The Federal Trade Commission has filed a complaint against a Florida-based telemarketing company that claimed to be affiliated with Google.
The company that operated the scam, Point Break Media, used robocalls, starting in November 2016, at the latest, to get money out of small businesses, according to the FTC complaint.
Point Break Media falsely claimed to represent Google, threatened to remove businesses from Google search results and promised first-page or first-place placement in search results, according to the complaint.
However, Point Break Media has no relationship with Google, according to the FTC.
The robocalls threatened to list the targeted businesses as “permanently closed” unless they spoke with a “Google specialist,” according to the complaint.
The telemarketers would then try to sell a “claiming and verification” service that would help the business appear prominently in search results, according to the complaint. Point Break Media would then charge $300 – $700 for the “service.”
The scammers would then also try to sell an additional service that falsely promised first-page placement in search results. According to the complaint, this would cost a flat fee of $949.99 with an additional monthly charge of either $169.99 or $99.99.
The complaint also stated that the scammers wrote themselves $100 checks from at least 250 consumers’ bank accounts without their knowledge in October 2017 after losing the ability to process credit cards.
The FTC said that Point Break Media violated the FTC Act through deceptive representation and unfair billing practices, according to the complaint.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida is presiding over the case.
On May 8, the court entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants, which prohibits them from lying about their business practices, charging consumers without their knowledge and releasing customer information. All of their assets were also frozen.