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Shakedowns To Fix Negative Online Reviews

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the pay-up dept.

Crime 179

First time accepted submitter unjedai writes "A company is putting horrible reviews of small business online, and then offering to improve the company's reputation and take the reviews off for a fraction of the cost that a real reputation improvement company would charge. Sierra West received a call from a 'reputation improvement company' telling them they had a negative review online and that the company would take the review offline if Sierra West paid $500. 'Of course when someone is offering $500 the day (the bad review) goes up seemed not legitimate.'"

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179 comments

It was only a matter of time (5, Insightful)

FirephoxRising (2033058) | about 2 years ago | (#41546809)

People and businesses value their online reputations, so these protection rackets were always going to come.

Re:It was only a matter of time (2)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#41546845)

Couldn't the company just forward the mail proposing the "deal" to the review site's admin, who will (hopefully) quickly catch on, especially if more than one business has similar complaints!

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41546889)

well, yeah.

but you could also forward such a mail even if the bad review was legitimate.

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#41546933)

In the case where the business is making this up, the review site would get a single such complaint.

In the other case, the review sites would get loads of such complaint, all containing mails with similar wording, from multiple businesses...

Data storage, data mining. (5, Interesting)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41547033)

The big problem with cyber crime is the lack of long-term storage of complaints. I got a scam email from Spain, claiming to be from a friend stranded in Madrid without a passport. I sent it on to the Guardia Civil. They sent me back a bunch of guidelines on not being scammed online.

Now, I didn't expect my single little failed fraud attempt to merit individual investigation. I had hoped that they would put it on file, and use it as supporting evidence for conspiracy in a larger case later on, but no-one tracks these things.

A group I frequent on Facebook was getting spammed for weeks by the same person advertising loans (in USD, in a group about a Scottish pub meetup). Every day, they'd get reported, and the message deleted. But even Facebook didn't seem to bother to track the individual complaints and spot the pattern.

So yes, review sites should be able to spot the pattern, but they won't. Because that costs money, and the internet is for cheapskates.

Re:Data storage, data mining. (2)

crossmr (957846) | about 2 years ago | (#41547241)

Facebook's abuse department is a joke. They have a policy against people using personal pages for business, in the last 8 months I've reported dozens of these.. 8 months later, not a single one has been deleted and all continue to spam various regional groups.

They have absolutely zero credibility when it comes to this kind of thing.

Re:Data storage, data mining. (5, Funny)

KiloByte (825081) | about 2 years ago | (#41547255)

They have absolutely zero credibility.

Fixed it for you.

Re:Data storage, data mining. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547283)

in the last 8 months I've reported dozens of these

I've never understood the "report meaningless shit to self-appointed authority" mentality. But I guess it goes some way to explaining why the Stasi were so successful.

Re:Data storage, data mining. (1)

geogob (569250) | about 2 years ago | (#41547411)

As long no one stands there to tell you if the explaination is correct or not, anything goes a long way explaining something you don't understand.

Re:Data storage, data mining. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41547445)

There used to be abuse@fbi.gov - but that's been ignored for almost a decade now.

Re:Data storage, data mining. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547631)

All of these messages you are reporting are coming from botnet pcs, there isn't much point in keeping a file on them since they change everyday, aren't linkable to their operators and aren't really permanently blockable too: they are just virus infected normal pcs.

So what should the police or Facebook do? The police will be noting the site/details the messages was directing you to, but not much else and Facebook might try blocking messages such as the one you reported, but then the spammer just changes the message and does it again.

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41547227)

Yes but as we have seen here its usually pretty easy to spot the difference between pissed off consumers and astroturf and shilling. If a company is providing shitty service? Well there will be plenty of people bitching, nothing in the world folks love more than to bitch, but if its just one or two and they have very similar language and tone and feel? Yeah probably written by the same guy or from a script.

As a small town retailer I know all about how a bad rep can bury you, but if you were to find every single person that had ever been unhappy with my work? you'd have one hand, maybe two hands to count them on if you were lucky. But if you wanted to talk to people that were perfectly happy with my work and wouldn't mind recommending me to friends and family and often do? I could fill up the local HS gym easily.

You will ALWAYS have a few customers that frankly you just can't please, such as the idiot that demanded I give him a new PC after he ignored everything I told him, removed ALL security features and antivirus and promptly installed malware, all because he simply refused to accept that Limewire didn't exist anymore. if you could find an .exe labeled "Limewire" on the net, even if the icon was a fricking Goatse, well that was proof that Limewire still existed and you were supposed to magically make Limewire work again. But it should be pretty easy to spot a "bad customer" and tell them from someone trolling for SEO cash.

Re:It was only a matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547375)

well, yeah.

but you could also forward such a mail even if the bad review was legitimate.

And any review site that doesn't manage to weed out the fraudulent reviews will be pretty useless. If I find a review site and it has a lot of reviews that I don't agree with then I'm not very likely to take that page serious, do I?
The targetted companies get this as a short term problem. For the review sites this is a long term problem that will kill them off if they don't do anything about it now.

