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Brooklyn Yogurt Shop Sting Snares Fake Reviewers For NY Attorney General

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,28 days | from the believe-nothing dept.

Crime 168

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Reuters reports that nineteen companies caught writing fake reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local and CitySearch have been snared in a year-long sting operation by the New York Attorney General and will pay $350,000 in penalties. The Attorney General's office set up a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn, New York, and sought help from firms that specialize in boosting online search results to combat negative reviews. Search optimization companies offered to post fake reviews of the yogurt shop, created online profiles, and paid as little as $1 per review to freelance writers in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe. To avoid detection the companies used 'advanced IP spoofing techniques' to hide their true identities. 'This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution,' said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. 'More than 100 million visitors come to Yelp each month, making it critical that Yelp protect the integrity of its content,' said Aaron Schur, Yelp's Senior Litigation Counsel."

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Yelp is junk (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932811)

Yelp is a crappy site that blackmails you into paying them for promotion of positive reviews and removal of negative reviews.

Re:Yelp is junk (2)

RevWaldo (1186281) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934251)

I am shocked - shocked! - to find that gambling is going on in here!

.

Well done! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932823)

I clap my hands. Only question is - how did they found out who was paying for crimes?

Re:Well done! (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933375)

Oh Come on! It's in the fucking summary...you didn't even have to click the link!

The Attorney General's office set up a fake yogurt shop in Brooklyn, New York, and sought help from firms that specialize in boosting online search results to combat negative reviews. Search optimization companies offered to post fake reviews of the yogurt shop, created online profiles, and paid as little as $1 per review to freelance writers in the Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe.

Re:Well done! (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936857)

You read the summary???

..as little? (4, Interesting)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932827)

that's huge money for such little work. especially in countries like bangladesh.

Re:..as little? (3, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932839)

Depends on your perspective. If your perspective is a Bangladesh worker, it's huge. If your cost perspective is an American spender, it's tiny. This article is written for first-world readers, so $1 is tiny.

Re:..as little? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932885)

I disagree. When I was "between jobs" not too long ago I couldn't even get a minimum wage job as a cashier. I found work delivering newspaper advertisers and such for pennies. I did online surveys constantly and made less than $100/month from that. Even now that I'm back to a full time middle class job, I'd gladly do paid reviews for $1 each.

Re:..as little? (4, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932935)

Again, the perspective of $1 being tiny is from the American *spender*, which would be a business. Most businesses would likely consider it a marketing expense, so they could get 300 reviews for the same cost as printing brochures and it will likely have a much bigger impact than brochures.

Re:..as little? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934365)

Thank you for that valuable insight, "some people think $1 is a lot, some don't, depends where you live." An astute observation that may have been missed by other readers...

Re:..as little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932865)

You'd have to know English to do it though, which assumes a certain level of education in Bangladesh.

Re:..as little? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932915)

Outside of the US, bilingualism is pretty common in many countries. Not sure if Bangladesh would number among them, but it's pretty likely that a sizable enough portion of the population would be able to get by well enough for online reviews with Google translate able to fill in the blanks for them.

Re:..as little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932967)

You can usually tell those English as a Second Language reviews. Of course fake reviews are usually easy to spot anyway. It is sort of funny that Gartner says 15% of online reviews will be fake by 2014 - 2015. Over 15% of online reviews are fake NOW.

Re:..as little? (1)

oPless (63249) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933295)

Gartner is supposed to be into market research.

In reality they're nothing more than shills and bad "futurists" that Managers believe.

Re: ..as little? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44935005)

I heard that they are changing their name to Wolfram and Hart, and is going to open a law firm in LA.

Re:..as little? (3, Funny)

StrangeBrew (769203) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934613)

How do they have time to create these reviews? Aren't they too busy calling me up as representatives of Microsoft, telling me that they've detected a virus on my computer?

Re:..as little? (5, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932987)

Yeah, but the review can't be in typical bilingual "English": "The yogurts are very nice in these establishment. I hunger for yogurts from such good flavours."

The reviews would read like a Nigerian email scam.

