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Economic stimulus grant scams

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Saturday March 7, 2009 )

The FTC is cracking down hard on economic stimulus related scams and about to turn their attention to ad networks associated with sites that run them, along with publishers who advertise such services.

According to the FTC, some sites are offering to provide access to a list of economic stimulus grants for as little as $1.99; but what can happen is that the consumer’s credit card number is then used for carrying out fraud or the consumer winds up on a regular billing for the service, often at a higher price.

In other scams, personal information or credit card numbers aren’t asked for but links are offered that supposedly take the person to information on how to qualify for funds. Often these links lead to pages that infected with malware.

The FTC is taking this very seriously, going so far as approaching advertising networks directly to warn them about allowing these kinds of ads being run through their networks or even having associations with publishers involved in promoting such scams. I received an email today from an ad network stating quite plainly that any publisher engaged in such promotions will be immediately dropped.

According to the note I received, among the guidelines from the FTC as to what web sites/promotions may NOT do: :

– Promote a grant advertiser and state that the advertised website will help you to qualify for a share of federal stimulus or recovery package money

– Promote the website stating the fact that or alluding to the fact that the website has government approval and is somehow endorsed by the President or Vice President of the United States of America

– Use any images, likeness, video, or voice of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden

– Guaranteeing that the user will be awarded access to grants because of their purchase of website’s products or services

I’m assuming the third point is just in relation to advertising related services.

So, if you are promoting such services, best to play it safe and get them off your site as fast as you can. I get the impression that ignorance will not be bliss if the FTC comes knocking on your door, or if an ad network you’re associated with discovers such ads on a publisher’s site.


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