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Google hit by class action lawsuit over claimed AdSense fraud

Serial suer takes on the Chocolate Factory again

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A class action lawsuit has been filed against Google over allegations by a claimed former employee that the Chocolate Factory is defrauding users of its AdSense platform.

The legal action, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday, claims that Google knowingly canceled the AdSense accounts of customers so that it wouldn't have to pay out any revenues from internet users' clicks.

"This wrongful practice has sparked numerous bitter complaints from website owners across the Web, with some reporting losses reaching thousands of dollars a pop," said Steve Berman, attorney representing consumers and founding partner of law firm Hagens Berman.

"What we believe to be true from our research is that Google's practice is likely hurting thousands of website owners and operators who feel they have no way to fight a giant company like Google."

The lawsuit mirrors allegations made online in April by a claimed former employee of Google who asserted that the Chocolate Factory has a huge system in place to systematically defraud AdSense users. The posting claims that the program has been in place since 2009 and also involved monkeying about with Google analytics data.

At the time, the head of Google's Webspam team, Matt Cutts, called the claims "complete BS" and "a conspiracy-laden fake." He said that the claims had been investigated and there was no truth to them.

No Google employees are mentioned in the lawsuit. Instead, the class action was filed on behalf of a California firm, Free Range Content, Inc. The firm claims it was done out of $40,000 in fees when Google pulled the plug on its account.

Google has yet to respond to a request for comment on the suit. But based on Friday's truce with Apple, the online ad-slinger should have a lot of lawyers with time on their hands to look into this.

This is the second lawsuit this month filed by Hagens Berman against Google. At the start of May it sued the Chocolate Factory for making Google Search the standard on Android handsets, which the law firm claims means Google is monopolizing its position and driving up Android phone prices. ®

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