Re:..as little? (3, Informative)

digitalchinky (650880) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932963)

Nope, no money for a huge amount of work. This has been a growing industry here in the Philippines for at least the last 5 years. Google "sulit money from home" and you'll get an inkling of how popular it is. Most people get burned, promised a few thousand USD per month, never see a cent, and the only contact info they have is a cellphone number that is no longer in service. The majority of these businesses require an upfront 'starters' fee, usually somewhere around $50 to $100 USD - crazy, feeds and scams off the gullible at both ends. It brings a lot of money in to the country, so it won't stop any time soon.

Change review (2)

phorm (591458) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935193)

So with that in mind, how about they change their reviews to:
  I was paid to write good review by [sleazy marketing co], but they are evil and never sent me any money.

Re:Change review (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936769)

So with that in mind, how about they change their reviews to:
    I was paid to write good review by [sleazy marketing co], but they are evil and never sent me any money.

Then [sleazy marketing co]'s other stooges report the review as being against guidelines, and it is removed. Better to just flip the meaning. Change a good review to a bad one, or vice versa. Make it sound believable. Of course, that's just more work, and for no money...

Dark Helmet's review (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932833)

"Yogurt! Yogurt! I hate Yogurt! Even with strawberries."

Re:Dark Helmet's review (4, Funny)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932881)

Yoghurt? Probably it's based on the movie "Lahsi come home"

Re:Dark Helmet's review (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933717)

Lahsi? I think you're mangoing my intent here.

Re:Dark Helmet's review (1)

idontgno (624372) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934559)

Mongo? Santa Maria!

Re:Dark Helmet's review (4, Funny)

auric_dude (610172) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932969)

All part of the ever growing culture of yogurt reviews.

Re:Dark Helmet's review (1)

plover (150551) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933459)

My idea of culture hangs on the wall at a museum, not growing in a cup on my table.

Re:Dark Helmet's review (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934823)

For some reason the wording of your comment just reminded me I brought a yogurt to work and then left it in the cup holder of my car. Thank you.

Can't trust Internet comments?! (5, Funny)

The_Star_Child (2660919) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932837)

What has the world come to?!

Re:Can't trust Internet comments?! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932943)

So, it has come to this...

Re:Can't trust Internet comments?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932977)

We ran out of cat food as well...

Re:Can't trust Internet comments?! (1)

cjjjer (530715) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934035)

I don't believe you...

wouldn't that be yelps problem? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932843)

it seems to me, if yelp is interested in preserving it's value to customers, part of that would be preventing fake reviews. why would we get our legal system involved? not to mention - when did it become illegal to lie on the internet...or conversly - when did the internet become even close to being legitimate enough that you need the legal system to protect it's truthfulness?

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (4, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932851)

Probably around the time billions of sales dollars a year are highly influenced by online reviews, articles, etc. It's always been illegal to lie online if the lying falls under libel or slander laws, as well as fraud, false advertising, etc.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (5, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932893)

Yet, oddly enough, paying yelp to remove negative reviews doesn't seem to fall under those headers.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (2, Informative)

kamapuaa (555446) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936637)

It's a myth. Negative yelp reviews will often stay there, no matter the company. 5 years ago or so these accusations were being made, it seems some Yelp salesmen were making unwarranted claims that advertising would make their negative reviews go away. So Yelp made their filtered reviews publicly available.

Sorry to stand up for the big guys and obviously there is some fraud going on, but "pay yelp to get rid of negative reviews" isn't one of them.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933135)

I don't want my tax money spent on policing Yelp reviews.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (1)

BVis (267028) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934023)

I'll pay you back. Where would you like me to send my 1.5 cents?

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (2)

JuicyBrain (977451) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936597)

Reuters reports that nineteen companies caught writing fake reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local and CitySearch have been snared in a year-long sting operation by the New York Attorney General and will pay $350,000 in penalties

I don't know how much it cost in man-hours, but 19 * 350 000$ (6 650 000$) is a lot of money. I wouldn't be surprised if they recouped their investment and more...

