FTC returns $2.3 million from online work-at-home scheme

The operation used Google's name to charge customers for a bogus work-at-home service, the agency says

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has begun mailing 93,086 refund checks totalling nearly US$2.3 million to consumers who were allegedly charged hidden fees by a fake work-at-home service that used Google's name to advertise.

The online work-at-home operation, which operated under the names Google Money Tree, Google Pro and Google Treasure Chest, deceptively used Google's name and logo, the FTC said in a Tuesday press release. The operation promised that consumers could earn $100,000 in six months after signing up to receive a work-at-home kit for a shipping fee of under $4, according to the FTC and court records.

The operation was not affiliated with Google, the FTC said.

The operation didn't tell consumers that, by ordering the work-at-home kit, they were disclosing their account information and would be charged an additional $72.21 each month, the FTC said.

Under a settlement with the FTC, the defendants are banned from selling products through so-called negative option transactions, in which the seller interprets consumers' silence or inaction as permission to charge them. The defendants are also prohibited from making misleading or unsupported claims while marketing or selling any product or service.

The FTC filed a complaint against the operation in July 2009 U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. A final judgment against the operation, including companies Infusion Media and West Coast Internet Media, came in October 2010.

The settlement also required the defendants to surrender cash and other assets, which are being used by the FTC to refund consumers who bought the Google Money Tree, Google Pro, or Google Treasure Chest products.

The FTC Checks mailed the checks on Tuesday. The checks and must be cashed before Nov. 12.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Grant Gross

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place