Con Artist Launched Google Sting for Feds
Set up fake websites illegally selling medications; firm allegedly helped
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 25, 2012 7:20 AM CST
In this Nov. 10, 2010 file photo, the company logo is displayed at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, file)

(Newser) – Last year, a federal sting against Google resulted in a record settlement—and at the heart of the operation was a convicted con man. Working with federal agents—and still wearing leg irons—David Whitaker set up a fake online pharmacy claiming to sell illegal drugs, and Google helped him advertise it, according to insider accounts obtained by the Wall Street Journal. In the end, the company paid $500 million to settle a key case that showed a "search engine can be held accountable as an accomplice," said a prosecutor.

Before he was arrested, Whitaker had run an online pharmacy selling drugs not available in the US without a prescription. After he told federal agents that Google had helped him advertise, they enlisted him in an operation to set up "blatantly illegal" websites pretending to sell prescription drugs under an alias, Whitaker said. "Google's employees were instrumental in bypassing policy regarding pharmacy verification." After agents had collected evidence against the company, they told Google that Whitaker's alias in the sting had died. In the end, Whitaker's sentence was cut from 65 years to six. Click through for the fascinating full story.
 

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