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Why You Need to Stop Clicking Sponsored Google Links

6 Mar 2023 5:39 PM | Anonymous

From an article by Jake Peterson published in the LifeHacker web site:

Scammers are hijacking sponsored links in Google searches. Avoid them.

We all google, so we’re all used to Google’s quirks, sponsored links being one of the most visible. These links appear at the top of any given Google search, depending on who pays the most to be there. Even though these links can be largely irrelevant to what you’re actually searching for, sometimes they’re right on the money. However, even if it looks like a sponsored link applies to your search, don’t click it. It might be a scam.

The latest example of this nefarious misuse of Google Ads comes to us via Twitter. Author Cory Doctorow tweeted about his experience trying to place a takeout order with a local Thai spot. When Doctorow googled the name of the restaurant, Kiin Thai Eatery, he naturally clicked the first result that popped up, which happened to be a sponsored link.

Who cares, right? A link’s a link. That is, unless someone has hijacked the identity of the restaurant, which is exactly what happened in this case.

The link loaded to a website purporting to be Kiin Thai Eatery, inviting Doctorow to place an order. He did, and paid for his meal, only to receive a call from Kiin Thai Eatery shortly after. The restaurant informed Doctorow that they did receive an order—from a known scammer. The scammer had created a fake website mimicking Kiin Thai Eatery’s menu, upped the prices by 15%, and placed an order with the real restaurant in Doctorow’s name, hoping no one would notice.

Luckily, Kiin Thai Eatery did, and subsequently canceled the order. But Doctorow was still on the hook for the charges—plural, since the scammers also double-charged Doctorow for the fake order.

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