Scammers have found a new way to trick PayPal, Amazon and eBay customer. They are leveraging Google Search results to push fake ads that pretend to be customer support numbers of popular sites.
How does the scam operate?
BleepingComputer reports that if victims attempted to call one of these fake numbers, they will be greeted with a scammer who claims to be from one of these three companies.
In the case of PayPal, the call is answered by someone stating ‘Thank you for calling PayPal support’. The scammer then tells the victims that their PayPal account has a problem and can only be fixed if a code of a Google Play card is sent. The scammer assures that the money paid for the Google Play card will be reimbursed by PayPal.
What is the limitation?
The scam ad pretending to be tech support hotlines works only on mobile devices. The mobile version of the Google search result page looks convincing and can easily confuse a person. However, the desktop version of the search result page looks fake. Most of the desktop ads utilize symbols such as parenthesis, pipes and Unicode symbols to separate different parts of the numbers.
The symbols have been used to bypass Google’s automated ad quality screening tools.
How did Google respond?
BleepingComputer contacted Google about these ads.
In response, Google told, “We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads we allow on our platform, and ads that conceal or misstate information about their business are prohibited on our platform. When we find ads that violate our policies, we remove them.”
Meanwhile, the fake ads have been removed from the search result page and are no longer visible.