Google Ads: Don’t become a Victim of Fraud

If you are a small business owner, then you might have considered using Google Ads. However, Google Ads has an area of opportunity for scammers due to a system flaw and scammers are taking full advantage. Continue reading.

What is Google Ads?

AdWords, recently re-branded as Google Ads, is an advertising service delivered by Google for businesses wishing to display ads on the Google search engine and its ad network. The program allows a business to set a budget for advertising which is charged per-click. The ad service is largely focused on keywords via bidding.

What’s the Scam?

Due to the general complexity involved with Google Ads, many business owners create an account and then consider hiring an admin. The admin is generally tasked with creating a campaign, creating bidding strategies and similar. However, this is where things can get ugly.

The Scenario

You Created the Account, it’s your payment method attached to the account, but Google allow an Admin to pilot the account ignoring the card owner and original account creator. In other words, if this admin suddenly decides to do something untoward (fraud), then there is little you can do (Google Ads protects the person committing fraud).  

It’s your account, since you created it, you attached your own payment method, however, the admin can simply delete you, spend at full wish (on their own ads) and Google will only listen to the admin of which deleted you (with your payment method attached).  

Of course, this is a hijack and once you have zero control of your card (when you cannot access the account due to the scammer deleting you) it becomes fraud. To be clear, the definition of fraud is: wrongful or criminal deception intended to result in financial or personal gain.

Where might you find this type of Scammer?

You are likely to come across this type of scam on a Freelancing website. Tech savvy scammers can take full advantage of this loophole and they prey on newcomers of whom are seeking help but have little to no experience with Google Ads. They’ll likely convince you to make them an admin (no warning provided about the dangers you can encounter from Google), and they’ll begin as you’d expect, creating your campaign and winning your trust. You’ll be tempted to deliver great feedback as they possibly generate positive results, however, that’s how they can build a good feedback profile (month one, good feedback, month two scam happens).

As can be seen below, the scammer is generating negative feedback due to their actions, username: seosea01.

What Does the Scammer Gain?

As mentioned before, most people involved with Google Ads are tech savvy, and it takes such an induvial to conduct the scam. For example, they may have their own websites in place or other clients from where they can use your card to generate leads for themselves.

What can you do if you fall victim?

Call Google (if you can): Such a scammer with likely select Saturday or Sunday as the opportunity to do something untoward. Why? Google Ads isn’t available on the telephone at weekends – clearly a good time for such a scam to happen from a scammers point of view. It leaves you unable to talk with the Google Ads team.

Based on experience, Google will take you on a trail and actually communicate with the scammer (admin) opposed to you as the account creator, of course, the admin (scammer) replies with something such as: “we don’t wish for the user to be involved with the account”. Thus, your account, from which you created along with your payment details, is no longer in your control (fraud).

It is important to contact your bank since fraud has happened.

Be wary about assigning an admin to a Google Ads account. Avoid people who demand admin access. Use a trusted company to run the ads for you.

How Can We Stop This Scam From Happening?

Google has the ability to change this, however Google appear totally unwilling to acknowledge this (support team) and thus, it might take government intervention.

Google should consider the creator of a Google Ads account as the overall authority. Admins shouldn’t be able to simply delete the account creator from where there is no comeback, especially when the account creator’s payment details remain live. Google should work closely with the account creator and treat other invited users lower down within the account hierarchy. A common-sense approach should be applied. Without this, tech savvy scammers will abuse the Google Ads system.


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