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933407)

Libel and slander only come into play if your posting negative information, and that information has to be incorrect (at least in theory). You might be able to make a case that this is false advertising but that would be a pretty big stretch. In any case its not "illegal" per say, but is something that gives you grounds to sue for monetary/punitive damages.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934357)

"deceptive practices" most states have something like this and fake reviews on yelp would easily fall into this category.

http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/45/6/45-6-317.htm

(b) makes or directs another to make a false or deceptive statement addressed to the public or any person for the purpose of promoting or procuring the sale of property or services;

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (1)

jd.schmidt (919212) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936485)

Wait, IANAL but. Under Slander and Libel you have to show harm. False advertising is prosmising something you don't deliver on. Opinions that "these are the best waffles in the world" and "my salesman was the nicest and most helpful person ever" have never been an issue because they are opinion. Heck resturants advertise the best waffles in the world all the time, and since it can't be objectively proven...

So again what is the exact crime, breaking Yelp's TOS?

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936549)

IANAL, which is why I included the "etc" because I don't know all the legal ins and outs of those various laws. I would imagine it would fall under something like misleading the consumer because you're purporting to be another customer giving the review, not the company advertising its own product.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932853)

Not to reply to my own post, but the article even says:

"This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution."

Did anyone not assume that was the case to begin with?

Next they will be tracking down and arresting the people on catfish. Seriously - consider the source. Anyone can post anything on the internet, it might not even be true.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (2)

Salgak1 (20136) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932919)

So.... if they're investigating large-scale, intentional deceit. . .

. . . .shouldn't they be investigating Albany and Washington DC ???

Re:false expectations/incorrect data (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933425)

Anyone can post anything on the internet, it might not even be true. Whilst perusing the summary, I was misled into thinking that TFA was linked at reuters [reuters.com] . But it turns out that I just burned up another instance of the NYT from my monthly allotment. I never get used to it. silly me.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (1)

Trepidity (597) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932995)

Given how broadly the computer-crime laws are written, they're lucky they didn't get thrown in jail for that "advanced IP spoofing"...

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (2)

MightyYar (622222) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933009)

Seems like pretty straightforward fraud to me, and in addition it probably violates many consumer protection statutes. Besides, it's the NY Attorney General, not the federal government. People in NY like this kind of action from the Attorney General... it's what gets them elected.

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933047)

I doubt the internet has much to do with it, it's false advertising which is equally illegal in meatspace, isn't it?

Re:wouldn't that be yelps problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934305)

It's false and misleading advertising and that's what got them into trouble.

As to reviews of places, I don't use sites like Yelp, Angies List (you do know she's under investigation to - possible Tax Evasion to boot) or others. I take most reviews with a grain or more of salt after Consumer Reports tried to show that the Suziki Samuri 4x4 was unsafe.

Anyone remember those units they mounted to prevent the vehicle from rolling over followed by the manuevers to cause it to roll up onto them? Those levers were over eight feet long and weighed a 100 pounds/45Kg each (200#/90Kg a side). Tell me that thing wont roll at 20 mph with the center of gravity raised that much. Hell put em on a comparable Jeep CJ 5/7 of the time (80's) and see what in hell happens. That's when Consumer Reports lost my trust. Now if they'd done it as an educational effort and compared several models of 4x4, I'd still be willing to trust them somewhat but they shot themselves in the foot with the full out biased against a Japanese company that had been producing a 4x4 for the same length of time as the Jeep.

Fast Turtle - Posting AC due to mods

What's a Yelp? (0, Flamebait)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932861)

I've never used their services. Are they somehow relevant somewhere?

Re:What's a Yelp? (4, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932871)

I've never used your services. Are you somehow relevant somewhere?

Re: What's a Yelp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932901)

That's funny, your mum used my services last night

Re: What's a Yelp? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932937)

Did she yelp?

Re: What's a Yelp? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934131)

Where are my mod points?!

Re: What's a Yelp? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933001)

Yeah, but she gave you a terrible review afterwards.

Re:What's a Yelp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932887)

More relevant than Slashdot is about anything. And more relevant than anything you have to say about them.

Re:What's a Yelp? (1)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933077)

More relevant than Slashdot is about anything.

I wouldn't go quite that far. MS pay astroturfers to post on Slashdot too, so it must be relevant to something. I haven't noticed any for a while, mind you.. but then again, I haven't been reading the comments as often recently.

Re:What's a Yelp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933265)

They probably haven't spent their astroturf budget on slashdot in 5 years.... it's the rare genuine fans now.

