Scam Watch: Google Sponsored Links


We all know how crafty online scammers can be. Did you know that they are also wealthy enough to purchase ad space at the top of Google’s search results?


These links are labeled as “Google Sponsored Links,” and the company is supposed to be screening out cybercriminals from purchasing ads. However, in recent months, there has been a huge surge of scammers who have made their way through Google’s filtering system.


Example: You click on a sponsored link in Google’s search results to download software you trust (such as to download Chrome). In reality, you are downloading malware from a cybercriminal’s fake site. Or, you click on a link to order from a restaurant you know. Instead, the website orders for you, and marks up the charges.


How to Avoid this Scam:

  • Until Google prioritizes and fixes its leaky scam detection in ads, do not click on sponsored links at the top of Google’s search results.
  • Instead, scroll down and click the legitimate entries from the search engine.
  • Double check the URL source first (by hovering your cursor over the link) to make sure it’s from the website you expect.

If you do accidentally click on a sponsored link, you can run a free scan for malware using Malwarebytes.

(Note: You may choose to download the free version of MalwareBytes to try it out. You do not need a credit card to start, and can do manual scans anytime for free.)


Also, installing an ad-block extension in Chrome or Firefox (see image below) can help minimize the likelihood of you clicking on a bad link. Safari comes with its own built-in ad blockers.


Do we sound like a broken record about avoiding scams? It’s only because we believe in how important it is!



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