Feeds

Fraud groups ding Bing for illicit pharmacy promos

9 of 10 drug ads flout US law

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Updated Microsoft's new search engine Bing is a haven for criminal enterprises operating unlawful online pharmacies, according to a report that estimates almost 90 percent of sponsored links advertising prescription drugs on the site are violating federal and state laws.

The report, jointly prepared by two groups that monitor websites for illegal advertising, spent the past month plugging search terms such as "xanax vicodin" into Bing to see what kind of advertisements would be returned. Their conclusion: 89.7 percent of them were placed by businesses that are flouting US laws. Of the 10 ads that the researchers studied in depth, none of them required a prescription as required by law, according to the authors, who went on to catalog a litany of other problems.

"It is important to emphasize that the ten advertisers analyzed in this report are not engaged in minor violations of pharmacy law," they wrote. "Rather, they are wholly fraudulent websites run, in most cases, by criminal networks. They sell unapproved or counterfeit drugs, including addictive medications, without any requirement of a prescription."

The researchers are from Knujon, a group whose name means "no junk" spelled backwards, and LegitScript, an organization that monitors and verifies websites selling prescription drugs. They ordered drugs from two of the 10 Bing advertisers and both companies sent what purported to be the advertised drugs with no proof of a prescription. The researchers tested a sample of a drug that one of the online pharmacies claimed was Cialis and found it was counterfeit.

Almost 24 hours after this article was first published, Microsoft issued a statement that said: "We take these claims very seriously and are currently investigating this issue." Microsoft guidelines clearly require online pharmacies advertising on Bing to adhere to US laws.

In many cases, the Bing ads lead to websites that are clearly operated by people violating laws forbidding the sale of drugs from countries such as India, Garth Bruen, one of the Knujon principals, told The Reg. And in other cases, the players were members of Russian organized crime gang. But even when the ads appeared to come from online pharmacies operating legally, users who clicked on the links were often directed to rogue sites that had no affiliation with the legitimate companies.

To be fair to Microsoft, it wouldn't be surprising to learn that Google and Yahoo are also running ads for online pharmacies that operate illegally. Stay tuned. Bruen says reports from other websites are coming soon. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
One HUNDRED FAMOUS LADIES exposed NUDE online
Celebrity women victimised as Apple iCloud accounts reportedly popped
Rubbish WPS config sees WiFi router keys popped in seconds
Another day, another way in to your home router
Goog says patch⁵⁰ your Chrome
64-bit browser loads cat vids FIFTEEN PERCENT faster!
NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails
Grab your popcorn: Subterfuge and slur disrupts election run up
HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat
'Sophisticated' spies, DIY tech and a TROLL ARMY – report
NIST to sysadmins: clean up your SSH mess
Too many keys, too badly managed
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
Attack flogged through shiny-clicky social media buttons
66,000 users popped by malicious Flash fudging add-on
New Snowden leak: How NSA shared 850-billion-plus metadata records
'Federated search' spaffed info all over Five Eyes chums
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?