Re:It was only a matter of time (2)

asdf7890 (1518587) | about 2 years ago | (#41546999)

You are banking on:

1. The site bothering to monitor its email with any regularity. Until they see your report, the fake review is still up where potential customers can see it.
2. The site taking your complaint at face value - you could be a genuinely bad business trying to silence genuine complaints by maknig shit up yourself. Until you can convince them of your case, the fake review may still be up where potential customers can see it. Conversly, if you made a genuine bad review it could go the other way and your views could be taken offline at the behest of the bad company until you prove them to be true so your warning won't reach potential customers.
3. The site carrying the bad review not being part of the scheme. Either through association by choice, by actually being the same people when you dig down to details, or by being coerced into co-operating with the criminals, the site could be taking a cut of the proceeds (or just being "protected" themselves).

So unfortunately that woudl not be a generally workable solution.

For reference, search for the many scandals over the years concerning the reviews on sites like TripAdviser, Yell, and their ilk.

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41547111)

RTFS: "Sierra West received a call from"

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41547427)

You could also forward the mail to the FBI, local law enforcement, and Help Me Howard at channel 7.

If your business is being harmed by the negative review, $500 is actually a good deal compared to waiting for any of those agencies to actually finish their coffee and get back to you.

I think the best way to sting them is in the payment process, pay with bad checks or on another tack, highly traceable instruments and pass the info along to law enforcement.

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546863)

So, at what point does something become owned just because someone else declares it "valuable"? How far will capitalists go?

The rounded corners are valuable, so belong to Apple.

The Lord's name is valuable, so belongs to Christians.

Re:It was only a matter of time (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41547129)

So, at what point does something become owned just because someone else declares it "valuable"? How far will capitalists go?

The rounded corners are valuable, so belong to Apple.

The Lord's name is valuable, so belongs to Christians.

No they nicked it from the Jews. There is also prior art in the Iron Age religions Edom (where yhvh was one of many Gods)

We have a word for this... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546815)

Seems like a fairly textbook case of libel.

Re:We have a word for this... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546917)

It's not merely libel, it's fraud, possibly extortion, and of course, ridiculously stupid.

One day, shortly after moving into an apartment complex, this guy I've never met knocks on my door and tells me my van has a flat tire, and that, oh, BTW, he works at a nearby tire repair place, and would be happy to fix it for me, all I have to do is bring it to the shop...

Oddly enough, I had driven it the day before, and the tire was fine when I left it. I happened to have an air-pump, so I inflated it, and it seemed to hold air, it hadn't been stabbed or anything, (happily) but someone let the air out, and this guy I'd never met just happened to know that the van was associated with the resident of my apartment... and he just happened to work at a place that fixes tires... anyway, I guess he was fucking retarded, or thought I was. Needless to say, I wouldn't have dreamed of taking the tire to this guy or his shop, because this ploy was really fucking obvious.

Similarly, this ploy is pathetic, and it's shocking anyone could be dumb enough to think that it would work. Sad.

Re:We have a word for this... (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#41547461)

It's not merely libel, it's fraud, possibly extortion, and of course, ridiculously stupid.

And, if you're seeking relief through the courts, good luck with the jurisdiction issues, response time, and general lack of connection to reality that is the justice system.

Re:We have a word for this... (0)

JustOK (667959) | about 2 years ago | (#41546989)

An open source text book?

The best way to deal with this (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546835)

This post was removed due to Dice content standards violations.

Re:The best way to deal with this (1, Interesting)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 2 years ago | (#41547035)

This post was removed due to Dice content standards violations.

What the heck? Has this been happening for real?

Re:The best way to deal with this (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547215)

Whoosh!

Re:The best way to deal with this (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | about 2 years ago | (#41547247)

Its not real, if they are removing posts it is being done quietly. On that note been a while since I saw that Golden Girls crap.

Re:The best way to deal with this (2, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41547343)

I'm pretty sure its not real. /. has only removed a few posts and those had to do with court orders if I remember right. I think it had something to do with the MPEG dvd encryption code.

Re:The best way to deal with this (2)

viking099 (70446) | about 2 years ago | (#41547437)

The only one I know of had to do with someone publishing the text of a Scientology exam manual. The CoS threatened to sue if it wasnt' removed, and they removed it, then posted a story about it, explaining what happened and why it was removed.

Re:The best way to deal with this (1)

dosius (230542) | about 2 years ago | (#41547471)

I thought it was the Operating Thetan 3 notes, the Xenu story.

-uso.

Re:The best way to deal with this (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 years ago | (#41547517)

I think it had something to do with the MPEG dvd encryption code.

In other news, the Pharaoh's vizier has informed us that henceforth all cats shall be rounded up and placed back in their respective containers... ;)

Re:The best way to deal with this (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 2 years ago | (#41547521)

So, which one was it then? Was it one of these that you can find on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ?

