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How to identify and report fraud on Google Maps

Googler

Have you ever come across a place on Google Maps that doesn’t really exist? How about a place with incorrect details that look suspicious? These edits violate the Google My Business guidelines and Local Guides guidelines, and they’re considered fraud.

 

People post fraud on Google Maps for the sake of profit-generating scams, which hurt legitimate businesses and make Maps less useful for everyone. You can help fight spam by reporting violations.

 

 

Keyword stuffing Article (1).pngMaps listings with keywords in their address fields

 

 

.:: How do I identify fraud on Google Maps? Look for the following.

 

  • Businesses that list a P.O. Box, post office or virtual office as an address. A business needs to have a real-world address to be listed on Google Maps. Virtual offices and shared workspaces are acceptable if they’re staffed during typical business hours, but be aware that using these types of places as addresses is a popular fraud technique. P.O. Boxes are OK in countries where they are essential, such as Kenya and the U.A.E.
  • Online-only businesses. Online businesses that don’t meet customers face-to-face are not eligible to be on Maps.
  • Businesses that don’t exist. If a business is on Maps but it not real should be reported.
  • Businesses that use employees’ addresses. The scam here is to make it appear that the business has locations in places where it doesn’t actually operate. If you see a business that seems to be in a purely residential area, this might be the reason.
  • Keyword “stuffing.” If you see search terms “stuffed” into place names or address fields, that’s a sign of a fraudulent listing.
  • Fake websites or phone numbers. For example, a fraudulent hotel listing might include a hotel booking site instead of a site for an individual business. If a business’s site seems broken or distributes malware, that’s a sign of a fraudulent listing.
  • Business impersonators: Some people create fake listings for real businesses, such as national chains. If you think a listing might be fraudulent, check the brand’s official site to see its legitimate locations.
  • Reviews that point out abuse. Sometimes, people will notice a fraudulent listing and note it in a review.
  • Profanity. Sometimes, people will deface legitimate listings with edits that include foul language.
  • Illegal businesses: If a business is illegal where it operates, it can’t be on Google Maps.

 

.::How do I report fraud on Google Maps?

 

  1. Find the business on Google Maps
  2. Scroll down and select Suggest an edit
  3. Tap Place is permanently closed or has never existed
  4. Select Spam, fake or offensive as the reason
  5. Tap Submit

How to identify_spam_flow.pngReport the listing as spam flow

 

 

.::Reporting a Local Guide

If you've found a Local Guide contributing content or behaving in a way that seems to violate our policies or Local Guides program rules, let us know here on Connect—but be sure not to share that person's information publicly. Create a post about the issue and tag a Google Moderator. The team will reach out to you via private message with instructions on how to proceed further.

1,498 Comments
Level 8

I have come across spammers who upload irrelevant images with their company name, logo, or details, to other businesses' listings: for example UID [edit - redacted]. I have reported a few images as spam or not relevant to the listing individually, but this person is level 5 and has uploaded nearly 3,000 images generating 2.3 million views, so going to each listing and reporting the spam images one-by-one is not meaningful or feasible. I would like to report this person as a Local Guides spammer, but there's no such reporting option, as far as I can see. Have I missed the function to report the whole profile as opposed to individual images? If not, could such function be added?

Google Administrator

Hi there! There are a lot of checks in place to ensure high-quality and non-spammy contributions on Google Maps, but sometimes, we may miss a contribution or two. If you find a review or photo that you think violates our policies, you can use the 'flag as inappropriate' icon next to the contribution. A team of specialists will then check if it violates any of our policies (https://goo.gl/dsVNTC and https://goo.gl/dpAf4W) and will take appropriate action. In this case, since you've found a specific user, I will send you a private message with instructions on how to report this specific user so our team can look into this person's account and take any appropriate action, though we won't be able to share the final decision as we respect everyone's privacy. 

 

PS: Thank you for not sharing the individual's name in this public forum. :)

 
 
Level 9

hello @wasaweb 

you mail Local guides official mail with that id spam proof and details . all time i do this . you try this .

Level 8

Thanks, @TraciC! I will follow the instructions you've sent me.

Level 1

What would you do with spammers who pollute the maps?

Level 8

Hi @AndrewR,

. If you find any spammer on Maps, you can always flag the contribution. A team of specialists will receive it and they will review it.
 If you find a more serious situation, you can always tell us in private here on Connect.
Level 7

@Mahabub HasanM wrote:

hello @wasaweb 

you mail Local guides official mail with that id spam proof and details . all time i do this . you try this .




Where do I find the email address? 

Level 10
FrancisC wrote:

Where do I find the email address? 


