Donald Trump may have won the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, but one of his supporters was far less lucky. A pro-Trump spammer lost his legal battle with Google after the company sued him for registering a domain name that tricked users into thinking they were visiting the trusted search engine.
The suit from Google was filed against Vitaly Popov, a Russian spammer who caused problems for the search giant by registering the domain name ɢoogle.com—with a Latin version of the letter “G” heading the address.
Using the difficult to discern difference in the domain, Popov was able to trick users into visiting a landing page that is littered with sketchy popups, warning messages, and a fake login menu asking for a Windows username and password.
According to a complaint filed by Google, “the warning messages created by the landing page are fake, not associated with or genuinely put out by Microsoft Office and are designed to distribute malware and scareware, display unwanted pop-ups, and lure unsuspecting Internet users to divulge personal or sensitive information.
Popov also used the domain in a spamming scheme designed to spread pro-Trump messages through Google Analytics. He would use the ɢoogle.com domain to create referrals that looked as though they came from Google itself.
Of the messages he sent via Google’s web traffic monitoring service, man included messages supporting Donald Trump. The spam, sent in the lead up to the 2016 election, would also redirect to a domain that housed pro-Trump messages.