Live 5 Scambusters: Rehab center has identity stolen through Google Maps

Live 5 Scambusters: Rehab center has identity stolen through Google Maps

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - When it comes to saving someone from addiction, every minute could precious. The Charleston Recovery Center says it got hit with an online scam that could be a life or death situation.

The Charleston Recovery Center is a rehab center off Ashley River Road in West Ashley. Up until early October, the center showed up in a simple search on Google Maps. That suddenly changed and director Ronnie Byers says scammers have stolen his business identity.

“They suspended our listing and whoever is doing this is good at it,” Byers said.

The Charleston Recovery Center was replaced by Charleston Recovery on Google Maps. The new location didn’t include an address, had a new phone number, and a link to a new website.

“Somebody else has now claimed my business and is using our reviews to misdirect clients to someplace else for money,” Byers said.

Byers turned to Blake Weisel with Peninsula Agency, who helps to create websites and search engine optimization for local businesses.

“Essentially they’re funneling all the leads that would have gone to the local Charleston Recovery Center into a national call center,” Weisel said.

Weisel said businesses can claim their listing and verify through Google. This secures the listing and protects the business or non-profit organizations from possible scams like this.

If you have an online listing and want to do this for your own business, you can go to google.com/business and follow the steps.

For Weisel, this scam is not just professional, it’s also personal.

“I know first hand how desperate you can feel when you’re in the midst of this, looking for help for a loved one,” Weisel said. “At a time like that, you don’t want to figure out who’s a scammer and who’s not.”

Byers believes every moment he and the Charleston Recovery Center are not available could be costing lives.

“While we’ve been speaking, somebody is trying to call and they’re calling that number,” Byers said.

When asked for a comment, Google sent this statement from a spokesperson:

“We’re looking into this issue. We take allegations of fraud very seriously. When an issue like this one is reported to us, we investigate the claims. Upon completion of the investigation, we take actions in line with our findings.”
Google Spokesperson

As of Wednesday morning, the real Charleston Recovery Center has been restored on Google Maps. You can also find the official website here.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.