Re:What's a Yelp? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933329)

Please. Slashdot is a bunch of drones with a handful of honest people who actually use the technology they talk about. Microsoft would be wasting their money here. Most users here are still using MS products dispite all the heavy handed open source fantasies we have to endure. They paint it up as "But if I could just play teh GTA V on my Linux box3n!!!!111!!!" but we know the truth.

Re:What's a Yelp? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934531)

I wouldn't go quite that far. MS pay astroturfers to post on Slashdot too, so it must be relevant to something.

I doubt Microsoft has to pay anybody.

There's plenty of people who will uncritically defend or attack pretty much anything.

So there will always be people who say "Microsoft is teh awesome and Apple is teh suxor", and similarly there will be people who say the opposite.

People get invested in this stuff, and then becoming drooling idiots when anybody says anything that contradicts what they think.

Slashdot is just a place where we see the really polarized sentiment much more often.

cost of doing business (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932899)

350K is the cost of business. No way does this stop without someone going to jail or a fine large enough to offset the profit generated by such shennanigans.

Re:cost of doing business (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932945)

More importantly, how much did the NY AG's office spend to do all this, to collect $350K in fines ??

Somehow, I suspect it was a lot more than $350K. . . .

Re:cost of doing business (3, Insightful)

SJHillman (1966756) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932971)

The government isn't in the business of being a business, so profit isn't the intention. The value to them isn't the fines as much as it to get people to follow the rules and fining them is one of the ways to do that. So if the AG spent $500,000, but it cuts down false reviews by 20%, they might consider it money well spent.

Now, if they spent $500,000 in a tax collection effort (something to bring in more money) that only yielded $350,000, then it would be a failure, but that's not what this was.

Re:cost of doing business (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933467)

And what rules were broken ? Last time I checked, we still had free speech. IF charging fraud, who was injured and how much did they lose due to this. This is ADVERTISING. . . .

Re:cost of doing business (5, Informative)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934397)

>And what rules were broken

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/GBS/22-A/350-a [findlaw.com]

Don't be a dumbass, there has been false advertising laws for years to deal with issues like this in meatspace. Lying out of your ass about products your are selling has nothing to do with free speech.

Re:cost of doing business (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932957)

Yeah, but this is just about "false advertising and deceptive business practices." On the one hand this might be a pretty blatant case of fraud, but on the other hand when it comes to advertising and deceptive business practices there's a huge grey area and everyone trying to push the limits. These aren't really the people that need to be sent to jail, just fine them and let the consumers sue them additionally for any perceived damages.

Disclaimers (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44932959)

Internet comments are not to be trusted. *

* I was paid to post this comment.

Where's the Yogurt? (3, Interesting)

barlevg (2111272) | 1 year,28 days | (#44932979)

I'm unclear: was this fake Yogurt shop actually listed on Yelp? Or did he just pose as a Yogurt shop owner and seek the help of SEO firms?

If the former, one might imagine a hapless Brooklynite trying to find this awesome place they read about on Yelp and being sorely disappointed when the address ended up being, what? A PO box? And then wouldn't they then go onto Yelp and report the address as wrong?

Re:Where's the Yogurt? (1)

safetyinnumbers (1770570) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936207)

It would become a fairy-tale-like urban legend. "But when he went to find the yogurt shop, there was just a brick wall."

only trust negative reviews (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933003)

and only trust those that have details about what was wrong

anyone who has been online for a few years should have developed the skills to quickly scan hundreds of comments and filter out the trolls and shills

Used advanced IP spoofing? Where's Carmen Ortiz? (4, Informative)

schwit1 (797399) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933067)

Where are the feds with this one? IP spoofing was one of the charges the feds used to intimidate Aaron Swartz.

Re:Used advanced IP spoofing? Where's Carmen Ortiz (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934519)

I hadn't heard that when they banned his IP and MAC address, Aaron Swartz simply changed them both. That's not acting in good faith. It shows that he knew what he was doing wasn't allowed and that he was trying to evade the rules.

He wasn't charged for IP spoofing.

On January 6, 2011, Swartz was arrested near the Harvard campus by MIT police and a U.S. Secret Service agent. He was arraigned in Cambridge District Court on two state charges of breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony. On July 11, 2011, Swartz was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer and recklessly damaging a protected computer.

