved with marketing are scammers. It's really that simple.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      He might be reading this post. :P

  • by BringsApples ( 3418089 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @02:06PM (#52743571)

    If I don't recognize the number, I do not answer. If it's legit, they'll leave a message.

    The truth behind this started long ago, and only seems to be more and more applicable as the years go by.

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      What if you are expecting a callback from some company or another and your phone rings with an unknown number?

      • What part of his first paragraph was unclear?

        • by Calydor ( 739835 )

          It was unclear what he would do if he was expecting a call from a number he doesn't know in advance.

          • It was unclear what he would do if he was expecting a call from a number he doesn't know in advance.

            He won't answer, and they'll leave a message, because a call he's expecting is presumably legitimate. I'm not sure what's difficult about this.....

            • by Calydor ( 739835 )

              Alright, let me try to clarify.

              Not everyone will want to leave a message for whatever reason.

              Perhaps he's been applying for a job, but the HR drone has a list of 20 candidates to call back. You weren't at the phone? You go to the bottom of the list.

              Or perhaps like recently when I had a couch delivered. Delivery van calls ahead to check if anyone is home; they are unlikely to leave a message because why would they? When you hear it six hours later it's pointless!

              Sometimes you just have to pick up the phone w

              • Like the AC here noted, I haven't picked up a call that I didn't want to for about 25 years either. Most everyone is smart enough to email me, because that's what I tell my contacts, friends, and relatives. The few people who insist on a phone number generally get a fake one, unless there's a damn good reason for them to be calling me.

                Barber shop wants my phone number, mall stores want my phone number, online forms want my phone number, everyone wants that shit.

                The flip side is that since

    • Your "advice' is completely and utterly useless for businesses that are targeted, they must answer unknown calls because they want new business.

      • Your "advice' is completely and utterly useless for businesses that are targeted, they must answer unknown calls because they want new business.

        Yep. At my wife's business I've told her no matter who calls, if they want money for something (anything) then it's a scam. Period. Now she just hangs up and goes about her business.

        These scumbags are no different that the sleazy shits who call up and claim that you're late on your electric bill and threaten to turn off the power if you don't send them money via Western Union right away. (Or any of a hundred variations of this scam.)

    • by hwstar ( 35834 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @03:27PM (#52743867)

      If solicitors call you on the phone, DON'T DO BUSINESS WITH THEM. Tell that if you need a product or service, YOU will track it down yourself...

      Part of the problem here is that most people acts as enable for telemarketers and advertisers. We should teach young people in elementary through high school to ignore telemarketers and advertisers, and track down the product or service you need yourself. If more people did this, they'd get better products and services, plus it would help solve the problem with robocalls the government is trying to solve. Folks, if it is telemarketed or advertised, then the product or service is probably inferior to what you can find with a little effort on your own. Also, very few products or services marketed in this manner are indispensable.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Best not to interact with them at all. Any interaction gets you on a "live prospect" list, which they can sell to other scammers.
        --Don't answer if you don't recognize the caller. Your friends or business contacts will leave a message.
        --If you do answer, hang up the second you figure it out. Don't ask to be put on their do not call list, don't "press 9 to be removed," Anything proves to them that there is a live person at that number.
        --Get on the real true Do Not Call list:

  • Not Just SEO... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @02:23PM (#52743631)
    For the last 2 years or so I had been getting a relatively high string of calls to my home [unlisted, "Telephone Preference Blocked" {UK opt-in scheme to keep telemarketers out}] number, with all of them trying the "Windows Technical Support phone scam.

    Then some time in march I got a call from someone who claimed to be calling from my Telco/ISP [phone and internet service via the same provider] and who began by telling me they would prove their identity by quoting me the Customer Account Number that is only printed on the paper copy of my quarterly statement. Funny old thing, it was the *right* number.

    I went through a lengthy and convoluted process to get the Police to give me a crime number and then contacted a UK part of my telco [not trusting their India Call Centre] and to my surprise, [having got passed the bored tekkie] and having explained that the only explanation for this disclosure would have been if there were a criminal or criminals working within the Telco themselves, I suggested that they might want to check their records and determine who had access my client account information in the preceding 30 days...

    The calls stopped, dead. I mean, not one since then.

