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More reasons why Behavioural Targetted Ads are Bad
Gmail, Adsense, Online Fraud

 12:34 pm on Mar 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

"the fraudsters who robbed me of nearly 2,000 had found their way into my Google mailbox, uninvited. I had now learned how to spot the bogus companies. When I ran further checks I found more fraudulent ads for expensive camera equipment had gained priority in my inbox"

"Ten days after our conversation, one of the bogus companies I had named to Harris was still getting its ads into the strap above my inbox




 9:57 pm on Mar 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

Yep, see a bargain with a 2,000 GBP discount, get at 17% discount for direct deposit... and then blame Google...

If the Ad was in the Sun would he have fallen for it, and then blamed the Sun?


 10:20 pm on Mar 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

It really was a targeted behavioral ad but I didn't know AdWords could target stupid.


 11:27 pm on Mar 19, 2011 (gmt 0)

I didn't know AdWords could target stupid.
If we think about that, it's probably easy. All you would have to do is go after<insert name of your least favorite political personality> supporters.

 1:37 pm on Mar 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I note this organisation was contacted [webmasterworld.com ]


 4:57 pm on Mar 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's a bit cheap to mock fraud victims however gullible they were.

The point is that the ad was a fraud. Google kept serving the ad after the fraud was pointed out to them. The victim spoke directly to Ronan Harris (Google's European online sales director) and 10 days or so later the ads were still being served.

And after realising the big mistake he made the victim could get no redress from any authority.

I would not wish that on any victim, however dull they are, however much they would be an enemy.

When a fraud like this happens there is a responsibility to stop it happening again. Unfortunately G would rather keep skimming their x% from ad sales and help perpetuate the fraud.


 6:32 pm on Mar 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's a bit cheap to mock fraud victims however gullible they were.

Not really.

There wouldn't be fraud if people would stop being so greedy and gullible.

Just because you trust Google is no reason to trust anyone that advertisers on Google, nor should you trust anyone indexed in Google's SERPs either, they're not the police, they're a modern version of a phone book and almost everyone with a phone # gets listed.

So what if Google blocks the ads, which they should do, the same fraudsters would show up in the SERPs perhaps, and if not there, the same type of idiocy reigns supreme in email spam which is why spam is prolific because people keep falling for those scams.

This is a typical crime where the victim's own greed and desire to possess something beyond his means was the catalyst for the crime:
I was astonished to see an advert for my chosen camera pop up in the banner running across the top of my Google email inbox. And instead of the 4,000 or so I had expected to pay, the asking price was less than 2,000. How could I not be tempted?

Common sense must apply at all times when dealing with the world and a reasonable person would realize they aren't giving cameras away for half-price. Seriously, other than the black market, where you receive stolen goods, would such prices exist? If you're willing to go that route my sympathy immediately wanes.

At the end of the day repeating a simple phrase would've saved these people from the scam: "if it looks too good to be true it probably is!"


When a fraud like this happens there is a responsibility to stop it happening again.

Yes. It's called EDUCATION. Teaching people how to detect and avoid fraud is the best way to stop it long term instead of coddling victims.

Besides, if it was a credit card transaction over the web wouldn't a chargeback solve his problem? That would do it in the US, maybe not in the UK? Also, if it was a fraud via credit card, where's the credit card company at protecting customers as well?

Well, not if he hadn't fallen for the second stupid part of the scam:
So I sent my order and felt proud of my financial coup. I was in no frame of mind to smell the next rat that scurried past: if I transferred payment from my bank to theirs, they told me, I could save a 17% surcharge for using a credit card.

Lot's of failure points on this one, this guys fraud alarms should've been going off full tilt but we're supposed to have empathy for someone that makes the bank transfer to save 17% which is a whopping lie?



 7:13 pm on Mar 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

I totally understand those points.

But why, 10 days after speaking directly with Ronan Harris, were the fraudulent ads still being shown? The victim educated Google but they did not doing anything for sometime.


 7:17 pm on Mar 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

But why, 10 days after speaking directly with Ronan Harris, were the fraudulent ads still being shown?

2 things come to mind.

1 - running a sting operation to catch the crooks or,
2 - the crooks had a vast ad network setup and just kept posting them on new accounts


 1:39 am on Mar 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not into blaming the victim, but there were red flags all over the field on that one.

First of all, half off on a name brand with strong price support should alert the buyer to expect a "Like-a", not a Leica. And what's with the 17% discount? Standard CC fees amount to less than 5% of the amount involved. That's rat #2. The third rat shows up in changing the mode of payment from something that can be repudiated to something that can't be.

Google sells ads to anyone with enough money. The advertisers get that money from anyone they can convince to release it. You tried to save an unlikely 17% off an improbable 50%. Chalk it up to a really expensive lesson and try not to make that particular mistake again.

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