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How Scammers Turn Google Maps Into Fantasy Land

It sounds like the beginning of a joke: What do a locksmith and the U.S. Secret Service have in common? The punch line, in this case, is “a Google Maps problem.”

Last month a Seattle techie named Bryan Seely—who is also, as it happens, into stand-up comedy—pulled off a gag to demonstrate the unintended consequences of Google’s lax oversight of its map service. Seely’s method involved setting up a fake listing for a Secret Service office. Loopholes in Google’s systems allow scammers to divert traffic from local services such as locksmiths, he says, and the problem has been around for years.