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Hired Webmaster - He Inserted His AdSense into My Site

What Are My Remedies?

     
3:40 pm on Sep 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I hired someone to take care of a few minor technical items on my website, and within 24 hours someone had placed Google Adsense in the code on our website. I know that everytime someone clicks the advertisement on the website somebody gets paid for it. I am not interested in that at all. The only person that has access to that stuff other than me is him. Is there any legal action I can take against this person? Or, is there any way that I can prove it was him?
4:11 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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In the code is his publisher number.

Google takes care, that a publisher number can be traced to a real person.

So when You describe the case to Google, we have maybe some days later a new "They have canceled my account, but I am inocent" posting here.

6:43 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Wow that person is incredibly unprofessional, bordering on fraud.
8:00 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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As jetteroheller points out, you can get the publisher number by doing a View->Page Source in your browser while viewing one of your pages with the ads on it.

Then contact Google. The likely result is that this so-called webmaster's account will be canceled, and he won't be able to open another one, ever -- except by fraudulent means.

Alternatively, you could have an attorney gather this information, contact Google to get (or subpoena) the information, and then file suit.

Which method you choose would depend on how much time and energy you have, and how deep you think his pockets are. But anyone who would stoop this low to make a few cents a day is not likely to have enough to pay your attorney's fees...

Oh, and do change all of your hosting and e-mail server account password(s) before doing any of this... :)

Jim

8:10 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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If he's that sneaky and unethical, who knows what else he's pulling on other sites. I'd definitely let Adsense know, to keep your own domain in the clear in case of other shenanigans on his part.

adsense-abuse(at)google(dot)com

8:18 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I would change the passwords for access to your sites files for starters.
11:16 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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  1. Copy the page contents (view/source...) and keep it safe.
  2. Get legal help cause your next step might be breaching of contract. If it's too expensive, at least read the contract.
  3. Do this as close as possible together with the next step: change all passwords (You're tipping him off now)
  4. Have somebody who knows what they're doing on a technical level audit your web site (give them access for this). It's way too easy to install a backdoor if he hid some script somewhere you might still get toasted.
  5. Have the unwanted ads removed
  6. Deal with the results of the audit, it might be significant
  7. Complain -if your legal help agrees- to adsense-abuse at google dot com
  8. Consider it learning a lesson, figure out where your processes failed and try to prevent it from reoccurring.
11:26 pm on Sept 5, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Maybe take screen shots of your pages showing the AdSense on them. Might be handy to have later.
12:05 am on Sept 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Considering how unprofessional this situation sounds, I doubt you make the money needed to afford legal counsel.

What you should do is inform Google of what happened and they can check where his ID has been. Change your passwords and that'll be that.

12:57 am on Sept 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Get some TECHNICAL help to help you determine how the AdSense code got onto your site, who has been logging in, etc.

For one thing, it's possible this person didn't do it. For another, you can't expect Google to tell you who is associated with that publisher ID without serving them legal papers.

(However, if you can track down any websites they own that have AdSense on them, you can do a View Source and compare the publisher IDs yourself.)

1:54 am on Sept 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Is it possible to use a software like spy buddy to secretly record everything that is being done on a computer? Would such a thing be allowed as evidence in court?
5:02 pm on Sept 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Wow that person is incredibly unprofessional, bordering on fraud.

Nope, that sounds like actual fraud, it sounds like he mis-represented what he was going to do and took advantage of your lack of knowledge, which is unfortunate because he gives all freelance webmasters a bad name.

I would at a minimum change the passwords to your account and then hire a real webmaster who is honest to go in and remove the code from your site, but not before he takes screen captures of what it looked like before he/she removes it and documents where it is at etc. so you can prove a case in court if you wish to pursue it that far.

Personally, I would file a claim in small claims court for the maximum damages allowed. In my state that is $5,000 dollars. That should get his attention and then simply hire a webmaster to go to court with you and present your case, the proof and get a judgment against him. With a judgment you can hire a collections attorney to put liens on anything this guy owns, i.e. checking accounts, house, business, etc. Until he settles the debt. It is quite possible you will never get a dime from him, but it shouldn't cost you much to do this other than a little time.

5:39 pm on Sept 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Until he settles the debt.

I am in the UK and I am not sure about US law but before you can use the small claims courts here there has to be a debt. There is none in this case.

10:40 pm on Sept 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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ask what his websites are and check the adsense code on those sites...
1:12 am on Sept 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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As suggested; run, don't walk. Document, change passwords - everything that has been suggested. Definitely get a professional to look over your files for other exploits.

If it's not too late, get the last modified details for the page. Anything to definitively tie it to his time of access and to prove the it was him. Lots of people are guilty - proving it is something else. Don't know enough about Google to know how forthcoming they are likely to be without lots-o-lawyers.

(Note: Be 100% positive. Stranger things have happened that have been purely coincidental. That may be 98% unlikely but it DOES happen.)

Where did you find the guy?

Can you identify other clients that may have been abused? This will help your case. Tie in another case of abuse (which shouldn't be hard) and that is another bullet in your gun.

If you can't identify another client, run a sting. Work with somebody that plays Dopey and practically invites the guy do run one or more scams. Stuff like this is sometimes worth the extra hassle just for the kicks - for the pleasure of giving a deserved b....slap. Most of the time it is easier and cheaper just to extricate oneself and move on. Sometimes payback is worth whatever it costs.

7:31 pm on Sept 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Sounds bad but what if he entered someone else's adsense code on there to get them banned? Would adsense be able to tell it was not the adsense owner who did it? Either way it was a pretty nasty thing to do and you should get rid of the guy.
5:20 pm on Sept 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am in the UK and I am not sure about US law but before you can use the small claims courts here there has to be a debt.

English Common Law was in place in the UK long before the US, I have to believe you have lawyers over there that easily as creative as here. I am thinking you could make a case of damages to brand, lost opportunity, etc. and "create" a debt that must then be satisfied.

3:23 pm on Sept 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I am thinking you could make a case of damages to brand, lost opportunity, etc. and "create" a debt that must then be satisfied.

No doubt this possible. I would say this compares to someone parking a hot-dog stand outside a B&M shop (I am no lawyer, but I bet there are plenty of law suits on this and related topics). If they are on your property doing business, they must either have express permission (operating as part of your business or by permit) or get lost. If you want to make life easy, you could grant him permission to do what he is already doing (I'd get something in writing, hopefully by a lawyer) and charge him rent -- make sure you have some sort of clause for retroactive payment for the AdSense revenue he has already received.

A bit harder approach might be to estimate his AdSense revenue and claim that as damages in any potential lawsuit.

Just my thoughts, though. I'd really check with a lawyer before you take any actions.

 

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