    The *only* explanation I can offer is that all the criminals calls I was receiving were actually being made by a rogue unit, working inside my telco and using my telco's own phone lines and equipment, to scam UK clients...

    Funny old thing, my telco is doing the best job ever of pretending this didn't happen - right down to "disappearing" the incident reference number they gave me when I first spoke to them. Fact is, however, the calls stopped.

    It would be entirely unfair - and misleading - to draw connections between the outsourcing of customer support services to third-world locations and then the rise in boiler-room scams from those locations. Having said that, I always wondered how these scammers were able to afford the international call charges. Even had they been using Skype with dial-out from a local PoP, it would have still cost them a lot of money to prosecute their attacks. But if they were embedded inside UK telephone operating companies, using the India-based call centres, then calling and scamming customers would be so very, very easy.

    It's getting to the point these days where almost anyone calling you is a crook or a scammer...
    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Lists get sold all the time.

      I'm in the UK too, on TPS the same as you.

      But lists get sold, stolen and passed on, and it's not just your email.

      I got an email from a company selling educational IT furniture (highly specific to my job). Except it went to my personal email. And when I looked it was sent to a unique email alias at my domain (I use unique emails for every website, company, etc. that I give email to - one of the beauties of owning a domain of your own).

      That email was ONLY given to RM (Research Ma

      • by ytene ( 4376651 )
        "Turns out the guy who set up the furniture company used to work for RM. Strange that. He just decided to take the company list with him, contact details and all, and use it to sell his wares from his own company. I reported him, nothing happened."

        And that's it, in a nutshell. Data theft like this is seen by the authorities as a not-crime. "Oh well, no harm, no foul. We're after the really big criminals, don't you know?"

        Except that it's the little crimes like this that fund the next generation of IT-b
      • What I don't get is how MASS exports happening without people noticing.

        A well configured Teleport Ultra installation can do that easily for browser-based listings. Some CRM implementations actually cache the list to your local PC. if anything, you can just download it and of course it would be logged, but would anyone look at that log? Most likely not.

    • It would be entirely unfair - and misleading - to draw connections between the outsourcing of customer support services to third-world locations and then the rise in boiler-room scams from those locations.

      I'm not entirely sure about that, but there's blame to go around. There have been plenty of investigations that have shown that companies occasionally provide these call centers with a shocking amount of personal information about their customers. These sorts of scam operations are probably more likely to occur from places outside of US jurisdiction, where they'll be a bit safer from prosecution, since richer US citizens are obviously a prime target. There have been other cases, though, where fraudulent

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I always wondered how these scammers were able to afford the international call charges.

      Companies that provide VoIP services allow you to choose any US area code. You can then setup a VoIP connection from anywhere in the world and make it look like you're calling from the US.

      No international calling charges required.

      That's actually convenient for travelers and business people who travel all over the world. Anywhere they can get an internet connection, they can use VoIP to make it look like they're calling

    • Did you call them and ask what they did to fix it? Call their legal department, congratulate them on fixing the problem, and ask how they did it. You just want to close this out with the police...

  • Answer the phone with "Hello," and as soon as it's clear it's a telemarketer, say "You're on the air!" Respond to anything they ask with "You Are Live! On the Air!" There's usually a long pause while they search in vain for a relevant branch in their conversation tree, then they hang up.
    • by krelvin ( 771644 )

      99% of them are robo calls... nobody on the other end. I just hang up, and block the number.

      • 99% of them are robo calls... nobody on the other end. I just hang up, and block the number.

        Yes, since they've gone to robocalls there's no longer a human on the other end to harass and toy with. Very disappointing, but oh well.

    • by johnw ( 3725 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @04:45PM (#52744145)

      When a call says "Internat" in the caller ID, I answer in French and refuse to speak anything other than French. (The only people I know who are abroad and phone me by conventional means are French - all those living further afield use Skype.)

      It's quite fun. My French isn't that good, but it's better than that of the average scammer.

  • Gosh really (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @02:41PM (#52743701) Homepage

    Up next,

    That guy from "Microsoft" that offers to fix your PC if you just download this program is fake too.

    So are the guys trying to sell you that product for your embarrassing sexual ailment by email.

    So are the websites that just need you to enter your credit "to verify your age".

