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How Wannabe Youtuber Confuses Adwords with Adsense, Ends Up Owing Google $120,000

A 12-year-old boy from Spain who dreamed of becoming a popular YouTube entertainer and making lots of money online, signed up for Google’s Adwords promotion program instead of its Adsense revenue program and racked up €100,000 in debt.

Jose Javier, from the town of Torrevieja, in Spain’s Alicante province, dreamed of becoming rich and famous, like his favorite youtubers, so in August, he decided to set up his own YouTube account and register for Google’s lucrative revenue generation program. Only it appears he didn’t know anything about this digital tool, or even its exact name, because instead of opening an account with Adsense, he registered for Adwords, which instead of paying users ad revenue generated by traffic on their webpage or YouTube channel, charges them for promoting products or webpages on the internet. So instead of making money, he was spending it, and fast.

In order to register for Adwords, the wannabe youtuber used a bank account that his parents had set up for him to encourage him to save money. Because of the way that the advertising campaigns were set up in Adwords, advertising fees started piling up very fast, and the €2,000 originally available in the bank account evaporated in a matter of days. When the balance started showing up in the red, bank employees called Javier’s parents and told them that Google was attempting to charge the account for tens of thousands of dollars. The boy’s mother, Inma Quesada, told bank employees to block the transactions, but because Javier’s Adwords account was still active, his debt kept rising.

“I had no idea what my son had gotten himself into,” Quesada recently told Spanish newspaper El Pais. “He though he was making money, not spending it. He wanted to use the earnings to buy instruments for his band, and even told his friend that if they became rich, they would have a mansion.”

As the bills from Google reached €100,000, Quesada couldn’t wrap her head around how her son could have spent all that money, considering he had been banned from using the computer after the bank called her to say his account was €22,000 in the red. Now Google was trying to charge him for an extra €78,000. It was then that a computer expert accessed Javier’s computer and found that he had been using Adwords instead of Adsense.

In light of this revelation, the boy’s parents have contacted a lawyer to challenge Google in court. They are claiming that in spite of its stated age restrictions, Adwords only requested a bank account and his name in order to grant him access to an account.

“My son did not know what he was doing,” Quesada told El Pais. Now he has become the most famous kid in school and his mother is on national television. I ask him if he understands the possible consequences of his actions, but he doesn’t appear to comprehend the situation, he thinks nothing is going to happen. We are more realistic.”Luckily for Jose Javier and his family, it would appear that they will not be needing a lawyer to deal with Google. Yesterday morning, the company released this statement regarding the case: “We have analyzed this case and we haven’t received payment from this particular user. We will proceed to cancel the user’s pending AdWords balance. Many online services, including Google AdWords, have age restrictions policies in place. We know how important it is to keep the family environment safe on the Internet. That’s why parents have our Safety Center available.”

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