Fake Online Review Crackdown Leaves 19 Companies Paying $350,000 in Fines
September 24, 2013 7:12 AM
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Investigation found foreigners leaving positive reviews for places they had never been
Regulators in New York are expected to announce today one of the most comprehensive crackdowns on fake Internet reviews posted by companies online. The New York Times reports that agreements have been reached between the state of New York and 19 companies that will see them stop any misleading practices and pay a total of $350,000 in penalties.
The NYT reports that the investigation has lasted a year and has included companies that create fake reviews. Among the companies that are signing agreements include a charter bus operator, a teeth whitening service, laser hair removal chain, and an adult entertainment club. None of the companies were specifically named.
All the companies involved have placed fraudulent reviews on websites such as Google, Yahoo, Yahoo, and CitySearch. The investigation allegedly uncovered services posting fake reviews that have good a more significant impact on the life of duped users including fake reviews for dentists, lawyers, and an ultrasound clinic.
“What we’ve found is even worse than old-fashioned false advertising,” said Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. “When you look at a billboard, you can tell it’s a paid advertisement — but on Yelp or Citysearch, you assume you’re reading authentic consumer opinions, making this practice even more deceiving.”
Investigators posed as the owner of a yogurt shop in Brooklyn who claimed to be the victim of unfair online reviews. A reputation management firm was hired and investigators discovered foreign persons were leaving positive reviews for places they never been in countries that have never traveled to. The investigation found that these favorable reviews could be purchased for as little as one dollar each.
The investigation also found that companies charged with getting good reviews for clients also bribed customers to give good reviews with things such as $50 gift certificates. This investigation was specifically focused on New York, but could have wider implications around the country.
"This shows that fake reviews are a legitimate target of law enforcement,” said Aaron Schur, senior litigation counsel for Yelp.
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Only now a half brain shows up ??
9/25/2013 12:06:16 PM
LOL, article like this is hitting page finally, only took a decade of fake web sites posting bogus reviews to figure it out ?
Let me clarify 99.9999% of web sites abuse the bogus reviews rating scams in various ways. Even the so called legit reviews are way far from close to ever being legit.
Anyperson person at computer = as many or more then 10k+ reviews for a product or web site.
how can that be simple = the internet is full of 100's of free email services all over the globe for a decade or more now. a user, surfs internet, opens as many free e-mail accounts as possible. surfs to said review place using anonymous ip proxy web surfing so each time it gets a new unique ip address.
A person with 500+ review e-mail accounts can change the outcome of a product over a few legit reviews easy.
They use a database of reviews over 500k+ differently written reviews of various levels of good to bad, to scale it any way they choose.
Companies pay big bucks to persons under the table involved in these services. SO there bad product will sell more, or a low profile product will look higher profile with tons of users chiming about something only a couple items sold, even though 100's claim they bought one.
RE: Only now a half brain shows up ??
10/7/2013 5:00:03 AM
So is this why the xbox360 succeeded--despite it's horrible reliability? Is this why the Wii-U isn't suceeding in sales--even though its hardware is well suited to lowly 1080p gaming on a console?
It certainly must be why Apple continues to sell in droves...
"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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