Small Business Alert: Google Local Phone Scams Continue

Chris Moreno of LocalLeads.com sent me this audio recording of a scammer pretending to be Google in their voice message to a small business.

Chris asks what can be done to stop these folks. Very little given the current regulatory environment which pretty much takes a hands off approach to these sorts of scams. Education might help but a new SMB sucker seems to be born every minute which seems to keep these scammers going.

Transcription of the call:
Yea hi, this is an important message for the business owner. Due to recent changes in Google Maps we are required to inform you that unless the business owner reviews and confirms the information on your Google Plus business page, we will no longer be able to show it to Google users at the end of the coming month.

Please call 949-478-6815 to speak to the tech support person assigned to help you personally. Thank You.

A reminder to the small business owner: while Google does occasionally make calls to a business they almost always originate from Google’s main number: (650) 253-0000. These scam calls often originate from boiler room set ups in Souther California and are similar to the scams that were perpetrated by 29Prime for many years and apparently still do.

Do due diligence; ask for a website URL, find out their exact relationship (or lack there of) to Google, double check the phone number they are calling from before running as fast as you can from these folks.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Small Business Alert: Google Local Phone Scams Continue by

26 thoughts on “Small Business Alert: Google Local Phone Scams Continue”

    1. What could Google do? To Google these scammers are nothing more that a very slight annoyance like a fly on an Elephant’s back. They could sue the scammers for fraudulently using their name. To do so could be an economic boon for Google. If it became a news story it would amount to a lot of good publicity .
      Are you listening Google?

  1. @Linda
    It is not clear how Google could suppress these folks. From my point of view they are an outcome of a lax regulatory environment where there is ZERO cost to them of lying and cheating.

  2. one of our clients began receiving these calls as soon as we confirmed her G+ business via postcard about 4-5 weeks ago. It may have something to do with the way they find smbs to scam?

    They called again this morning too and up until I saw this post I thought it was just a third party trying to sell a listing. Thanks for sharing this. I shared with client and told her to block the number.

  3. I’m sure if Google wanted to they could issue an injunction preventing a company from using their name in a misleading way or saying anything misleading that would lead someone to believe it was Google calling. They could also threaten to sue for scams and lies that tarnish their reputation I would think. Not saying they would win, but they could threaten.

    Of course since charging customers for doing no work is likely very profitable, the company would probably just set up a new company and start over. Like some companies we know. 🙁

  4. Possibly for as long as there have been phones there have been entities attempting to scam consumers or businesses with phone calls. Its never stopped. That current efforts to scam businesses invoke Google’s name is indicative of several things, one being that Google is in the consciousness of business operators and scammers think they can make money off of it. Not much new there.

    On a slightly related topic, I take a lot of sales calls and recently took a call from one of the google adwords resellers; a business that is a google “partner” in selling ads.

    I don’t think the cold caller had done any research at all. The business in question has good organic/maps visibility and a lot of adwords coverage.

    I asked several questions, and the cold caller hadn’t bothered looking us up at all. I did get the name of this company. I got to look them up later and review their website which included some pricing info. It seemed “fair” and not that different from what many people that provide adwords help charge.

    But what I found interesting was that the caller was fumbling around with their reference to google and their relationship. He couldn’t define it well, or clearly. He sort of sounded 1/2 as they were part of google and 1/2 that they were different.

    In any case he invoked Google’s name and presence.

    Google is in the mindset of all the callers out there. It must be in the mindsets of enough business owners that it keeps the cold callers busy and obtaining some level of business.

    Nobody ever mentions Bing on the phone.

    I guess that is a societal description of a monopoly? What do you think? 😀

  5. In addition to 29 Prime, there a second company right here in Orange County that constantly post job openings for sales openers and closers. I have never seen these companies post any positions for SEO specialists or analysts.

  6. Half of my time with new clients is explaining that I’m not one of these people. I’m with Linda, I’d love to see a crack down on these companies. It gives the entire industry a bad rap.

  7. Am very sure that Google employees are aware about it by now & they will take action against it soon. But think about the number of innocent business owners will suffer due to this scam as most will not be aware about it.

    To stop these kind of scams, strict actions is essential as well as Google should take additional steps to implement new awareness programs for business owners, just like what it has been doing through Google Webmaster Tools, so that business owners would not be suffered.

  8. I just got one of these calls for the first time ever. Came from 317-318-0370. I got all excited to figure out who it was calling but they hung up once I got connected. They probably did a search on my phone number or something and realized they couldn’t fool me.

  9. I get 3-7 of theses a day. Since I forward all my business numbers to my cell, this create a bit of inconvenience for me. I have dozens of # in my blocked call list and yet they still come. Some mimicking the last number I had in my call list. The latest is they call and hang up. Then the unsuspecting business owner calls it back and the pitch begins. The good news is they are finding me online. If they can find me so can my clients!

    1. Hi Steven
      Thanks for reporting your experience. I, when they do call, love to tape the call, follow it through to its illogical conclusion and generally like to befuddle the salesmen (they are almost always men) with facts.

      That used to work until I started writing scathing articles about their bs and magically I was never called again.

    1. Hi Jack
      Yes it is incredible how much abuse there is. It is a crime that the law enforcement has yet to step in and stop these deceptive practices. Such is life under laissez faire capitalism.

  10. This stuff is appalling .

    Reminds me of a friend of mine who used to work for the Yellow Pages here in the UK and he tells the story about one sales rep there who used to call small business customers and tell them he was calling from Google to get them to spend money.

    Still didn’t manage to save the company though.

  11. Linda said:
    Sure wish Google could do something about all these scammers.

    Mike Blumenthal said
    @Linda
    It is not clear how Google could suppress these folks. From my point of view they are an outcome of a lax regulatory environment where there is ZERO cost to them of lying and cheating.

    Hmm… ZERO cost for lying….
    sounds like Senator Harry Reid

  12. We have been getting these calls for a long time. ..they are annoying and time consuming. We now just hang up. These calls ramp up towards the end of the week…some times we get 7 or 8 calls. blocling is not effective. All of this scamming is annoying.

  13. I forward the office phone to my cell quite often. I block area codes with Mr. Number app. They waste my time 8-10 times a day. Sometimes more. Having to drop what I am involved in. Take off my gloves. Pull phone out of the holster. Its frustrating.

  14. Just got one of these for the very first time today.

    Interestingly, my business HAS NO WEBSITE (yet); and the only places that have a phone number for the business are the state where the LLC is registered, the whois for my domain, my bank, and 3 contractors. From the number actually called, they got me either from whois, or from the state. The registered domain is a .com, but with no listed organization; either they’ll be hitting all the personal .com sites too, or they’re getting a data dump from state registries.

  15. Received this exact scam today for my business. Number they used was 424-296-2008. Basically they tried scare tactics that my business would never be found on Google again if I didn’t pay them $299. When I figured it out mid-phone call this was all BS the “lady” on the phone basically belittled me saying “so you’re sure you don’t want to be found on Google anymore? You don’t care about your business?”. Sheesh.. I guess I don’t.

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