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by Alec Sharratt on 15th June 2011
It all started innocuously enough last week when a colleague, Anna George, was contacted by a client whose AdWords account she manages. The client had received a phone call from someone “at Google”; they had been told that three years ago they purchased a few keywords and were currently on the front page of Google as a result.
Sadly their contract was about to expire and would be soon up for renewal, hence the phone call. Worse still if they were not prepared to pay the £99.99, the gentleman from “Google” explained, they would drop to page 40 for their keywords.
The client called us to ask for our advice. He was alarmed, as you would expect, and was wondering if such a package could have been bought three years ago? Anna advised our client to tell the person from “Google” to call her directly later in the day and to be sure to mention that she is the one who holds the company credit card.
At around 14:00 Anna gets the call, and with the phone on loud speaker, mine recording sound and a room full of Search Specialists eagerly waiting, the sales pitch started instantly.
No sooner was the phone answered, Anna was promptly asked for her card details. The guy turned out not to be from Google. He explained to Anna that his company, “UK Business Directory” is the only UK company officially working with Google. Big claims!
The premise of this pitch, after some hard questions and a lot of pushiness, was that his company will optimise their own website for your keywords, once listed they contact Google and let them know to replace their listing with your website and… voila.
This conversation went on for over ten minutes while the rest of us hushed, passing notes around with questions to ask him. One question which, we can only assume, stumped him resulted in the call being terminated. Assuming again, that he had realised we were onto him, he hung up!
Were we wrong? Nope, he simply called back a minute later blaming us for having a weak signal and moving on as though we had never asked him “So, how do you replace one organic listing with another?”.
‘Scam Google Man’ then tried incentivising us with the carrot rather than the stick by proffering that this was a new government initiative that meant we were actually getting four years free, so the £99.99 of legitimately earned cash was now starting to look like a token gesture. So we get the next five years of… erm… ah… paid for organic switched on listings for less than a hundred pounds
It was only when pressed for a phone number, a website address for his business or a means of contacting him that the phone call was ended quickly with a promise to email us more information.
Unbelievably no email was to come, though frequently we checked, the little picture of an envelope never materialised. Soon after the call we discovered that we were not the first to be targeted by this scam. A little digging on the internet unveiled a shocking fact: He was NOT even part of a company called UK Business Directory, who actually have an advisory notice on their website warning people that someone has been using their company name to scam people.
So here are the facts:
Another website, ‘WhoCallsMe’ who have countless posts about this guy calling them, claiming to be renewing a subscription.
Though we had some fun with this guy on the phone, the truth of the matter is that this is fraud, plain and simple. It preys upon the ignorance of people. He uses fear, pressure, reward, and the most appallingly effortless ability to lie in order to defraud people of their money. In the process of doing this he taints the honest professionals who work in digital marketing.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that there were a number of reasons for writing this post, but the primary reason which out ways all others is to try and prevent anyone from being scammed by this criminal. The number to watch out for if he calls is 0845 5439 508. Do not call this number back. If you do get a call from him, let the authorities know, as we have done.
Online Scams in word collage via BigStock