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The effect of fake Google Reviews on Small Business and what Google is doing to resolve it

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# 1
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This is my first post here. I have had issues with a customer who has begun to leave negative google reviews and ratings, using several fake accounts, in an attempt to get revenge for a misguided feeling of being hard done by (he was filming children with his phone and got upset when he refused to delete the footage and was asked to leave).  We are a very small business and it has only taken a small small number of fake reviews to seriously affect our business. 


He has left a total of 3 reviews (all with 1 star and negative feedback) and 1 rating (1 star) using 4 different accounts. 

To show they were from the same person I have done some research and have found that he has used a total of 9 (that I could find) different accounts (none using his actual name) to leave the same style ratings and reviews for 10 local businesses (most of them small businesses). I have seen that a number of these business have had their ratings drop significantly just from his negative reviews - 1 business has received 4 reviews from this one person which has left their business rating at 2.6/5 and just recently he left 1 star for a company that had no reviews so they now sit at 1/5.  


The reviews left for my business were as such:

CI account: “unsafe facility. too many odd looking guys acting suspiciously loitering inside and around the place. weird. the massage parlor next door makes this place a magnet for weirdos with their 15yo sons” This review was deleted because it had abusive language. 

MA Account: “lotsa of weirdos loitering around the place bcos of the massage parlor next door. not safe” 8 days later this review was posted and deleted by google for using abusive language. 

JU account: “weird and dangerous people loitering around the place” This was posted 5 days later without the parts of the review that were getting the previous reviews deleted.  The same day a 1 star rating was left by an account that has been used to leave reviews for many of the businesses that the other 8 accounts have left reviews for. 


We do not naturally get a lot of reviews.  I am working on this, but as I don't want to be penalized, I am being careful to get reviews from genuine customers without breaking any google rules.  However, the person leaving all the bad reviews anonymously using fake accounts seems to have very little vetting. Since I have started looking into this I have seen numerous reviews, from this one person as well as other reviewers that contain racist and inflammatory content. This one person has personally effected a good number of local businesses with his reviews - taking advantage of the fact that a lot of small businesses do not have a lot of google reviews to directly bring down their rating to a number that will scare off new customers.  


I have tried using the google function to flag the review as inappropriate but the text is not inappropriate and the account has been active for some time.  I have tried explaining this to a real person using the google my business request a call function but this did not result in any changes. I cant even imagine how much money Google makes from its service of listing reviews and ratings for businesses but if they are going to list this kind of thing, I would like to see greater vetting of the ratings and reviews. I understand yelp has a much more rigorous testing of reviews and they are more likely to reject a fake review than google reviews. 


As a bit of a business idea i have a proposal. What if Google certifies people/companies to provide a service where they, for a fee, will investigate the negative (or positive) reviews of a busines to verify if they meet the google review criteria - the parties doing the checking maybe have access to the metadata for the review as well so they can see things like the reviewers IP address - if they find that a business has been receiving multiple negative or positive reviews from the same IP then they can submit a report to the right area of Google requesting that the reviews are deleted. That way businesses receiving fake reviews to make their business look bad have a way of dealing with this.  If a business has been getting fake reviews to make their business look better then competitors that are being affected by this also have a way of addressing the imbalance.   


One person should not be able to do so much damage to a small business... it a disproportionate amount of power for someone to wield....especially with all the "weird and dangerous people" out there. 


Does anyone have advice on where I should go from here? Is there a service like the one I suggested already out there? Is there somewhere I can send all the data I have collected that ties together  all the fake accounts this guy has been using so they can verify it?  From looking at his attacks on other local businesses I see sometimes he has left reviews over the course of 4 months.... so I get the sense he hasn't finished with us yet. 


1 Expert replyverified_user

The effect of fake Google Reviews on Small Business and what Google is doing to resolve it

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

can't do much but flagging such reviews them or (even better) to respond on the reviews 

Helmut Geissler, Google My Business Top Contributor   |  my G+ profile

The effect of fake Google Reviews on Small Business and what Google is doing to resolve it

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# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Thanks Helmut. I can respond but I cannot see why google does not allow for a function to have suspected fake reviews investigated. Businesses would be willing to pay for it if it meant that fake reviews could be identified and cleared from the rankings. It could be a significant revenue stream for them and a show of good will to small businesses that it is important to them that their service isnt being used to unfairly damage peoples livelihood.  Better vetting would help too. I see lots of reviews where the name is "A google user" and the reviewer only ever has one contribution. 


Here are some reviews that are still up from the guy that has left fake reviews about us that are being left for other local businesses (hairdressers, taxi firms, fast food places and self storage businesses):


"best to avoid this place if you are asian. the people running the place are rednecks. only bigotted rednecks will try to harm their customer. absurd behaviour from crazy australian rednecks"


The reviewer is chinese but he has accounts where he has a Muslim name "Monammed A***" and he tries to spark up religious controversy for the business by saying "refused me service when i asked for no pork in my dishes." 


"best to avoid this place. the female barbers do not know what they are doing. if you are asian becareful of this place. they hate asians here. the staff attitudes are extremely bad and they also do not respect for any asian customer. from just 1 visit, i find them unskilled, unqualified, unlicensed and not properly trained. they simply do not know how to cut mens hair. place was also dirty and smelly. the staff also smelled foul."


"dirty, smelly, poor personal hygiene and uncomfortable. their taxis are so badly managed and so badly operated. such a disgrace. never knew they were so expensive also after midnight and public holidays until recently. never again. most of the drivers look like thugs and about to snap at any moment. now that is frightening. so be warned. "


"most of the australian boys working here with pimples on their faces seem to be in "heat". creepy and weird. "


"bizarre weirdo in this outlet. a scrawny boy of malay descent will pack your 9 pcs box with 5 pcs of the same cut of chicken. and yes, it is the piece no one likes ie piece with the chicken bum. this person's bizarre behaviour demonstrates utter contempt towards the brand and the business. what a weirdo ! he has also been seen at the Karawara, WA outlet. weird behaviour like his may possibly a danger to the community. better remove him from the system before he harms someone. "


"watch out for the following staff - Kaymar and Jaspar. Serious attitude problem and rudeness to customers. Kaymar is observed to be very arrogant and extremely rude to customers. He is refusing service to customers, talking back to customers and being rude to customer. ... It is now time to sack this arab boy. .... note: it is possible kaymar (arab boy) is the manager. Time to dismiss this non-performing arab staff. "


"the dept of immigration should take a close look at the visas of the people working there. they cant even speak English ! how on earth did they get into Australia !"


"be wary of a female staff with Pacific Islander or New Zealand Maori appearance at this store. she seems to hv somekind of mental illness."



i would pay for a service where reviews about my business were moderated and if there were overtly out-of-line reviews like these posted that they would be picked up and never made it onto my review listings. If Google didnt want to do it - I would love to do it. It would be a license to print money if you could get some functionality like seeing additoinal metadata of reviews or being able to get limited access to accounts businesses that take your service and if you can build up a trust rating for accuracy and honesty in reviews that you flag for removal.