Some Google users searching for "Amazon" on Thanksgiving were shown a phony ad that redirected to a scam website, one day before the biggest shopping day of the year. The ad appeared at the top of search results for an unknown number of users for at least part of the day Thursday:. It's unknown what proportion of users searching for "Amazon" were shown the ad.
We strictly prohibit advertising of illegal activity and have removed these ads and suspended the account," a Google representative said.
The redirect could be used to bypass Google's automated scam detection tools. It's unclear how the app redirected users outside Facebook. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.
The app, which appeared to have been removed or shut down Thursday evening, then redirected users to a phony support site purporting to be run by Microsoft's support team with a message saying the computer was infected with malware. The site's URL indicates it is not affiliated with Microsoft:. A phone call to the number on the site Thursday evening was answered by a man with what sounded like a South Asian accent who said his name was Robert. He asked for the error code found on the pop-up and said he would need to take remote access of the computer to resolve the issue.
He said he worked for Microsoft in New York City, but refused to answer when asked where he lived in the city. He quickly became agitated and hung up when asked whether the site was a scam operation designed to lure users into forking over money for supposed anti-malware software.
Online scammers often prey on unsuspecting users by convincing them to purchase software to remove nonexistent malware or viruses. In a July episode of Gimlet Media's "Reply All" podcast , host Alex Goldman uncovered a similar scam operated out of an office building in India that yielded millions of dollars in revenue per year. A survey commissioned by Microsoft found that 21 percent of Americans said they had been duped by a tech support scam.
Amazon is the most popular online shopping destination for U. Google, Facebook and Twitter have come under intense scrutiny over the use of their advertising platforms to spread misinformation or legally dubious material. Members of Congress from both parties have called on the platforms to improve their policing of advertising customers, especially after the intelligence community determined Russian-backed intelligence operatives deployed paid advertising to influence the presidential campaign.
In October, Facebook said 10 million people had seen some 3, ads bought by the Russians. Cyberattacks are more prevalent than ever, and reformed hackers are often the only people who can stop their own kind. Instagram wants to make itself the "kindest" corner of the internet, but can social science and technology beat the trolls? Comment Share Tweet Stumble Email.
The ad appeared at the top of search results for an unknown number of users for at least part of the day Thursday: A fake ad for Amazon that appeared atop Google search results for some users on Thanksgiving.
A scam website purporting to be from Microsoft warning users about malware. Featured in SciTech Cyber Soldiers: White-hat hackers Cyberattacks are more prevalent than ever, and reformed hackers are often the only people who can stop their own kind Is Instagram going too far to protect our feelings? From "60 Minutes" Feeding Puerto Rico. The little spacecraft that could. When food is used as a weapon. A team rebuilds after the ultimate loss.
I am a victim of sexual abuse. Alabama Republicans call allegations against Roy Moore false. Uzbekistan incident raises suspicions of Russian involvement in Cuba attacks. Senate Republicans pass sweeping tax bill. Police identify suspect who opened fire at California hospital. The people who made 60 Minutes what it is. The stars speak to 60 Minutes. Police say officials at Arizona high school didn't report abuse. New Fire TV App.More...