The Register gives the 1401-digit number as:[3][4]. It has the form kÂ2562 + 2083.
4 85650 78965 73978 29309 84189 46942 86137 70744 20873 51357 92401 96520 73668 69851 34010 47237 44696 87974 39926 11751 09737 77701 02744 75280 49058 83138 40375 49709 98790 96539 55227 01171 21570 25974 66699 32402 26834 59661 96060 34851 74249 77358 46851 88556 74570 25712 54749 99648 21941 84655 71008 41190 86259 71694 79707 99152 00486 67099 75923 59606 13207 25973 79799 36188 60631 69144 73588 30024 53369 72781 81391 47979 55513 39994 93948 82899 84691 78361 00182 59789 01031 60196 18350 34344 89568 70538 45208 53804 58424 15654 82488 93338 04747 58711 28339 59896 85223 25446 08408 97111 97712 76941 20795 86244 05471 61321 00500 64598 20176 96177 18094 78113 62200 27234 48272 24932 32595 47234 68800 29277 76497 90614 81298 40428 34572 01463 48968 54716 90823 54737 83566 19721 86224 96943 16227 16663 93905 54302 41564 73292 48552 48991 22573 94665 48627 14048 21171 38124 38821 77176 02984 12552 44647 44505 58346 28144 88335 63190 27253 19590 43928 38737 64073 91689 12579 24055 01562 08897 87163 37599 91078 87084 90815 90975 48019 28576 84519 88596 30532 38234 90558 09203 29996 03234 47114 07760 19847 16353 11617 13078 57608 48622 36370 28357 01049 61259 56818 46785 96533 31007 70179 91614 67447 25492 72833 48691 60006 47585 91746 27812 12690 07351 83092 41530 10630 28932 95665 84366 20008 00476 77896 79843 82090 79761 98594 93646 30938 05863 36721 46969 59750 27968 77120 57249 96666 98056 14533 82074 12031 59337 70309 94915 27469 18356 59376 21022 20068 12679 82734 45760 93802 03044 79122 77498 09179 55938 38712 10005 88766 68925 84487 00470 77255 24970 60444 65212 71304 04321 18261 01035 91186 47666 29638 58495 08744 84973 73476 86142 08805 29443.
[edit]The first illegal executable prime number

The following 1811-digit prime number (discovered by Phil Carmody) can represent a non-compressed i386 ELF that reads CSS-encrypted data and outputs the decrypted data.[5]
49310 83597 02850 19002 75777 67239 07649 57284 90777 21502 08632 08075 01840 97926 27885 09765 88645 57802 01366 00732 86795 44734 11283 17353 67831 20155 75359 81978 54505 48115 71939 34587 73300 38009 93261 95058 76452 50238 20408 11018 98850 42615 17657 99417 04250 88903 70291 19015 87003 04794 32826 07382 14695 41570 33022 79875 57681 89560 16240 30064 11151 69008 72879 83819 42582 71674 56477 48166 84347 92846 45809 29131 53186 00700 10043 35318 93631 93439 12948 60445 03709 91980 04770 94629 21558 18071 11691 53031 87628 84778 78354 15759 32891 09329 54473 50881 88246 54950 60005 01900 62747 05305 38116 42782 94267 47485 34965 25745 36815 11706 55028 19055 52656 22135 31463 10421 00866 28679 71144 46706 36692 19825 86158 11125 15556 50481 34207 68673 23407 65505 48591 08269 56266 69306 62367 99702 10481 23965 62518 00681 83236 53959 34839 56753 57557 53246 19023 48106 47009 87753 02795 61868 92925 38069 33052 04238 14996 99454 56945 77413 83356 89906 00587 08321 81270 48611 33682 02651 59051 66351 87402 90181 97693 93767 78529 28722 10955 04129 25792 57381 86605 84501 50552 50274 99477 18831 29310 45769 80909 15304 61335 94190 30258 81320 59322 77444 38525 50466 77902 45186 97062 62778 88919 79580 42306 57506 15669 83469 56177 97879 65920 16440 51939 96071 69811 12615 19561 02762 83233 98257 91423 32172 69614 43744 38105 64855 29348 87634 92103 09887 02878 74532 33132 53212 26786 33283 70279 25099 74996 94887 75936 91591 76445 88032 71838 47402 35933 02037 48885 06755 70658 79194 61134 19323 07814 85443 64543 75113 20709 86063 90746 41756 41216 35042 38800 29678 08558 67037 03875 09410 76982 11837 65499 20520 43682 55854 64228 85024 29963 32268 53691 24648 55000 75591 66402 47292 40716 45072 53196 74499 95294 48434 74190 21077 29606 82055 81309 23626 83798 79519 66199 79828 55258 87161 09613 65617 80745 66159 24886 60889 81645 68541 72136 29208 46656 27913 14784 66791 55096 51543 10113 53858 62081 96875 83688 35955 77893 91454 53935 68199 60988 08540 47659 07358 97289 89834 25047 12891 84162 65878 96821 85380 87956 27903 99786 29449 39760 54675 34821 25675 01215 17082 73710 76462 70712 46753 21024 83678 15940 00875 05452 54353 7.

