How Google stops scammers from ripping you off in the Maps app


As the first quarter of 2023 comes to a close, Google released a blog post that points out how it relies on contributions from users to help the more than one billion monthly Google Maps users “navigate and explore the world.” These contributions include videos, ratings, and reviews. But Google says that scammers have been known to post fraudulent content in order to put money in their pockets. The company says it is fighting back using technology that keeps fake content from getting posted on its Maps app.
Google uses machine learning to help it discover patterns that might indicate fraudulent content. Last year, it updated this technology allowing it to find such fake content faster. “For example, our automated systems detected a sudden uptick in Business Profiles with websites that ended in .design or .top — something that would be difficult to spot manually across millions of profiles. Our team of analysts quickly confirmed that these websites were fake — and we were able to remove them and disable the associated accounts quickly,” Google wrote.

Scammers were caught trying to put fake numbers on contributed photos in Google Maps

Google also discovered that scammers were placing fake phone numbers on top of contributed photos in Google Maps. The goal was to get unsuspecting Maps users to call the fake number for a business instead of the legitimate number. You can see how this could lead to fraudulent credit card transactions that might be hard for those duped to challenge.

Google fought back by employing a machine learning tool that can analyze visual details to help recognize when a contributed photo contains a fake phone number overlaid on top. Using the machine learning tool, Google “blocked the vast majority of these fraudulent and policy-violating images before they were published.”

Last year Google blocked and removed 115 million reviews that violated company policies

Last year, Google blocked or removed more than 115 million reviews that violated company policies. Thanks to its updated models, that was a 20% increase compared to the number it took down in 2021. Also blocked and removed were 200 million photos and 7 million videos because they were low-quality, blurry, or violated Google’s content policies.

In 2021, scammers tried to post 12 million fake Business Profiles which Google was able to block. The number of fake Business Profiles that Google blocked last year rose to 20 million. Google also spotted suspicious activity surrounding more than 185,000 businesses which led it to put more protections in place.

Google also revealed that it filed a lawsuit that stopped a group of scammers that were impersonating Google by making fake telemarketing calls and attempting to sell fake online reviews. The company added “While we’ve made a lot of progress in this area, we know that scammers continue to evolve — and we will too. Our teams will continue working around the clock and investing in the latest technology to keep contributed content on Google Maps authentic, safe and reliable.”

The Google Maps app, as Google pointed out, is counted on by mobile device users to help take them safely from point “A” to point “B.” It also tells you where to eat, sleep, shop, and catch entertainment when users do get to “B.”

Google Maps is always evolving and has become a versatile and important app that some users rely on several times a day (anot just ride share drivers either). If you have an iPhone, you have the choice to use Apple Maps or Google Maps. If you don’t have the latter on your device, you can install it from the App Store by tapping on this link. For some reason if it is not on your Android phone, install it from the Google Play Store by clicking on this link.



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