Here you go : <REDACTED>

 
PS: Thank you for not sharing the individual's name in this public forum. :)
 
 
 
 

Level 7

Hey @wasaweb :) 

Imagine bumping into you here, and on this topic too! level 5 and has uploaded nearly 3,000 images generating 2.3 million views. Small fry! How about  17k photos and 58 million views? Hopefully they'll be removed and have some form of sanction placed on their account within 24 hours of my earlier report... 
Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 18.03.50.png

 

Level 8

@RupertW, I have to say that's quite impressive. I doubt anyone would manually upload so many images, so they must have managed to automate the posting process. Surely that many points should raise an internal flag!

Level 7

@wasaweb They've added only another 100 since that screenshot, but, they've managed to pick up another million views! I'm guessing they'd used some automation, as many of the businesses they've added them to have been given the same pic.  
currently:  17,355pics 59,236,737views... points 19,120

Level 5

Hi, 

Is there a more efficient way of reporting photo spamming in Google Maps?

 

In my area there is a user which is posting continuously the same photo on a lot (hundreds) of locations.

 

<INFORMATION REMOVED>

I reported a few photos but none of them were removed. 
I reported also the user but no action has been taken yet ...

Frankly I am surprised that Google "AI" can't notice this - the same photo posted by the same user several hundred times on different locations is an obvious spam!

 

Can this simple anti-spam feature be added? 

 I feel envy in a way ... using this trick the guy has now 794 points. A month ago, when I first noticed him he was at around 200. So this is in fact a very good strategy to collect Google Maps points. 

 

This is the photo - a car which does not have anything to do with any of the businesses / locations on which is posted:

<IMAGE REMOVED>

Level 10

@RupertW wrote:

...  
currently:  17,355pics 59,236,737views... points 19,120


Wow, I really need to get myself together in order to catch up! :-D

Level 6

Not exactly right but you can do the following:

 

From Google Maps

  1. Press the 'context menu' / three dot menu icon
  2. Press "report a problem with this image"
  3. Submit your report with "The photo is irrelevant to this business"

 

From Google Search

  1. Find the image
  2. Press the flag icon
  3. Submit your report with "The photo is irrelevant to this business"

D7UPfS

Level 8

Whilst you can do this, it doesn't seem to have any affect. It's frustrating when photos are of the wrong place and I have had a similar experience of someone posting the same photos of one IKEA for all others in the UK. Reporting it doesn't seem to help. There is another thread where it has been suggested that LGs should be able to delete irrelevant photos. I can see the down side to this but since LGs can mark a location as permanently closed I think it makes sense. 

Level 8
Level 7

@ConstantinC 794 points? Small fry! This spammer I've been watching and reported both with the app, and privately to an LG/SV engineer, who said they'd forward to the appropriate department, over a week ago, is picking up a million views a week on their 17,000+ stock photos added to local business listings! 

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 18.25.42.png

Level 9

Seriously google is having the artificial intelligence to identify that the photo is not relevant to that location or business and still the person is in level 5 of local guide.

 

Google Local Guide must Enable GeoTag and google must control the addition of Duplicate Photos. in same location and multiple locations .

Even i have seen Local guides with 3000 Points and 0 Photos review as Good , Nice , Wonderful etc   

My Profile I have contributed 2000 Plus Photos and 300 Plus Photosperes But i have only 1900 points

 

 

Dont think of this do what you can do . Contribute more help world see .

Google Administrator

Hi @ConstantinC. I have edited your post to remove the personal information of another user as we respect everyone's privacy and discourage the sharing of private information.

 

If you find a review or photo that you think violates our policies, you can use the 'flag as inappropriate' icon next to the contribution. A team of specialists will then check if it violates any of our policies (https://goo.gl/dsVNTC, https://goo.gl/G87xzJ) and will take appropriate action.

 

If you've found a specific Local Guide with activity you deem to be inappropriate, sharing their information with us privately (the information being a profile URL and an example of the activity) will allow us to look into it, though we will not be able to share our decision. If you do have a specific Local Guide you'd like the team to look into, let me know by tagging me in a response to this post and I'll send you a private message with information on how to share that information with the team. 

 

@varghese Regarding the photos you have uploaded, Local Guides receive 1 point per place they upload photos to, whether it's 10 photos or 1 photo. More information about points can be found in the Help Center.

 

 

Level 6

@ConstantinC wrote:

Hi, 

Is there a more efficient way of reporting photo spamming in Google Maps?

 

In my area there is a user which is posting continuously the same photo on a lot (hundreds) of locations.

 

<INFORMATION REMOVED>

I reported a few photos but none of them were removed. 
I reported also the user but no action has been taken yet ...

