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Google may have mistakenly approved an ad for a Target gift card scam

Google may have mistakenly approved an ad for a Target gift card scam

Most of us check our gift card balances online (because who really keeps those receipts that tell us how much money we've left on them?), making an apparent oversight by Google even worse. has made it. Is done. It appears that Google has inadvertently cleared a major ad for a fake Target gift card balance checker that has been purported to steal your funds.

A Reddit user from r/assholedesign discovered Slip-Up when searching Google for "Target Gift Card Balance" on mobile, and found that the first result was an ad titled "Check Gift Card Balance - Target", Target isn't the only site - it's actually a site called "Bristolhirevan". The ad's description says it will let you check your gift card balance "instantly" and it also offers "all van sizes to suit your needs" - how can you be more legitimate than that? My colleague Sean Hollister and I found the same fake ad searching ourselves for the exact phrase.

Well, while the site's name isn't convincing at all, its interface certainly looks like the real thing, although the actual Target site requires you to sign in to check your gift card balance. Is. Although this is not a fake site. Beyond that, the only things that stand out about the webpage are the URL, which still has the "bristolhireven" domain and the fact that every single link on the page leads to the actual target homepage, a weekly ad that promises to link to it. does. Despite or Gift Registry. If you were really in a hurry (and somehow distracted enough to ignore the mention of Vans), you might have accidentally entered your gift card number and security code here, resulting in It could be stolen. Is.

Gift card scams are on the rise. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that gift card scam victims lost a total of $148 million within the first nine months of 2021 – more than all of 2020. Target gift cards are clearly the card of choice for scammers, as FTC data shows people were duped last year with $35 million worth of Target gift cards, twice the amount of any other gift card brand. More than. is more.

As reported by the FTC, gift card scams often take place over the phone, in which the scammer pretends to be an employee of a company like Google or Amazon (or even someone from a federal agency) who is the victim. . Demands payment through gift card form. However, fake balance checker sites like this often disguise themselves - apparently in the form of ads on Google as well.

A 2020 report from Bleeping Computer draws attention to sites that impersonate Target gift card balance checker pages, noting that Target is actually one of the most popular sites for repeat scammers. The Verge reached out to Google with a request for comment about how the scam slipped through its ad review process, and whether it would be removed, but did not immediately hear back.

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