According to a report by Bitcoin (BTC) crypto exchange, CoinCorner, Google Ads was running an ad for CoinCorner’s phishing clone website, CoinCornerr.com. The issue was reported by CoinCorner’s marketing manager, Molly Spiers, on April 30.
Google Ads promotes a crypto scam but doesn’t want to promote a real firm
Spiers told Cointelegraph that CoinCorner’s team first noticed the fraudulent ad on Thursday morning after searching for “CoinCorner” on Google.com and Google.co.uk. According to the executive, the phishing ad was promoted by Google. CoinCorner has struggled to place ads on Google Ads for years.
The Isle of Man-based crypto exchange has been restricted from advertising on Google Ads since Google put a blanket ban on crypto ads back in 2018, Spiers said. Although Google subsequently announced a partial reverse of the ban, CoinCorner is still among the crypto firms that are not allowed to use Google Ads. Prior to 2018, CoinCorner was a loyal user of Google Ads.
“We have previously had full access to the GoogleAds platform - we were loyal customers for 4 years, from when we launched CoinCorner in June 2014 to when Google updated their Financial Services policy in June 2018 [...] We have contacted Google a number of times to ask for updates on the UK, but to date, GoogleAds is still not available to us.”
The fraudulent CoinCornerr.com website is currently unavailable. Its Google Ad has purportedly been taken down at the time of publication. According to domain registration data, the fraudulent domain was created on April 29.
Does Google actually allow crypto ads?
According to Google’s advertising policies, the platform does allow some crypto ads. Specifically, Google Ads service accepts ads for crypto hardware products and crypto exchanges.
However, crypto exchanges are subject to specific requirements and purportedly only allowed to be promoted in the United States and Japan to date. Cointelegraph tried to reach out to Google for comment and will update if we hear back.
Google’s crypto exchange ad policies. Source: Google
According to Spiers, the fraudulent website successfully bypassed Google Ads’ restrictions by not mentioning Bitcoin or cryptocurrency in their advert at all. The executive elaborated that any adverts that contain crypto-related keywords, like Bitcoin or crypto, are automatically disapproved. “They’ve used the same text as us but removed any mention of Bitcoin, which, at a quick glance, could easily be mistaken for our site,” Spiers explained.
Crypto scam issues intensify on Google and YouTube
CoinCorner’s case is not the first time users have caught Google advertising a crypto scam. In March 2020, Google Ads was promoting a fake Ledger Wallet extension designed to steal crypto from users. To Google’s credit, we reported in mid-April that the company removed 49 Google Chrome web browser extensions after receiving reports of phishing activity.
Meanwhile, Google’s video giant subsidiary, YouTube, has also been burdened with crypto scams. On April 21, Ripple Labs and its CEO, Brad Garlinghouse, filed a lawsuit against YouTube after the platform promoted a fake airdrop from an account impersonating Garlinghouse. Less than a week later, Ripple CTO, David Schwartz, had his YouTube channel suspended on April 29.