Google advertising scam?

Marco Matte
Marco Matte

ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - A Zachary business owner is at his wits end this weekend. He says people claiming to be with Google have been demanding money to advertise his plumbing business. He told them no, but now he's worried that in this digital age, his response could start to hit him in the pocket.

"Most of my business is from referrals," said Marco Matte.

Referrals that have kept Matte's Plumbing company busy for almost twenty years. But Matte says in the last year, people claiming to be Google representatives have called him non-stop trying to get him to pay $300 every three months to be listed on the search engine.

"I told them I don't want to pay to be listed, and he said 'Well nobody does'," said Matte. "It was almost like a mobster do this or else."

On Thursday, Matte did a Google search on his business and found a link to a Yellow Pages listing showed that it's closed. However, when linking to the Yellow Pages listing through both Yahoo and Bing it shows Matte's business is open. Matte contacted Yellow Pages to see if it was an error on their part, and they responded saying their records do not show that Matte's company is closed.

"You have to wonder is it a scam or is it a scam that Google, has in a way, helped support," said Matte.

We reached out to Google and spoke to an AdWords representative who said this is not the first time he's heard of businesses owners getting calls from "Google reps" demanding they pay for advertising subscriptions. But, he says, there is little if anything Google can do about what's happening to Matte.

"If there is anyone who's receiving these calls, the thing that we do recommend is to get their phone number and any information that they can about it and to give us a call so we can report it to our legal team," said the rep, who 9News only knows as "Tim".

Tim says they only contact people a maximum of three times, and only if they sign up with Google. He says if ever the business owner decides they don't want the subscription, their policy is to stop end contact.

Tim also tells 9News the only way for Matte to fix the search results is to start a "Google Places" account. Tim says it's free, and will allow Matte to update his business information on his own.

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