Frankly I am surprised that Google "AI" can't notice this - the same photo posted by the same user several hundred times on different locations is an obvious spam!

 

Can this simple anti-spam feature be added? 

 I feel envy in a way ... using this trick the guy has now 794 points. A month ago, when I first noticed him he was at around 200. So this is in fact a very good strategy to collect Google Maps points. 

 

This is the photo - a car which does not have anything to do with any of the businesses / locations on which is posted:

<IMAGE REMOVED>



We should report this type of spamers

Level 6

@ConstantinC wrote:

Hi, 

Is there a more efficient way of reporting photo spamming in Google Maps?

 

In my area there is a user which is posting continuously the same photo on a lot (hundreds) of locations.

 

<INFORMATION REMOVED>

I reported a few photos but none of them were removed. 
I reported also the user but no action has been taken yet ...

Frankly I am surprised that Google "AI" can't notice this - the same photo posted by the same user several hundred times on different locations is an obvious spam!

 

Can this simple anti-spam feature be added? 

 I feel envy in a way ... using this trick the guy has now 794 points. A month ago, when I first noticed him he was at around 200. So this is in fact a very good strategy to collect Google Maps points. 

 

This is the photo - a car which does not have anything to do with any of the businesses / locations on which is posted:

<IMAGE REMOVED>



We should report this type of spamers

Level 7

Hi @TraciC I was under the impression that JackieL had passed on my private report of this user more than a week ago. Though no action appears to have been taken, against what is obviously abuse. Over 100 photos have been added since the last screenshot shown above from yesterday. Latest photos added include locations in Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Czech republic, Belgium New Zealand, India and Kentucky USA! Though, the same photo was used for a number of those listings. 

If more than a week is normal for investigating such abuse, no need to get in touch. If you do require a link to the their maps profile, do get in touch!

Screen Shot 2016-11-04 at 19.07.11.png

 

Google Administrator

@RupertW If you've reported the issue to another Googler, I'm sure they have taken the necessary action. As I'm sure you are aware, it takes time to review cases. In this case, however, I'm happy to take the person's information privately to ensure their account is being reviewed. I'll reach out via private message. 

Level 5

Done, more than 20 times already!

Level 8

@TraciC I think that the terms for local Guides should cover the use of multiple pictures over large number of businesses. I have seen some LGs post three or four photos over hundreds of businesses gaining thousands of points and photo views, but most importantly degrading the quality of the business listings. For me this erodes the values of being an LG and Google seems very slow at reacting and should be able to detect that the usage is inappropriate. Imagine if every LG used an aerial photo of a city for every business in view, or a stock photo of a multinational company at all of its premises. 

 

In fairness one photo may relate to more than one business and I think that's fine to use it two or three times, but not hundreds or more. 

Level 8

How can i report the local guides who are spamming reviews?

Level 8

send an email with all details to <EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED BY MODERATOR> 

Level 8

Which specific E-Mali?

Level 10

Hi @WaweruM,

 

Replace "at" to "@", "dot" to "." and remove spaces between words and symbols.

Now you will get official email address of Local Guides team.

 

Level 8

Meaning i should send an EMail 

 

Okay Thanks

Dear !  simply Flag the review as inappropriate which you think inappropriate

Level 8

Okay thanks

Google Administrator

@SeatonBoy The Local Guides and Google Maps team looks into these reports and takes actions when necessary by removing the content that does not adhere to our policies and Local Guides from the program. As we respect everyone's privacy, we do not share the results or decisions from our investigations but encourage you to continue to submit those reports. We hope to improve the process for all.

Connect Moderator

Hi @WaweruM, if you mean spamming in Maps Reviews, read this conversation, from @TraciC

 

if you mean spamming in here (in connect), just use the report function:

Cattura1.JPG

from @TraciC

I did it many times, and the spam has been removed.

 

Normally, before to report, I ask to the spammer if they have posted it by mistake but, till now, I haven't got any answer from them

Level 8

Thanks for the help

Level 7

Still at it... Can't believe they haven't been kicked from LG's or had their photos and points deleted. He may have had some removed, but he has a few hundred more, than when I last looked and a few million more views. 

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 19.35.31.png

Level 8

Fake reviews can potentially become a huge problem - in case it already isn't - and jeopardise the credibility of the LocalGuides initiative as a whole. It shouldn't be impossible to find the obvious spammers very fast in algorithmic fashion; their reviewing profile is obviously just crazy compared to any (human) LG. Heavens, does it really take advanced AI to spot these guys?! Wouldn't think so.