I mean, you can't just make a claim like that and not show us what was removed.

Re:The best way to deal with this (1, Insightful)

CdBee (742846) | about 2 years ago | (#41547087)

If this is for real I think its time we all went and found a new place to post our views and engage in general geekery. I'll stand for a lot from slashdot but this was ALWAYS the place that stood up for the right to post, even against the Scientologists. Dice, if this is for real, I'm gone.

Re:The best way to deal with this (2, Insightful)

Tukz (664339) | about 2 years ago | (#41547103)

Hmm, it looks legit.

A quick Google search on /., found several of these messages.
Worrying.

Would like an "official" word on this.

Re:The best way to deal with this (3, Insightful)

beelsebob (529313) | about 2 years ago | (#41547121)

Because if a spammer wanted to make dice look bad, clearly they would only post one such message... Wait... no.

Re:The best way to deal with this (1)

rbrausse (1319883) | about 2 years ago | (#41547155)

wanted to make dice look bad

but all dice (with the possible exception of the ugly D100) are great!

Re:The best way to deal with this (5, Funny)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41547171)

This post was added due to Gullibility standards violations.

Re:The best way to deal with this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547433)

Where can I download a current copy of the gullibility standards? I'd like to ensure I don't contravene them again...

Re:The best way to deal with this (2)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#41547365)

Come on, man. This troll has been going on for weeks now. People just don't like the Dice owns slashdot so they post this shit.

If Dice were really removing posts, they'd be deleting them, not advertising to the world "We are censoring your discussions!" It boggles the mind the gullibility you and the GP share.

Not the first (2)

asdf7890 (1518587) | about 2 years ago | (#41546853)

I'm pretty sure I heared about this sort of thing happening many years ago, at least as far back in early years of this centurary. No one should be surprised that it is happening: it is basically a traditional protection racket like scheme. When-ever there is something of value to "protect" they will spring up sooner or later.

In fact I'm sure I read (probably here) about a case where someone traced the protection demand to a person in the same state and ended up in court for taking the law into his own hands (finding the perp and beating him to within in inch of his life, having first failed to get local law enforcement to do anything because they didn't understand what the crime actually was).

Re:Not the first (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41547387)

That should pass in court. Law enforcement isn't enforcing laws and behavior is detrimental to you.

Trip Advisor? (4, Interesting)

Zemran (3101) | about 2 years ago | (#41546859)

If you use Trip Advisor you will find that most of the reviews are generic as they are written by professionals. Good reviews are paid for and while the hotel etc. is at it they pay for negative reviews to be written about all their competitors. This is not something new.

I know of one guest house here that had a bad report on trip advisor about staff stealing from the guests before the guest house had even received any guests. They had just opened and had not done any business at all and there first review was fake.

Re:Trip Advisor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547315)

Would this not fall under libel?

Re:Trip Advisor? (2)

shilly (142940) | about 2 years ago | (#41547413)

I really doubt that "most reviews on TripAdvisor are generic". I've read reviews of maybe 30 places across three countries in the past year, and I've read a lot of shitty reviews but none has appeared to be even remotely generic / "professional". How about posting links to say 5 different reviews that you think are generic, so you can show what you say is true? Ought to be quick and easy to do if most reviews are generic.

Aha! (3, Funny)

dimeglio (456244) | about 2 years ago | (#41546871)

That might explain all the negative comments we see about Microsoft.

Re:Aha! (3, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41547147)

That might explain all the negative comments we see about Microsoft.

I'm still waiting for them to send me $500

Re:Aha! (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 years ago | (#41547421)

No. It explains the few pro-Microsoft posts, though.

Best Countermeasures (4, Interesting)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41546885)

1. Register your business withe the Better Business Bureau, the Jaycees, Consumer Reports, and Dun & Bradstreet. Prominently link to your ratings. People will take the aforementioned organization's word before some troll's on a crappy "review" site.

2. Report all such solicitations to your local prosecutor as an extortion attempt.

3. Order the crap sites like White Pages, Yellow Pages, etc. to un-list your business and state why (they suck).

4. Have a cold beer and relax.

Re:Best Countermeasures (1)

Ravadill (589248) | about 2 years ago | (#41547135)

The problem with step 1 is that the average person no longer trusts a major sites opinion any more than a crappy review site. If the result shows in Google's first page a lot of people will take this as meaning it is legitimate, and generally even one or two negative reviews can make people start to ignore the 100's of positive ones. That is what a lot of these review farming sites seem to rely on, and most seem to manage to be in the top 5 search results for a lot of products, usually by linking or copying several legit reviews as well as spamming their own.

