Fraud aided and abetted by Google
A quote from the WSJ the summer of 2011 (8/24/11) says “In a rare public mea culpa, Google Inc. agreed to pay $500 million to avoid Justice Department prosecution on charges that it knowingly accepted illegal advertisements from “fake” (might actually be in India or Ukraine) Canadian online pharmaceutical drugstores.”
Many of the drugs in question are “controlled” substances, not available in the US without a prescription. Part of the settlement includes the agreement that Google will not admit any criminal liability, but they are admitting in hindsight that it was not a good idea.
This $500 million settlement is one of the largest forfeitures ever paid by a US company. Since 2009, when Google became aware of the Government investigation, they now have third party vendors to screen out the rogue pharmacies.
The government used a sting operation that included David Whitaker, a convicted con man who posed as the fictitious Jason Corriente. Whitaker bypassed Google’s automated advertising system and actually transacted business with Google flesh-and-blood ad executives. Federal Agents created a website to sell HGH and steroids. The Google ad executives helped Whitaker find a way around the rules Google had in place, according to Whitaker’s account.
By the end of the sting operation, government agents were buying ads for websites pretending to sell oxycotin and hydrocodone, both prescription-only narcotics.
For his “rather extraordinary” assistance and cooperation, Whitaker, who had pleaded guilty and was subject to a 65-year sentence, was sentenced to six years and will be released in 2014.