Anyway, just because one facet of a crime is similar to another one, doesn't mean the punishment should be the same.

Seinfeld Episode (3, Insightful)

chill (34294) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933087)

This sounds suspiciously like a Seinfeld episode.

Been Going On For A Long Time (3, Informative)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933099)

This kind of thing has been going on for as long as there have been online comments about products. One of the first sites I ran was an infomercial product review site. I got some great reviews saying how good or awful products were (tip: don't buy Epil-Stop). I would also get a sudden flood of positive reviews on a product. At that time, the fake reviewers weren't too sophisticated so you could tell that the 100 positive reviews from 100 "different people" were coming from the same IP address. I'd junk them but even at the time it was a lot of effort for what was a one man operation. I can sympathize with the comments moderation teams at Yelp, Amazon, and any other place that accepts user comments on products but tries to weed out fake ones.

Re:Been Going On For A Long Time (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935499)

The fact that you cared about the quality of the reviews on your site makes you different, and sadly outdated in today's internet climate.

Yelp is almost certainly in on the scam and making money on it. (It is the only way to explain why their site is the way it is.)
Amazon just doesn't give a shit. (Though this leads to hilarious reviews.)

I'm puzzled... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933105)

What *exactly* have they been fined for? For being wrong on the Internet? There'd be huge financial opportunity in that.

Re:I'm puzzled... (2)

guytoronto (956941) | 1 year,28 days | (#44933277)

Paragraph 1 of the article:

By producing fake reviews, these companies violated multiple state laws against false advertising and engaged in illegal and deceptive business practices.

Re:I'm puzzled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934405)

Sounds like quite a stretch. The AG is probably going after those who can't afford to defeat him in court.

Amazon is next (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933801)

While I know Amazon doesn't write it's own reviews but they do almost nothing to prevent them either. I figure New York, the state of growing debts, is going to hit them next.

Texting and navigation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44933917)

I can perfectly well understand that SMS writing/reading when in red lights. As I have seen many times people do same (not in USA) and they notice often lights have changed when car next to them starts leaving and then they just throw phone away to seat and start driving.
Few times they have not even checked the lights and when the next line has been on privileged turning line, they suddenly notice that there are other cars turning on their way and do emergency brake.

But what comes to navigation. That I don't understand. As even when it is same device phone+map together. You don't use multiple features simultaneously.
When you set your phone to navigation mode and attach it to dashboard mount, it presents a map on whole display like any TOMTOM etc.
The only difference is that TOMTOM can not receive phonecalls or SMS or send them. But when you are navigating, you do not write SMS or touch it.

I would not itself accept that person has a navigation in phone itself as without mount as that is just easy escape "Office I was only checking my map" when the SMS application was used and map launched with single tap to hide it. And because you are holding the device in your hand and not focusing to road with both hands on wheel.
So smartphones/tablets mounted to dashboard in navigation mode are fine to me. But same rules apply then as with TOMTOM etc. If you change route or you manipulate your navigation device when driving (being in red lights etc) then it is illegal. But if you don't touch it and you are in red lights, officers has nothing to say to you, as there is no any kind difference are you looking map from TomTom device display or Google Maps.

Re:Texting and navigation (3, Funny)

Godwin O'Hitler (205945) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934583)

Do you sometimes wish you'd replied in the right thread?

Re:Texting and navigation (2)

hypergreatthing (254983) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935065)

Maybe he was talking about eating and reviewing yogurts while driving.

Best article ever (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934031)

This is the best article ever published. It completely fulfilled my need for information and informed commentary.

Re:Best article ever (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935447)

It's also a negative review on doing business in New York. People are just trying to make some money in the bad economy. Now they have to move over to New Jersey.

Simple fix, although it makes me cringe a little. (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934337)

Require reviewers to post a "selfie" with the product, at the place of business, and so on. They should have a profile picture too, naturally.

.

Re:Simple fix, although it makes me cringe a littl (1)

swb (14022) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935937)

That will work well for a lot of personal care products.

"Here's me with my hemorrhoid cream. Notice how easy it is to apply."

