The Chilling Digital Reality

While it’s great that we have all sorts of tools in our arsenal, they would mean nothing, if we didn’t have the freedom to use them in whichever manner we liked. You see, this freedom allows us to try and introduce many different ideas along the way, and by doing so, it ends up fuelling our growth like nothing else. However, as it turns out, our use of the said luxury hasn’t always been judicious. In fact, on certain occasions, human actions have proven to be so detrimental that their impact was felt across the board. To counter such a conundrum, the world brought dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. This altered the landscape rather dramatically, because all of a sudden, our entire spectrum looked more organized than ever before. Notably, it’s not to say there were no challenges at all. With technology taking over the scene, the rule breakers did get another chance at fulfilling their unscrupulous purposes, but recent cases suggest it might not go on for long. A lawsuit involving Google joins the same string of indicators.

Google has officially sued a scammer, who launched an online “puppy fraud scheme” and tricked people out of thousands of dollars. Named Nche Noel, the man reportedly created a whole network, which had multiple fake websites, Google Voice phone numbers, and Gmail accounts, in a bid to make sure that his puppy selling business looked genuine. Apart from using various Google tools to defraud people, the scammer even ran Google Ads for promoting his fake websites, therefore raising a question about company’s sensitivity to such occurrences. Talk about how the operation used to go down, one particular example digs into when a customer paid Noel $700 for a puppy. After receiving the money, Noel went for an even bigger con by telling the customer that the delivery company needed another $1,500. The total amount lost in this scam is still unclear, but as per certain reports, the scammer did target elderly people in particular.

“The actor used a network of fraudulent websites that claimed to sell basset hound puppies — with alluring photos and fake customer testimonials — in order to take advantage of people during the pandemic,” Mike Trinh, Google’s senior counsel. “Sadly, this scam disproportionately targeted older Americans, who can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks.”

AARP, an elderly issues group, made Google aware of the scam last year in September. Unfortunately, though, it’s just one of the many scams we have seen since the pandemic increased our time on social media and other platforms. To contextualize the severity, we can look at an FTC report from last year that revealed the commission had sent over 100 alerts and encouraged more than 350 companies in regards to removing deceptive claims. There is every reason to believe that the stated numbers have grown even further.

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