Google have been accused of fraud within their adsense advertising program for allegedly cancelling publisher accounts, ahead of payments. A class action lawsuit was filed Tuesday by law firm Hagens Berman.
Their filing cites an accusation recently spread online by an alleged former Google employee, who claims the search and advertising giant developed a fraud scheme beginning in 2009 to prevent certain publishers from collecting their owed revenue.
The anonymous posting on PasteBin.com says the employee received direct orders from management to implement “extreme quality control measures,” which boiled down to banning accounts for no justifiable reason, because they had earned over $5,000.
Bans would occur just prior to payouts says the “whistleblower”, so Google could reap full profits from advertisers and reverse the cut they were supposed to give to the publishers.
The case was filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California, on behalf of Free Range Content, the company behind the Repost.us website.
They claim that they were unfairly terminated from the Adsense program when they saw a spike in earnings in February. The site owners say they even contacted Google to make sure everything was above board, but were banned and stonewalled before any payment was made.
Google have not responded to the press regarding the lawsuit, but they have previously denied the testimony of the alleged employee; calling it a fake.
It is certainly true that the posting lacks specific names and supporting evidence and wouldn’t necessarily have any weight in court, without further proof.
However claims of unfair treatment towards Adsense publishers is nothing new. Google has a stringent click fraud policy, to detect people generating fake revenue by clicking on their own ads, using proxies to create fake clicks, and even paying others to do it for them.
But when a ban occurs, it is extremely difficult to get any supporting documentation about the offence and how it was detected. Many banned publishers protest their innocence and even point to analytics data to show that there was no suspicious activity on their sites.
People in this situation are encouraged to contact Hagens Berman to provide their evidence.
The Adsense program is responsible for a quarter of Google’s overall revenue, and they earned over $50 billion in 2013.