Insurance firm buys MH17 Google keywords to promote life insurance

An Australian company has been caught using the Malaysia Airlines MH17 disaster to spruik life insurance policies.

The Victorian-based Lisa Group bought the Google keywords "Malaysia Airlines" just hours after the flight was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of 298 people, including 28 Australians.

"Is MH17 Malaysia Airlines tragedy a sign to consider life insurance?" its subsequent advertisements read above news stories in Google search results.

The company's website also carried the promotion.

"What a tragedy!" read a message that has since been removed.

"Up to 27 Australians were among 298 people on board a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet which was shot down over Ukraine with the loss of all on board.

"Is it another sign to consider life insurance? #PrayForMH17."

The head of the company said he was "flabbergasted" to discover the advertisements and had ordered their immediate removal.

Lisa Group director Warren Lazarus told Fairfax Media the company employed an overseas partner to manage its search engine and website marketing.

"As soon as I found out, I told them to remove it immediately," Mr Lazarus said.

“We apologise for any distress it has caused."

Mr Lazarus estimated the ads had only been shown for about 15 minutes before he was alerted by calls from clients.

"I was just flabbergasted," he said.

Mr Lazarus would not reveal the name of the overseas marketing partner or where it was based.

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