Re:Best Countermeasures (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41547263)

That's why I suggest linking direct to the reputable sites on one's own web site, and proactively de-listing the junk like Yelp and Tripadvisor. No listing, no google hit.

Re:Best Countermeasures (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#41547225)

... Dun & Bradstreet ..

Who are well known for high pressure sales techniques trying to get you to buy "reports" fro them.

Re:Best Countermeasures (1)

some old guy (674482) | about 2 years ago | (#41547293)

They pedal reports because that's their business, in case you didn't know. Altruism doesn't enter into it. Everyone, including yourself, is out to sell something. It's a matter of reputation, accuracy, and reliability. To the best of my knowledge, neither Jeebus nor Mother Teresa run business reporting sites.

Re:Best Countermeasures (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 2 years ago | (#41547401)

They pedal reports because that's their business

Sure they peddle reports as part of their business. But there is a difference between advertising that you can buy reports from them, and them cold-calling you and trying to pressure you into buying a report. It is not the report that is scummy (although I have no idea if you actually get you monies worth) but the methodology used to sell it to you. Just google "Dun and Bradstreet scam" and see what you get

Re:Best Countermeasures (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547239)

You do realize that the BBB is a protection racket too, don't you? People who pay the BBB can make their complaints go away. People who don't will have a page @ the BBB's website prominently featuring complaint after complaint.

Wiring the money unsafe? (4, Informative)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 2 years ago | (#41546891)

When it comes to payment, a sure sign that it is a scam is when the business demands that you pay by wiring the money. If you wire money, it is not traceable or refundable, and it vanishes into the anonymous thief's pocket. So, always use credit cards or Pay-Pal, or something that offers protection. Only wire money if you absolutely, positively know the person to whom you are sending it.

Huh? Is that really how wire transfers are perceived in the United States?

In most of the civilized world, you can reverse a wire transfer if it turns out to be fraudulent (and if the fraudster hasn't withdrawn the money by then). And if he has the money withdrawn, you (or the police) now have at least his identity... Banks have an obligation to be positively sure about their customer's real-world identity before they open an account for them (the "know your customer" rule), as part of the regulations against money laundering.

There is a reason why most phishers use unwitting intermediaries ("money mules"): bank transfers are not anonymous for the receiver, and the receiver will be found out.

With Pay-Pal, on the other hand, you are at the whim of a company who isn't accountable to any banking rules (because it is not a bank), and who doesn't hesitate to confiscate or freeze account's contents if they believe you associated with somebody who associated with somebody who they believe defrauded them.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (4, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#41546929)

PayPal is a bank, in some countries (i.e. the EU), and regulated by appropriate financial services watchdogs. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be allowed to trade in those countries for very long as it would be nothing but an unregulated money laundering outfit.

That said, wire transfers are traceable, but that doesn't mean you get your money back. Credit cards, etc. have automatic, legally-backed payout when you mark a transaction as fraud, even if the fraudster has already withdrawn that money.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#41547187)

PayPal is a bank, in some countries (i.e. the EU), and regulated by appropriate financial services watchdogs. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be allowed to trade in those countries for very long as it would be nothing but an unregulated money laundering outfit.

That said, wire transfers are traceable, but that doesn't mean you get your money back. Credit cards, etc. have automatic, legally-backed payout when you mark a transaction as fraud, even if the fraudster has already withdrawn that money.

True, However to get the "Lowest common denominator" regulation in Europe they moved from the UK to Luxembourg.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (3, Informative)

danb35 (112739) | about 2 years ago | (#41546951)

I suspect the poster you're replying to is actually talking about the money transfer services like Western Union, not true bank wire transfers. Wire transfers have to go into a bank account, and the ownership of that bank account is known (by the receiving bank, at least, if not by the sender). They're not used very often in the U.S., though, because they tend to be expensive--$25 to send, and $15 to receive, seem to be common fees, though they can vary.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547039)

With this fees it is no wonder that the us still uses checks. In germany for most private accounts wire transfers are free and commercial accounts pay about 25c each transfer and i think it is the same for the whole eu.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41547107)

They're not used very often in the U.S., though, because they tend to be expensive--$25 to send, and $15 to receive, seem to be common fees, though they can vary.

I just paid $35 for receiving a wire transfer to my BOFA account. The bank's web page says they charge $16 for incoming wire transfers from abroad, and it really should be $0, because it was sent as a SWIFT transfer in USD, marked with "sending bank pays all charges".
Why the extra? There's apparently a "telex fee", even though no telex was in use.
Oh, and I don't even get a copy of the SWIFT with the payment details.

Thank goodness the money was sent in USD, because the rates that US banks give their customers on exchange are ridiculous.

Here in USA, we have the most antiquated bank system in the world; worse, even, than the UK one.
Heck, people here still use cheques, for cripes sake. And the cards banks issue can't be used in large parts of Europe, because they still rely on a magnetic strip, not a chip.
And we have the most clueless bankers too. They don't even understand terms like giro and loro.

