Yelp Sues To Take Down Paid Review Mill

Fake Yelp reviews First brought to our attention by The Daily Dot, Yelp has sued to terminate and collect damages from a site called BuyOnlineReviews.net. The site leads with Yelp but it promises to generate fake positive reviews for a range of local directories and social sites including Google +, Citysearch, InsiderPages, Local.com, SuperPages, Foursquare, Kudzu, YellowPages as well as Yelp.

Yelp has sued for a whole range of alleged illegal activities and violations. The company’s objective is to close the site and collect fees and damages.

Before the site is taken down — and it will be — you should look at it. Among other things it audaciously describes its Yelp “review filter”-beating methodology:

Each review will come from a unique IP address located in the city of your choice. We use only the best writers who are experienced at writing realistic reviews. The reviews will be leaked at random times to look natural. We guarantee that your online listing will remain safe and secure. If you have an empty listing and you have been trying to figure out how to get online reviews then this is the service for you. You can order as often and as many reviews as you like. We can send as many as you need without any problems. If you have bad online reviews use this package to drown them out and push them down where nobody will see them.

Each review is priced at the low-low price of $24.95. However, desperate or corrupt merchants are required buy a minimum of three, and can buy a seemingly unlimited number. The pull-down menu goes up to 100.

Fake yelp review site

The BuyOnlineReviews site is hiding in plain sight and treats what’s it’s doing in a very matter of fact way. Here are a few excerpts from its FAQs section for example:

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The site itself probably believes it’s doing nothing wrong otherwise it wouldn’t be so public. Regardless, if Yelp catches this kind behavior it puts a scarlet letter (“consumer alert“) on the business profile for 90 days, which may amount to a commercial kiss of death.

Yelp consumer alert

Yelp and the other sites affected have a huge incentive to try and wipe out these fake review mills to preserve consumer trust. Consumers choose Yelp because of the perceived integrity of its reviews, which would be severely compromised if review authenticity were called into question.

A recent BrightLocal survey found that “79 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (up from 72 percent in 2012).”

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Legal | Legal: General | Top News | Word Of Mouth Marketing | Yelp

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    And yet at least 1 academic study of consumer reviews estimated that up to 2/3 of them are already fake.

  • gregsterling

    If true that would be horrible

  • Sharon Moak

    I’m not surprised that owners pay for reviews. Yelp removes too many positive, legitimate reviews and leaves too many suspicious negative ones. Owners are trapped and helpless.

    Yelp refuses to filter a false review on my biz from a drunk customer who walked out on his ticket. The user has only 1 review & no profile. It should have been filtered organically. Then several witnesses flagged it as well but Yelp remains unresponsive.

    With that kind of inconsistent, unethical filtering that violates Yelp’s own guidelines and zero customer service, business owners will continue resorting to shady tactics to boost their ratings.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    I cannot vouch for the study, although it was cited in at least one news article I read recently. Fake reviews have been around since the 1990s.

  • Chris Ratchford

    Sharon is right on. Yelp is such a PITA. I can’t believe they are #2 in the review space.

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