Investigating fraudulent fake reviews

Consumer reviews of commercial businesses have become an asset or liability for an enterprise. Websites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Facebook are sources of tellworldcontent where potential future clients and customers research information prior to deciding to do business with your firm. Attracting new clients is the lifeblood of a company, and positive reviews are crucial to maintaining a healthy bottom line.

There may always be a few clients in any business which cannot be pleased even with the best intentions and efforts of the merchant. These may simply need to be absorbed among the high volume of positive reviews from the vast majority of clients which a well-run and successful business cultivates. As competitors become more desperate that your successful company is retaining all of the customer in a market, they are resorting to posting fake negative reviews against your firm. This damages the extraordinary reputation which you worked hard for, and improperly benefits a company which has not rightfully earned the customers business. It also harms the innocent consumer in that they will be more likely to be exposed to less admirable business practices of the competitor. The consumer is also more likely to pay higher prices to a less efficient company. Fake reviews are real and significant threats to the viability of the business.

When a highly rated company needs to fight back against fake reviews, a skilled professional investigator can assist with discovering the source of the fraudulent activity. An investigation of review fraud can result in the fraudulent posts and reviews being removed, the perpetrator being publicly identified, and even paying restitution. A competitor acting in bad faith will also cease these actions when caught. Fake reviews are a form of fraud against a business, the same is paying with a bad check or embezzlement.

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These reviews may be written by employees of a competitor, an owner, or even an individual with a personal grudge against you or your firm. The origin may even be from long in the past. A professional private investigator skilled in discovering review fraud knows the methods to reveal this otherwise hard to prove activity. A licensed private investigator has access to records which are not available to an individual. In addition, there are techniques to obtain information directly from the fraudster through covert direct contact. Experienced investigators know where the hidden records connecting the fake review to a specific person are stored. Even older records have an archived or backup file with the contact information. The extracted records from websites, ISP, cell providers, and app accounts combine to a trail of evidence to the culprit.

controlroomA review fraud investigation can identify the name and location of the individual who placed the record online along with corresponding contact information. The exact date and time of the post may be available to tie the location to a specific event. Undoing the fraudulent negative reviews comes next, and there is a fast growing area of legal practice dedicated to obtaining compensation from competitors or clients who fraudulently damage a business. The logic is the same as if the person damaged property.

If a business owner came to their company and discovered the front window broken, they would not hesitate to investigate who caused the damage and make sure the party responsible was punished, and made restitution. Combating review fraud is no different. In fact, the financial damage to a company from fake reviews may be more severe, even if it is spread out over time.

 

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One response to “Investigating fraudulent fake reviews

  1. I’m an owner of a private investigation agency in Austin, Texas. Just like other companies we appreciate reviews on the different social media websites but find if quite difficult to get people to write a review because of the nature of our business. Most folks who use our services love what we do for them. Not long ago we had a negative review on Yelp, not by our client, but from the target of our investigation. After working hard to please our clients, it was quite disheartening to receive a bad review from a mean spirited individual who we caught red handed doing some quite immoral things (I can’t go into details because of confidentiality reasons). We are at a further disadvantage because we can not reply to this negative comment, again because if would violate our client’s confidentiality. However, I must give credit to Yelp. and their propitiatory software for catching this review and at least filtering it from the main results. The review is still there but at least it is partially hidden which requires the reader to purposely click on “Filtered Reviews.” The filtered review section explains that their software detected a suspicious review and does not count it in the overall ratings of our company. All I can say is “thank goodness!” Although, this is not a perfect solution, it helps and gives me even more confidence that fictitious reviews can be dealt with short of us having to take the person to court. Thanks again for the article – it really hit home after I read it!!!

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