But to compensate, it's seriously overpriced.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547205)

What’s “loro”? I tried to look this up, but only found stuff in Italian unrelated to banking.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (3, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41547415)

nostro = "our", meaning transfers or accounts (usu. in foreign currency) to accounts held elsewhere (usu. in foreign banks).
vostro = "their", meaning the same account seen from the opposite side of the fence.
loro = "their", meaning transfers or accounts (usu. in own currency) through a third party (intermediary) bank.

A loro transfer is the most common account/transfer method unless your bank actually has mutual accounts with the foreign bank.

A typical transfer from the US goes[*]:
sender
-> request to your bank's central office for a FX
-> debit of your account by main office
-> loro some big foreign bank here
-> nostro some big bank there
-> giro to account holder
and within a day, batched saldo (balance) adjustments between the banks

In contrast, a typical international transfer from pretty much anywhere else in the world is two or three steps.

[*]: Or rather, it doesn't unless you insist, because US banks tend to cut bank cheques so they can sit on the float for a week and take extra charges.

You can save a step and charges by picking a loro that can do direct deposit to the foreign account, or if you use a big bank, a nostro that doesn't require a third bank on the remote end. Of course, that means that your bank must be able to list what loro/nostro connections they have. And the bank employee either understand how transfers work, or be able to direct you to someone who does.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (1)

cbope (130292) | about 2 years ago | (#41547287)

You're lucky the US bank even knew what SWIFT was. A couple years ago I needed to transfer funds to my mom in the US. She lives in a small town but uses one of the major US banks. It took me over a week of emails and multiple calls to the bank to get the necessary information to make the transfer from a major European bank.

I make regular transfers to the US and it still amazes me that it takes ~8-10 calendar days for the funds of an ELECTRONIC transfer to show in the receiving account. The sending and receiving banks are always the same, so it's not as if they are unknown entities. Intra-bank transfers where I live are immediate, and inter-bank transfers are usually less than one working day.

And.... checks? Why the hell are you still using checks in the US? That went out of fashion here in the 80's. I rarely carry any cash, practically everything here can be paid for electronically including public transportation.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 2 years ago | (#41547405)

Because the US system is geared toward the EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) practice. EFT works really well between pretty much any US Financial entity, fast and usually free. Unless it is great deal of money or being deposited someone place like a brokerage, most institutions will make the funds immediate available, if you have any kind of existing relationship with them. Otherwise anything taking longer than 4 days to settle is pretty unusual.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#41547723)

You're lucky the US bank even knew what SWIFT was. A couple years ago I needed to transfer funds to my mom in the US. She lives in a small town but uses one of the major US banks. It took me over a week of emails and multiple calls to the bank to get the necessary information to make the transfer from a major European bank.

Hints for the next time:
Get your mother's account number and wire transfer routing number. The latter is usually not the same as the regular routing number.
Get the SWIFT address of your mother's bank's head office, unless they have a SWIFT address for transfers in USD.
When sending the money, insist on sending in USD, nostro your mother's banks head office, with both the routing number and account number specified.
Do not choose to pay the recipient's charges, because US banks will not honour that and will charge the recipient full charges regardless of whether they also get the mutually agreed-upon transfer fee from your bank. That's just free money for them.

IME, the transfer will only take minutes if done this way. Of course, the bank will likely sit on it until the next day before "clearing" it, despite it already being cleared by SWIFT. US banks are the worst float crooks in the world.

If sending in your own currency and without a routing number, even if through SWIFT, expect 3-4 days, and even more if they cut a cheque (no, I'm not kidding, alas).

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547367)

One of reasons we shoudl adapt bitcoins quickly.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547657)

They're not used very often in the U.S., though, because they tend to be expensive--$25 to send, and $15 to receive, seem to be common fees, though they can vary.

So the process of sending and receiving will cost $40 worth of wages, logistics and book-keeping ?
Is there some big warehouse where people travel down the shelves to fetch account books and use ink and quill to manually transcribe the transaction ?

Capitalism, Ho !

But relax, the invisible forces of the free market (tm) will rectify the situation soon.

Re:Wiring the money unsafe? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 2 years ago | (#41547091)

I wasn't really sure exactly what a "wire transfer" was -- to me, as a UK citizen, a bank-account-to-bank-account transfer is called a "bank transfer". I always assumed "wire transfer" was just Western Union and the like, but a quick look on wikipedia [wikipedia.org] tells me that they're both accepted under the umbrella of "wire transfer". I'll stick to "bank transfer" personally for a bank-to-bank action.

Obama's gonna do this after last night (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546897)

Get used to saying "President Romney".

Who uses Review sites? (3, Insightful)

hairyfish (1653411) | about 2 years ago | (#41546901)

I gave up on these sites years ago as soon as it became apparent they were all unreliable. Reviews are either gamed or posted by someone with completely different standards to me so carried no value. Just go check reviews of hotels you've been and compare with your own experience. None of them have any consistency.

