Presidential Election Survey Scam: A New Low for Google Maps Spamming
Posted by Joy Hawkins
I often see new tactics that spammers use to get listings on Google Maps via Google My Business. This one is quite creative in comparison to previous ones I’ve looked at. Basically a company called “Presidential Election Survey, Inc” is calling around and claiming that they will give you $30 to answer some questions. However, before they give you the check, they need to mail you a “google business verification code” to your office. This is of course to “verify your address” before they go through the trouble of mailing you the check.
Needless to say, I don’t think anyone should be expecting a check. The real reason they are doing this is so they can use your address to create a fake listing on Google. My guess is that a lead generating company is behind this one.
I first heard about this from a user on the Google My Business forum but also found a user that posted something similar on Reddit (and then has since deleted their post). The user on Reddit did get a postcard from Google in the mail listed like this:
Hello from Google,
The verification code that Presidential Election Survey Inc. requested from Google is below! Just follow the three steps below to finish verifying, and Presidential Election Surveys Inc. will be open for business on Google.
Steps to verify your business:
Sign with your email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Enter your verification code and submit.
I decided to see how well this tactic was working and found 50 listings already on Google.
Among some of the ones that successfully got verified, I found a:
An auto insurance company in Illinois:
This one was particularly interesting since I doubted Progressive Insurance would be involved with this. When you call the phone number it actually routes you to a company called InsureOne who apparently has multiple locations in Illinois. My guess is this lead company decided to use Progressive’s website since it ranks well and they are aware that most users will call, not click to go to the site. Generally when users call, the calls are recorded and then the company buying the leads (in this case InsureOne) would be charged a fee for each lead.
It’s crap like this that will most likely force Google to start monetizing the 3-pack by expanding their current pilot in San Diego that does advanced screening of companies before they are able to get listed at all.