Google is taking legal action against local business scammers

Key Points
  • Google is trying to stop scammers that target small business owners.
  • It's taking legal action against three companies and rolling out new tools for business owners.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks on stage during the annual Google I/O developers conference in Mountain View, California, May 8, 2018.
Stephen Lam | Reuters

Google is taking legal action against scammers that target small business owners.

The company said in a blog post on Wednesday that it's going after three companies including PointBreak Media, which the Federal Trade Commission accused last week of fraudulently threatening to remove businesses from Google search results and charging them for free services.

The other companies Google named are Kydia (which does business as BeyondMenu) and Supreme Marketing Group (known as Small Business Solutions).

"We hope this sends the message to other scammers out there that we will not hesitate to take legal action against them," Google said, without specifying what kind of legal action it is taking.

Representatives from these companies carry out their scams by calling local businesses and claiming to be from Google. They then convince the businesses on the other line to pay them for services that are related to Google's free business listings.

Beyond the legal route, Google is also rolling out new tools to help it identify and take action against accounts tied to scams and to educate business owners on how to identify bad actors.

This issue is related to another problem that Google is having with Maps, which critics say is being plagued by fraudulent listings and fake reviews.

A Google representative said that the company's new tools only apply to scams involving accounts claiming to represent Google.