Defendant firm had falsely represented that it was acting on behalf of Google.
Small business owners routinely receive misleading or fraudulent calls about Google My Business and SEO from individuals and entities preying on their lack of digital marketing sophistication. Google has made periodic efforts to crack down on this type of activity. But last May Google filed lawsuits against several firms that were scamming SMBs.
Penalties for the company and the individual executives. The firm agreed to a consent judgment that, among other things, provides that the company and its executives will not be able to engage in future commercial activity “relating to any Google offering.” They’ll pay $750,000 and the individual executives will pay an additional $100,000 (Google intends to donate the money).
The company will be dissolved but is also required to notify all customers who were scammed, apologize and tell them it’s not affiliated with Google. Finally, the executives will be required to certify that they’re complying with the judgment for three years.
Why you should care. Google is trying to send a strong message to other predatory and deceptive SMB marketing firms: we’ll come after you too. While Google has not gone after all these firms with equal ferocity, this outcome may sufficiently cause other bottom feeders to think twice before trying exploit or mislead local business owners.