Re:Who uses Review sites? (4, Informative)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#41547159)

This is why I appreciate sites like imdb.com [imdb.com] (films reviews), where you have to provide your cell phone number to which IMDB sends a SMS containing a code that you use to activate your reviewer and rater status.

Re:Who uses Review sites? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41547291)

Sounds like there is an opportunity for a company that an be the "Google Search" or "Amazon" of reviews. A company that works out a way to have high quality reviews without shills, frauds and idiots. And which is trusted to not boost or hide reviews based on protection racket ("advertising") money. (Ahem, Yelp.)

And the trick will be how to make money from it whilst remaining impartial. Any attempt to make money from the reviewed businesses will be looked on as being corrupt. Some businesses have made it work by making the public pay: Consumer Reports, Which? and The Michelin Guide. But they originated in the paper publishing era. It's more difficult to get payments for information on the internet.

And the cost will be high. Those successful examples have professional reviewers, and only review a relatively small number of products. A general business review site would need orders of magnitude more reviews. User reviews are cheap, but open to all the problems of shilling, fraud and idiots.

Re:Who uses Review sites? (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 2 years ago | (#41547571)

So there's an opportunity to create an difficult-to-start and unlikely-to-fund business, which would subsequently entail deailing with complaints about bad reviews every day? Sign me up!

Travel (5, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 2 years ago | (#41546903)

So there are honestly people out there who read reviews from people who may not have even bought the product and consider them true?

Personally, if I were TripAdvisor, Amazon, or whatever equivalent, it would be a requirement to have actually purchased the goods you're reviewing before being allowed to post a review.

One of the websites I use for hotels does just that - unless you've booked the hotel through them and stayed there you can't post a review. I don't think a reputation-destroying service would be a viable business model (even excluding legal complications) if you had to pay your competitors in order to post a bad review on them.

And, I pay no attention to the reviews. I pay attention to the responses, if any. If a site lists your hotel (presumably WITH your permission, or you'd ask for it to be removed) and you get a bad response, you should reply to it. Like on eBay, or in real life shops, it's not what the negative comments say, it's how you deal with those complaints that matters.

Nobody runs a hotel that has never received a complaint in its entire history. But there are lots of places that receive complaints and ignore them because they just don't care.

Re:Travel (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41547197)

Reputable companies are starting to do that. Both Newegg and Amazon now tag reviews with whether the person writing it actually bought the product. It's a nice feature, except to date there is no check box that says "Don't Show Unverified Reviews" that I've seen. It's easy to skip over the trolls, but it'd be even nicer if I didn't even have to see them.

Re:Travel (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 2 years ago | (#41547223)

Apple started doing it on the App Store after the first couple of months. If you haven't bought the app, you aren't allowed to review it. The quality of the reviews immediately improved.

Re:Travel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547249)

Not really.

Re:Travel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547211)

Responses can also be meaningless or misleading. Look at all the responses you get from companies on Newegg's site. They give a professional image, but when you hit a problem with one of these "caring" company, all the support they suggest people do turn out to be bogus, and there is not response despite numerous attempts to follow their response instructions.

Slashdot Smells (5, Funny)

telchine (719345) | about 2 years ago | (#41546919)

I went to Slashdot and the service was terrible. They treated me badly and I think they cloned my credit card.

Right, anyone know CmdrTaco's number?

Textbook RICO violation. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 years ago | (#41546927)

This is nothing more than a protection racket [wikipedia.org] . When the book gets slammed on them it's going to slam hard - assuming there's a judge out there with enough Internet competence to pull it off.

Re:Textbook RICO violation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41546957)

"..assuming there's a judge out there with enough Internet competence ..."

ROTFLMAO oh, man, don't do that, I spilled my coffee on my keyboard.

Re:Textbook RICO violation. (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | about 2 years ago | (#41547101)

There was a similar case in the UK a couple of years ago. A person opened a website to allow others to berate lawyers and there were many comments posted - mostly by nutjobs or ill-educated individuals who had been through the mangle of the judicial system and wanted to blame somebody.

The difficulty with the site is that the owner offered to delete the comments upon payment of £299 (around $500). If the purpose of the site was genuine (to allow complaints to be 'heard') why was it possible to take comments down? And what is to stop fake comments from being posted to attract further payment?

Fortunately for the solicitors in England and Wales, action was taken by the Law Society [bailii.org] and the owner of the site was forced to take the site down and suffer the consequences of poorly defended legal action.

That action was taken by the Law Society as the only option available to the libeled solicitors was to launch an individual libel claim. The owner of the site had to respond to such claims and didn't fair particularly well in these either, particularly when it was clear that he had offered to take the comments down for a payment (see paragraph 23) [bailii.org] .

Or course, the internet will find a way as sites do pop back up out of the court's jurisdiction [thelawyer.com]

Comment: There is merit in having an open forum for fair comment against a professional body and its members but it has to be regulated. Changes have recently occurred in the UK legal sector so that sanctions are now registered and it is possible to search against solicitors and see recent decisions [sra.org.uk] .

