Fake: Google ads lead to bogus Mirror page with links to a Bitcoin trading scam
Get email updates with the day’s biggest stories
Invalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.Sign upWe use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time.More infoThank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy notice
The popular share trading app Robinhood, which offers trading without brokers’ fees, has caused a lot of interest with the announcement that it will float on the New York stock exchange.
I searched online for information about the listing and two out of the first three results were frauds promoted by Google Ads, which doesn’t surprise me.
The first of the websites, https://954e.lofcecengest.info, promised “high-yield investments online” and the second, https://ti7256.sultmifeasanma.co, tempted: “Double your investment this month”.
Clicking on both of them led to identical sites that were clones of the Mirror’s website that have been repeatedly promoted through adverts on Google.
They purported to show a news story we’d carried about an investor telling the This Morning show how he was making £23,000 a month from Bitcoin trading.
The fake stories linked to a website trading as British Bitcoin Profit which promised huge riches for just 20 minutes of work a day and was filled with made-up testimonials. They also did not give any indication of the business behind the sites, and that alone should have given Google reason to not touch them.
I emailed Google’s press office: “These fraudulent sites are putting the public at risk and damaging the Mirror’s brand, and they should be easy and quick for Google to spot by simply looking at the URLs and seeing that they are not mirror.co.uk.”
A Google spokesperson replied saying: “Google has always had strict policies around the type of content that is allowed to serve as ads on our platform. We quickly remove any ads that violate these policies.”
Wind forward to this Monday, when I searched online again for information about the Robinhood shares launch, and there was with predictable inevitability yet another Google advert linking to the same fake Mirror online story.
There’s no suggestion Robinhood is linked to the scam sites.
PS I hope I don't give the impression that it's just Google that runs adverts for scams, Facebook is at it too.
It has been carrying promotions for UK Income Bonds, which promises “Discover the best interest rates”.
Clicking on the advert takes you to bondrates.uk, which claims to be a trading name of Quadreen Investment Management (UK) Limited and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
There are several problems with this, starting with the fact there's no such company, Quadreen changed its name in May to GB Finance & Management Services Limited.
That month it is also had its authorisation cancelled by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Its director, 72-year-old London solicitor Hamid Iqbal, tells me that he has nothing to do with the numerous online adverts that have been using his company's former name.
I registered a complaint with Facebook but the UK Income Bonds account with the fake details was still up and running when I checked yesterday.