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Google AdWords Phishing Scam

Summary:
Email purporting to be from Google AdWords claims that the recipient's Google ads will be suspended unless payment information is updated (Full commentary below).



Status:
False

Example:(Submitted, July 2008)
Subject: Your payment didn't succeed, so your ads have been suspended.

Dear Advertiser,

We were unable to process your payment.
Your ads will be suspended soon unless we can process your payment. To prevent your ads from being suspended, please update your payment information.

Please sign in to your account at [Link Removed],
and update your payment information.

We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.
Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords.

The Google AdWords Team




Commentary:
This unsolicited email claims to be from Google AdWords. Google AdWords provide an easy method for people to place advertisements on the Google network via an online submission system. According to the message, the recipient's payment for ads was unsuccessful and current ads will be suspended if payment details are not quickly updated. The email instructs the recipient to click a link to sign in to his or her AdWords account and update payment information.

However, the email is not from Google AdWords and is designed to steal personal and financial information from AdWords customers. To further the illusion of legitimacy, the email is disguised so that it appears to originate from a genuine Google AdWords email address. A victim who clicks the link in the scam email will be taken to a fake login web page that is almost identical in appearance to the genuine Google AdWords login. If the victim "logs in" on the bogus webpage he or she will then be taken to a fraudulent web form like the one shown in the following screenshot. The form requests credit card names and numbers as well as address details and other personal information:

Fake Google AdWords Web Form

Any information submitted via this fake web form and the initial bogus login page can be collected by the criminals responsible for the scam and subsequently used for credit card fraud and identity theft. Google Adwords has warned customers about these phishing scam attempts on its website. Other versions of the scam may inform users that an ad has been disapproved or that they must update account details or accept new terms and conditions before proceeding.

Internet users should be cautious of any unsolicited email that requests the recipient to provide personal and financial information. Google and other reputable companies will not request such sensitive information via an unsolicited email.

Read more information about phishing scams

References:
What do I do if I receive a suspicious email claiming to be from AdWords?
Beware email scam trying to get your adwords account details


Last updated: 29th July 2008
First published: 29th July 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen