When consumers read online reviews of products and businesses (such as Amazon), it is often difficult to determine which reviews are legitimate and whether they should trust the opinions they have recently read online.
Companies and marketers trying to post hundreds of fake online reviews with the intent to unfairly influence consumers’ purchasing decisions don’t help the situation.
Just this month, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), an independent non-agency government arm investigating alleged violations of consumer law, cracked down on Total SEO & Marketing Ltd. Online reviews from 2014-2015.
Total SEO firm arrested for fake reviews
During the study, the CMA found that search engine optimization (SEO) and online marketing firm Total SEO had completed hundreds of searches on behalf of 86 small businesses, ranging from auto dealers and mechanics to landscapers and other merchants. I mentioned I found you posted a review. , spread across 26 different his websites.
Total SEO cooperated with the CMA’s consumer law investigation to avoid financial penalties. However, the SEO firm has been ordered to remove the fake reviews it has already posted, and the CMA warns its client base about the company’s illegality in asking them to write reviews on its behalf. will suffer the additional humiliation of .
Nisha Arora, senior director of consumer affairs at CMA, said:
“Online reviews are becoming an increasingly valuable source of information as more than half of people in the UK rely on them when making a purchase. It can lead to the loss of valuable business.”
Back in the United States, in 2013, the New York Attorney General’s Office arrested 19 companies whose employees offered to create fake reviews by pretending to be the owner of a yogurt shop in Brooklyn. Online ranking. He identified 19 companies in the investigation that agreed to stop operating sites such as Yelp and were forced to pay fines of more than $350,000.
Authorities continue to warn businesses against unfair or misleading business practices, including misrepresenting themselves as consumers. These activities, they argue, harm both consumers and fair businesses. According to the CMA, UK companies found guilty of posting fake reviews could face heavy fines and even imprisonment for their directors.
Individuals who write and post fake online reviews or threaten and intimidate business owners and companies into posting negative reviews can also be in trouble. In October 2015, Amazon sued her 1,114 users who were identified during an investigation by company representatives who tried to purchase fake reviews from the gig site Fiverr.
Similarly, William Stanley (aka William Lawrence, William Davis, William Harris, Bill Stanley) was found guilty this year of threatening to write negative reviews and comments about Dallas-based merger and acquisition firm Generational. was convicted and sentenced to 37 months in prison. Stock unless he is paid.
The court also ordered Stanley, who was initially hired by the company for SEO services and reputation management, to pay $174,888 to the 12 victims.
“Search engine optimization firms, PR, and marketing agencies provide valuable services to businesses, but they must do so legally. We make it clear that posting fake reviews about is unacceptable,” Arora added.
Image: Small Business Trends