AN INCREDIBLE NUMBER OF Business Listings On Google Maps Are Fake-and Google Profits

Abuhazim tried reaching Google to explain his dilemma, but he was frequently routed for an just offshore call middle. Operators, he said, “treated me like I’m stupid.” With his businesses pushed off the first page of Google Maps results, incoming calls halved. He said he was on the verge of shutting. Google cleared away some of the false entries after the Journal inquired about Mr. Abuhazim’s situation.

“It’s less harmful to piss off the federal government than piss off Google,” Mr. Abuhazim said. “The government will strike me with a fine. But if Google suspends my listings, I’m out of a job. Anas Abuhazim, owner of Smart Tow Inc. and Cash for Junk Cars LLC over the calendar year on Google advertising shows how much money he spent in a little. Advertisers of all sizes compete in Google auctions to appear alongside words that customers are likely to use in a Google search.

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Firms pay Google for every click produced by those words. Prices in business categories that Google has discovered as ripe for ad-fraud-specialized lawyers, for instance-have risen more than 50% before 2 yrs. 1,000 for each customer who clicks on the website from a Google search. Before a business shows up on its maps, Google typicallymails a postcard, phones or transmits an email to the company with a numerical code that must be coming into into a Google website.

The check system is one way to subvert automated programs that can create scores of fake businesses. Google’s scams filters sometimes ensnare reputable businesses, freezing them until they verify they are real away. Google Maps in March dropped all six offices of personal injury attorney Ian Silverthorne for unspecified “quality issues,” he said. Out of suspicion, he searched Google and counted 108 suspect listings in and around Orange County, Calif., where Mr. Silverthorne has a working office.

He started calling the listings, he said, and found they visited a competition, Oakwood Legal Group LLP, which functions as a single Orange County office. Oakwood didn’t respond to demands for comment. Mechanic Abdei Safi, still left, updates Anas Abuhazim on maintenance to 1 of his vehicles. To become reinstated on Google Maps, Google asked Mr. Silverthorne sends videos from his mobile phone that demonstrated him in his various legislation offices.

After questions from the Journal, Google reinstated his listings. “There will be times we get it wrong,” said Mr. Russell, of Google. Google said it offers long battled phantom business listings. For days gone by decade, the business has hosted around a dozen volunteers each fall who patrol its pages for forgeries.

This digital version of the Neighborhood Watch group, which includes advertising specialists trained by Google, stays at a motel near the corporate campus, eating on egg whites, from cage-free chickens, and other free offerings at company cafeterias. Mr. Blumenthal, the brand-new York search specialist, has joined many of the annual trips, that is billed as educational excursions. He discovered, he said, that Google “has chosen never to solve the problem obviously.” He skipped last year’s junket.