AdWord Express — not to be confused with Google’s AdWords Express — sent me a spam the other day touting their “exclusive top placement” service to put my site at the top of “ALL MAJOR SEARCH ENGINES.”
They actually guarantee that my site will appear above all other sites on every search engine for my selected keywords.
I knew, of course, that it was some sort of scam, but I was curious about exactly what the scam was. They never actually say it in so many words, but apparently their “service” is a browser-based plug-in that inserts an ad for your site at the very top of the page in your web browser.
They key point that they don’t tell you is that only people with their browser plug-in installed will see your ad. Here’s a screenshot of their home page:
The only way AdWord Express could be accomplishing that is with a browser plug-in. Google doesn’t sell ad space like that, and neither do any of the other major search engines.
And here’s a screenshot of their “Browser Upgrade” page:
They very cleverly don’t tell you anywhere that their “EXCLUSIVE TOP PLACEMENT” will only appear to people who install these browser plug-ins, but that’s obviously what they’re doing.
And here’s a screenshot of the status bar for installing the “Upgrade for Internet Explorer” and the “Upgrade for Firefox”:
See what’s going on there? The IE “upgrade” will run a program called “Upgrade.exe,” and who knows what that will do on your computer….. The Firefox “upgrade” will run “install_tb_XPI(),” which will install something to Firefox —The name suggests a plugin that displays a toolbar, but who really knows?
AdWordExpress is found at adwordexpress.com. They have a private registration through Network Solutions. I swear that the day I received their spam, they were at adwordexpress.net, but that domain now has a GoDaddy parking page. The two domains were registered on 10/4/11 and 10/6/11, just 2 days apart, so they’re probably the same people. It appears that perhaps GoDaddy has already detected their scam and deactivated their site. The .com is still live through Network Solutions, though.
Please…… don’t anyone fall for this scam. And whatever you do, do not install their “browser upgrades.”