As little as $1 per review? Sign me up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934369)

If I could write reviews all day, that's what I'd do. I mean $1/review and if you write 15 reviews in an hour that's $15. Not fantastic wage as my field's competitive wage is $80-$110/hr. but when you're in between jobs looking for a new one since your old company decided to outsource to another country, you're kinda in a bind to pay bills using any means necessary, and yes-- 100 fat chicks for $100 each will do. But what I don't get is what's so illegal about writing fake reviews? The whole movie and game industry is based on fake reviews, bribing companies if you will to write A++ reviews. Why aren't they getting fined? I call bullshit on these attorneys. They're the ones that need to be fined for harassing a business that used a website just as it's expected to be used by nature.

I suspect most /.-er's (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44934833)

I suspect most people lurking on this site have enough brains and savvy to ferret out many fake reviews posted on such sites, or at least take things with a very large grain of salt.
That is assuming we take the time. Then there is the rest of the population, who may glance at a Yelp! rating and take action from there.
It took me about 2 minutes years ago to conclude that rating sites like this would have a low accuracy rate. Why? I own a small business, and experience the general public first hand.
Further example: on Amazon, people can rate things for sale. A fair % of those ratings have nothing to do with the thing for sale, but with problems like late shipping or damage goods.
I don't anything against the lowest common denomnator, except that it's low and common.

Seriously? (1)

koan (80826) | 1 year,28 days | (#44934933)

Online reviews? LOL.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935307)

Everything is online now days. So why not have crime online, too? Oh wait, it is.

The yogurt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44935027)

...is cursed.

Hmmm (2)

koan (80826) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935071)

There's more than one kind of fake review.
One is just straight up lying, they got paid to post but never actually used the service/product.
The other is the way Apple does it, where just before the release of a new product "independent" tech blogs, and various other bottom feeding scum bubble up to praise their fruity overlords and go full gush on something they have never used (generate false excitement).

Then there are the reviews that while true, they don't allow or they remove bad reviews.

You're better off finding a forum involved in the product and getting information that way, also if you get involved with a bad product/service look into taking a few minutes to complain to the BBB or whatever is appropriate, other wise nothing changes.

This will not stop (1)

Skapare (16644) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935289)

... until all the fake reviewers are in prison for 10 years, and the executives of the businesses doing this in prison for 30 years.

STOP LINKING TO FUCKING NYT LINKS (1)

c5402dc53929211e1efb (3084201) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935527)

NOBODY CAN ACCESS THEM. DIE.

Obama (0)

jeff13 (255285) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935639)

Well, yea but, how can we make this Obama's fault?

Like investigating Google (1)

minstrelmike (1602771) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935673)

Discovering fake stuff on the internet is easy. Proving which miscreants posted it is hard.
The investigation sounds a lot like the one Wired wrote up about Google helping people get illegal drug sites high up in the PageRank.
They had recordings from helpdesk people on how to get around it.
Several recordings for (supposedly) different companies to help skirt the rules Google supposedly had in place.
I don't know why people believe stuff they read on the internet. Probably for the same reason they believe stuff sent out on television stations or hollered from pulpits or whispered from ear to ear across backyard fences. Gossip is popular but is only sometimes true.

Believe what I say.

Total waste (1)

jodido (1052890) | 1 year,28 days | (#44935741)

This sting operation is a total waste of time and is itself a fraud, designed to make you think the NY a-g is protecting you. He's not. First of all, this is not a real problem. No one over the age of six is taken in by fake reviews. Second, once burned twice shy--if you are taken in once, you never will be again. No state action needed. Third, the spoofers will find a new way to post fake reviews. Go chase ripoff landlord, Mr. Schneiderman, if you want to do something that will help a lot of people.

I love Slashdot - Will view again (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,28 days | (#44936191)

I clicked on the article and the Slashdot comments were delivered quickly. Comments were packed perfectly and were easy to read. I couldn't believe how useful Slashdot is in my daily life! I told all my poker buddies and they loved it too! Thank You SlashDot you will see me return for more a lot in the future. Five out of Five Stars

waste of our money (1)

ahree (265817) | 1 year,28 days | (#44936875)

is all I can think of.

it's just not that big a deal, as an analysis of Society's Use Of Yelp (and others) would have determined.

and as some folks have said.. ain't that yelp's problem? are they gonna police online resume sites too?

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