Level 2

Hi @TraciC,

 

I came across a Local Guide user that I believe is posting spam reviews for locations in and around Oakland, CA. I have tried flagging individual reviews, but there are over 60 of them. Please let me know how to share this user's profile URL privately with your team. Thank you!

Level 2

@TraciC wrote:

@SeatonBoy The Local Guides and Google Maps team looks into these reports and takes actions when necessary by removing the content that does not adhere to our policies and Local Guides from the program. As we respect everyone's privacy, we do not share the results or decisions from our investigations but encourage you to continue to submit those reports. We hope to improve the process for all.



Urgent ! Client's Issue !!

Hi, 

I am reaching you out in behalf of my client. A local guide added inaccurate photos into my client's "my business" account. The place and the photos are completely mistaken. The local guide has also write down some political explanations and political comments under photos unrelated with the situation. The owner of company is really disturbed and uncomfortable because of this issue. None of them reflects the truth. My costumer stated that he complained but photos and comments has not been removed yet. This matter is negatively effecting my customer's company. The links and posts below are totally inaccurate and untrue. 

Kindly request from you to help and solve this problem. 

Waiting for your reply. Thanks in advance 

Best regards.

 

 

https://www.google.com.tr/search?q=my+campus+dil+okulu&oq=my+&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i60l3j69i65j69i57...,

 

 

 

 

https://www.google.com.tr/maps/uv?hl=tr&pb=!1s0x14b55f09ee5b6019:0x52ba27482279cb56!2m16!2m2!1i80!2i...

 

https://www.google.com.tr/maps/uv?hl=tr&pb=!1s0x14b55f09ee5b6019%3A0x52ba27482279cb56!2m16!2m2!1i80!...

 

https://www.google.com.tr/maps/uv?hl=tr&pb=!1s0x14b55f09ee5b6019%3A0x52ba27482279cb56!2m16!2m2!1i80!...

 

https://www.google.com.tr/maps/uv?hl=tr&pb=!1s0x14b55f09ee5b6019%3A0x52ba27482279cb56!2m16!2m2!1i80!...

 
 
Level 8

@TraciC I feel really disappointed that after a month the reports that I have made haven't been actioned. It may be that Google didn't agree but I feel that one LG adding three photos to hundreds of businesses in one city is degrading the reason to be a LG. It degrades the quality of other LGs hard work and it reduces the quality of maps as an app. If every LG did the same there would be hundreds of irrelevant photos for every business. If I took a picture of a plate of food and added it to every restaurant in a town it is the same as adding the same generic photo. Google needs to be much more efficient at this or to expand the ability of some LGs to deal with this.

Level 7

The one I reported over 6 weeks ago, via two different routes (emailing the address supplied, and also via PM with a googler here), is still ramping up photos, views and points. Several hundred photos and points in the last couple of weeks, and an additional 4 millions views... Disappointed isn't a strong enough word to describe my response to this inaction... 

 

Screen Shot 2016-12-04 at 14.48.24.png

 

from 20-21/11/16 - October.... 

Screen Shot 2016-11-21 at 19.35.31.pngScreen Shot 2016-11-03 at 18.25.42.pngScreen Shot 2016-10-27 at 18.03.50.png

Level 5

How can I efficiently report a user who is continuously uploading the same picture at different places all over the world in order to earn local guides points? I have reported the pictures on Google Maps several times but nothing happened.

Thank you

Connect Moderator

Hi @AilínE,

 

You can create a post here saying "I want to report a Spammer, please contact me.", but please do not include any personal details in the public post.

 

It is better if you can tag/mention one of our Google Moderators in the post also.

 

Our Google Moderators then will contact you so that you can send the Spammer details via private communication channels.

 

Please  be noted that Google seldom, if not never, communicate back to you the result of your report.  And do not expect fast actions as reviewing Spammer activities is a serious process and it takes time.

Connect Moderator

 Look at the map entry for  Godfreys Parkdale

https://goo.gl/maps/vecHV7XPgsF2

look at the photos, look for the blue car then look at the profile of Simon he's posting lots of pics of his own car and kids on all sorts of places.

I tried to find a way to report the profile itself but can't see how?

Connect Moderator
Pea Level 8
Level 8
Connect Moderator

Thank you for the feedback, @Pea

 

Both links worked for me.

 

Link fixed.

Pea Level 8
Level 8

For me your link produces an error page

 

An Unexpected Error has occurred.
  • Your request failed. Please contact your system administrator and provide the date and time you received the error and this Exception ID: 105BC8A5.

    Click your browser's Back button to continue.

Connect Moderator

Thank you again, @Pea.

 

Updated.