In brief:

  • Google is letting an imposter crypto website advertise on its platform instead of the real company.
  • The fake site is a phising website designed to steal user details.
  • These details can be used to steal Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Despite upturning their blanket ban on cryptocurrency ads, some crypto-centric businesses are still struggling to get promoted by Google. But scammers, it seems, are able to promote their fake websites without a hitch.

Molly Spiers, marketing manager for British-based Bitcoin exchange CoinCorner, pointed out today that Google continues to prevent the company from advertising on the social media engine, but has allowed a fake site to impersonate it.

"So @GoogleAds won't allow @CoinCorner - a long-standing, legitimate business - on their platform, but will allow phishing companies? Pay attention @Google!" Spears tweeted.

When you search “CoinCorner” on Google, an advert promotes the site www.coincornerr.com, with the name CoinCornerr. The apparent scam website mirrors the real CoinCorner website, asking users to enter their details. This is a phishing attack, where the scammers will use the details to steal the users’ Bitcoin. CoinCorner has reported the website but it is still online.

"We've been unable to use GoogleAds for years, despite having more than enough evidence to prove we're legit," argues Spiers, "So it's frustrating when this happens and not just from a business perspective but from trying to protect consumers too!"

Ironically Google's crypto ad embargo was originally put in place to protect users from fraudulent offerings.

The ban was partially relaxed in 2018 when Google allowed regulated cryptocurrency exchanges in both the US and Japan. Still, several crypto companies, including CoinCorner, have strived to use GoogleADs and been turned away—despite satisfying the criteria.

CoinCorner CEO Danny Scott tweeted that CoinCorner is a "6 year old company, registered with our financial services authority and still Google says no.”

It's not the first time Google has advertised a hoax website. Scammers and speculators have been using Google Ads to promote roguish schemes for years. And Google, for the most part, seems to have profited from it—pocketing the ad revenue even when a fraudulent website has been exposed.

"We have previously had 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, announcing a blanket ban on cryptocurrency advertising," Spiers told Decrypt. She said that when Google relaxed its policy, it was only in the US and Japan. "We have contacted Google on a number of occasions to ask about the status of the UK, but to date, GoogleAds is still not available to us," she added.

"We do hope to be able to use Google Adwords again. Bitcoin is growing day by day and we hope that as it becomes more widely adopted, Google will change their stance to begin accepting responsible crypto advertising from legitimate Bitcoin businesses and reverse their decision," Spiers said.

The issue seems to stem further than just Google. Crypto-centric payments firm, Ripple, recently sued YouTube—a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet—after it was found to be promoting bogus XRP giveaways. The lawsuit challenges a section of the US communications decency act, which grants big tech immunity from liability arising from user material.

But just a week after the lawsuit, YouTube banned the real Ripple CTO David Schwartz, taking down his videos. They claimed he was impersonating someone else. Perhaps bots have become more convincing than real people.

This article has been updated with comments from CoinCorner.

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