Your perp did it wrong, there's a safer way (4, Interesting)

tlambert (566799) | about 2 years ago | (#41547265)

The difficulty with the site is that the owner offered to delete the comments upon payment of £299 (around $500). If the purpose of the site was genuine (to allow complaints to be 'heard') why was it possible to take comments down? And what is to stop fake comments from being posted to attract further payment?

Fortunately for the solicitors in England and Wales, action was taken by the Law Society [bailii.org] and the owner of the site was forced to take the site down and suffer the consequences of poorly defended legal action.

That action was taken by the Law Society as the only option available to the libeled solicitors was to launch an individual libel claim. The owner of the site had to respond to such claims and didn't fair particularly well in these either, particularly when it was clear that he had offered to take the comments down for a payment (see paragraph 23) [bailii.org] .

The correct way to legally extort money is to call it an investigation and processing fee, rather than an offer to take the review down. The investigation will inevitably turn up the fact that the review was not submitted in good faith and/or by a nut job, and it will be taken down, which is what the lawyer wanted, but the investigation and processing fee in that case would be legitimate, even if the whole thing was automated or partially automated - there's no reason you wouldn't pay some broke college student 1-2% of the processing fee to actually perform an investigation process on a contract rather than a permanent employment basis, as piecework, in order to avoid actually becoming an employer, and as long as you paid your taxes, there's pretty much nothing to be done about it.

To avoid any appearance of impropriety whatsoever, you could also post positive reviews, and justify listing all negative reviews before positive ones on the basis that people in need of a lawyer would be best served by the review site by knowing as quickly as possible if the lawyer failed in a case similar to theirs -- so a lawyer with 100 reviews and a 96% positive rating would still have the 4 bad reviews listed before everything else that said good things, and that is what people would see first.

Taking this approach, $5 worth of investigation might not be enough, and even if it were, factually bad reviews would stick to a lawyer on the review site, which is maybe not a bad thing... it pretty much puts them in the same boat as trademark registration, where you have to zealously defend your trademark by spending money, only in this case, you pay the review site, rather than paying lawyers (perhaps adding some much needed symmetry to the universe in the process, but I digress...).

Note that I'm not recommending this as an honorable business model, but it's one that works pretty well for a couple of "review sites" here in the US, and in that case, even a libel case would have to name the original reviewer, rather than the site, as long as the site doesn't have employees posting the negative reviews in the first place (libel laws differ in the US, and astroturfing bad reviews in order to get people to pay for advertising is one of the techniques used by one of the putative review sites).

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547267)

... there is merit to having an open forum as long as it's censored....

Re:Textbook RICO violation. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41547451)

Doing stupid shit to piss off lawyers is pretty stupid.

Fictive Bureau of Reputations? (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#41546935)

I wonder if any of their staff are FBI. Just reminds me, you know, of certain strategies. I'm not implying anything though. I solemnly swear it.
- Yertle

yelp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547051)

isn't this exactly what yelp does?

Re:yelp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547183)

Yes, this is precisely their business model.

I posted a negative review of my own company on Yelp just to prove it, and within hours the phone started ringing.

I have the perfect person to call and fix this (2)

cvtan (752695) | about 2 years ago | (#41547065)

Hello. This is Rachael from Cardholder Associates. There is currently no problem with your credit account, but...

Not new (4, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | about 2 years ago | (#41547069)

It';s been proven that both Yelp and TripAdvisor will phone businesses moments after bad reviews are posted and offer to have them hidden for a large sum of money - Yelp in particular strongly denied this then were caught at it again a few weeks later

That's a nice store you got there. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41547177)

'be a shame if someone gave it a bad review.

Re:That's a nice store you got there. (1)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#41547213)

Nya, waddya say, nya? What's Franky gonna say when we tell'im ya don' want protection, nya?
Nya?
...nya?

trash websites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547185)

It really makes you wonder about how many people are using their brain. If they continuously read bad comments, people should realize they are on a trash web site and don't take valuable information from it.

don't believe reviews either way (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547217)

maybe back in the naive 90s you could believe an online review as honest but for the last decade at least everything on the internet has been some kind of sales pitch. viral marketing is totally out of control and this is the flip side of that as a sort of viral "anti-marketing". either way, on the internet you basically have to assume everything is some type of sales pitch.

Blackmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547397)

It sounds like blackmail to me. I believe that legal action can be taken against this company. Bad move on their part.

Re:Blackmail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547439)

Agreed

From TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547577)

"There are legitimate reputation improvement companies out there."

No, there aren't. What's legitimate about applying "poisoning the well"-strategies to mitigate the impact of negative reviews?

Of course, a negative review by Joe Blow may be factually incorrect and written by a troll or a moron with an axe to grind. Welcome to the Internet.

Yelp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41547645)

Yelp's business model is the same, so anyone posting a yelp review is just helping them scam other people.

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