CBS News Investigation Finds Fraudulent Court Orders Used To Change Google Search Results

A CBS News investigation found that some companies that are hired to make negative web pages disappear appear to be forging judges’ signatures to trick Google into changing its search results. From the report: One of the only ways to get Google to permanently remove a link from its search results is with a court order from a judge. CBS News sorted through thousands of these court orders and spotted small businesses from all across America trying to clean up their reputations. But we also spotted a problem: Dozens of the court documents were fakes. “It never even crossed my mind that people would have the guts to actually go out there and just forge a court document,” said Eugene Volokh, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in internet law. Volokh points out that forging a court document is criminal. “Part of it is just how brazen it is. They take a judge’s signature and they copy it from one order to another order and they pretend something is a court order. It’s cheaper and it’s faster — if they don’t get caught,” Volokh said.

CBS News worked with Volokh and identified more than 60 fraudulent court orders sent to Google. Some are obviously fake, like one with a case number of “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9.” Others are more sophisticated, and appear to be drawn from nine different federal courts across the country. The most recent fake court document we identified was submitted in April. It’s not just about making a bad review of a local restaurant disappear. CBS News uncovered bogus court documents submitted on behalf of two convicted criminals who wanted Google to forget about their crimes. Both were child sex offenders. Of the more than 60 phony documents, we found that 11 had signatures forged from judges in Hamilton County, Ohio.

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