    Seriously, Slashdot, the mediocre-to-shit ratio (used to be signal-to-noise) has fucking plummeted around here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, and it's from "Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein" aka Lauren the Google Shill. It might be news, but being on his (used to be good, been utter crap for years now) mailing list, I know he runs these pro-Google posts regularly He used to consult for Google, which he is upfront about. But he's also moved a large part of his mailing list archive to Google which they host (unfortunately, given Google's crap interface). He also seems, at least for a long long time, to use only Google products (

  • You don't say..... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @03:23PM (#52743861)

    "Fake Google Salesmen Are Actually SEO Telemarketers"

    Allow me to be the first to say, "Duh".

    I used to get these calls quite a bit. Then I started wasting their time and making their lives a living hell. I would quiz them on stuff, take forever to make up my mind, then change my mind, make them repeat themselves over and over again, and generally ruin their mood for the rest of the day. They'd be cursing by the time they hung up on me. :)

    Eventually they stopped calling, lol. I almost miss them, it was kind of fun to creatively torture them and waste their time.

  • by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Sunday August 21, 2016 @04:24PM (#52744061) Homepage
    When the "IRS" kept calling, using a mobile phone number from a local area, I decided to have fun with it. I put them on my autodial for my fax machine. The number came back to a boiler room operation. After the third ring it forwarded and the ring tone changed slightly. Lotsa background noise. The operation had about six people. I know because the fax ran about four hours....and most of the folks clearly don't know what a fax machine identification tone ( booop boooop ) is ...... probably called them 30x and listened to each one hang on, yellling "this is IRS inspector Dildo ! Identify yourself." I hope I caused enough problems to save at least one dupe. More fun and less work than keeping microsoft on the phone as my 85 year old grandfather and letting slip only 10 min in that I have an Apple computer.
  • I get at least ONE of those calls, a day, running the largest hotel for 40 miles around. I usually go, "Oh, I gave the girl/guy [switch it up, keep life interesting...wait, not like THAT] my credit card number and SS#. You should have it on file. (click)" My BOSS gets 4-5 cold calls a day, though not typically from the (ahem) Google people. I just tell them he was recently killed in a car accident, you'll have to call back in a few months, once they get the estate sorted out. It was really bad, beheaded. T
  • News for Senior Citizens. Stuff that Matters to AARP...

    Seriously, do any tech guys not know this? Oh also, did you know Google didn't make the iPhone?
  • There is asymmetry in the understanding of technology between many small businesses and its customers. Every business looking for customers should have a Google business listing and the SEO scammers are screwing it up. Any business can get the Google listing (the box with a map, pictures, hours, web site, etc) free by themselves, but many don't have the time or knowledge to do it. Google authorizes a group of trusted business verifiers to help and many are volunteers. When going into a small business to
  • Me: Oh, good, I've got about 20 windows in my house that need washing inside and out. How soon can you be here?
    Keep repeating as long as necessary. It's good to keep them on the line so their signal-to-noise ratio drops.

    Then there is the IRS scammer. A Sheriff's deputy friend of mine said, "You're going to send me to prison? Really? Free room and board sounds great! Which prison you gonna send me to?"

  • My girlfriend is a realtor, so they called her to sell her ad space on Google. As she was sitting next to me, I pulled up Google's advertising policy. It already seemed suspicious that Google would be cold calling people to sell ads, what with being so huge that advertisers should be coming to them, not the other way around. So the people on the phone admitted they were not google, and were reselling ad space. But the promises they were making directly contradicted details of Google's policy, and when I
  • They actually call me, a lot. I'm in the SEO industry myself and these guys call my phone or at least auto-call my phone regularly. It's a numbers game and Google has filed suit on at least one of the companies doing this in the last year or so. These companies are preying on small mom and pop type companies that may have a website issue and not know anyone that can help them. It's annoying and frankly it's hard to believe that these methods are still profitable even at scale. If more would become aware the
  • The reason that these scams are so successful is that there is real need for professional SEO services. But there's simply no way to separate the wheat from the chaffe. (Or is it that there is no wheat? I can't always tell). My family's small business is a perfect example. We sell beads and jewelry. Nobody actively working at the store is a techie (although they do things with pliers and tweezers that would make your head spin). We know that our website is barely serviceable from an SEO standpoint an

  • I've been getting these for some years, I've also had them claim to work for Yahoo & Bing.

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