According to a recent federal RICO lawsuit filed, Google is letting hundreds of unlicensed locksmiths advertise on its various search pages, exposing consumers to potential scams, and ripping off legitimate locksmith businesses as a result.
Baldino’s Lock and Key Service is suing several entities, including Yellowbook, Google, Ziplocal LP and SuperMedia Sales. They are claiming that all of these websites are allowing known unlicensed locksmiths to advertise their services online, which amounts to both racketeering and false advertising.
“As of the filing of this suit, there are 150 licensed locksmiths in the State of Maryland, yet Google is publishing over 400 names of purported locksmiths with ostensible locations in Virginia,” the complaint reads. Although many might wonder how Google would be able to selectively determine that certain locksmiths are legitimate out of the millions of listings they post each day, the complaint further states that, “Google can independently determine, online and automatically, that it is engaged in publishing the names of illegally operating locksmiths.”
Baldino’s Lock and Key Service believes that the only reason Google refuses to filter out the unlicensed locksmiths is because their postings generate revenue through Google adwords. Knowingly posting unlicensed operators, according to the claim, amounts to “aiding and abetting a fraud.” They further point out that in continuing to post these businesses, Google is violating its own statements regarding Adword policy and procedure.
The suit, and what it could imply regarding the responsibility of search engine and ad posting sites, is important in light of a recent report by Consumer Reports which warns locked-out home and car owners that emergency locksmith scams are on the rise around the country.
“Hiring an unlicensed locksmith can be extremely dangerous as you are giving an untrusted source full access to your home or business,” says Vlad, Owner of Direct Locksmith in Toronto. “This is something that I have felt Google should be wise to a long time ago.”