Scam artists used Google brand to bilk victims, Feds say

An online marketer who lured consumers into a bogus work-at-home scheme that charged them hidden fees by masquerading as a Google company has been shut down by the Federal Trade Commission.

Under a settlement agreement with the FTC, the defendants, which did business under names such as "Google Money Tree," "Google Pro," and "Google Treasure Chest," are barred from making misleading or unsupported claims while marketing or selling any product or service, and have been forced to surrender cash and other assets exceeding $3.5 million.

The defendants also are forbidden from marketing products via "negative option" transactions ­– a classic marketing scheme in which companies use fine print to trick victims into unwittingly agreeing to pay for a product or service for which they are billed on a regular basis until they cancel.