An investigation, carried out by the BBC, has found that search engine giant Google is profiting from PPC adverts that have been posted by illegal resellers of tickets for London 2012, according to an article published by Search Engine Watch.

Since the introduction of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006, the resale of tickets on an open market has become a criminal offence in the UK.

The BBC found a woman who had purchased tickets from a fake site, LiveOlympicTickets, which she found from an AdWords advert at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).

Google has since removed the adverts – as well as those for fake passports, identification cards and cannabis – and told the BBC: “The company keeps any money it might make from companies advertising illegal services before such adverts are removed.”

Any remaining links to illegal resellers are set to be removed – following a request by the police.

Google has previously been scrutinised for profiting off PPC marketing initiatives promoting the illegal sale of prescription and non-prescription drugs by Canadian pharmacies.

In a statement, Google commented on the issue: “We have a set of policies covering which ads can and cannot show on Google. These policies and guidelines are enforced by both automated systems and human beings. When we are informed of ads which break our policies, we investigate and remove them if appropriate.”

The statement added: “Our aim is to create a simple and efficient way for legitimate businesses to promote and sell their goods and services whilst protecting them and consumers from illicit activity.”

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