Google+ Local hotel listings commandeered
For unknown reasons, more than 3,000 hotel Web site listings on Google+ Local now point to third-party booking sites.
Hotel Web site links in Google+ Local listings have been replaced by the thousands with fakes, according to a report on Tuesday.
Links that were supposed to lead directly to hotel Web sites now point to third-party booking sites. As frequent Google observer SearchEngine Land reported, URLs that were supposed to point legitimate hotel sites such as Marriott's Courtyard Los Angeles in Sherman Oaks were replaced by links to sites like courtyardmarriot.roomstobook.info. Another common URL change was to roomstobook.net. Both sites would redirect some visitors to HotelsWhiz.com.
Owners listed in public WhoIs records for roomstobook.info, roomstobook.net, and HotelsWhiz.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
More than 3,000 listings appear to have been affected, although Google said that they are aware of the Google+ Local listings problem and are in the process of fixing it.
Besides the obvious attempt to gain site traffic, it's not clear if there were more nefarious reasons for the hijackings. At the time of writing, there didn't appear to be any attempt to phish or otherwise steal customer data -- although that doesn't mean that it wasn't happening.