Malaga restaurateurs caught by expat offering fake TripAdvisor reviews

Published:  3 Sep at 6 PM
Want to get involved? Become a Featured Expat and take our interview.
Become a Local Expert and contribute articles.
Get in touch today!
Tagged: Australia, Money
A British expat-owned firm based in Malaga has been caught selling fake TripAdvisor reviews to Spanish hotels, restaurants and other expat and tourism-based companies.

In a bid to boost their ratings on TripAdvisor and other global tourism websites, businesses in Malaga have been lured into paying €400 for dozens of fake five-star reviews. An investigation by Andalusia-based English language newspaper The Olive Press has revealed the fraudulent operation promised ‘genuine reviews tailored to your specific business’, with one happy restaurant owner claiming his business rating soared to TripAdvisor number one in his area after buying a number of fake ‘excellent’ reviews over a period of several months. All bar one of his purchased reviews were marked as ‘excellent’, with one as ‘very good’.

According to the boss of the fake ratings company Ben Fisher, the above restaurant’s former TripAdvisor rating was less than 100, but soared to number one after using his services. Fisher believes it’s not important that reviewers have actually used a business’s services, although he told reporters he could send a genuine customer to the venue if the client paid more. The covert investigation was started by Olive Press reporters after an angry expat business owner reported he’d received an unsolicited email offering fake reviews, at which point reporters posed as potential clients running a Marbella holiday rental business.

The reporters were told ‘real people’, all verified users, would be writing their reviews and were given reassurance that the practice wasn’t illegal – it’s simply cheating. Two five-star reviews every day would be written by ‘family and friends’ of Fisher, who also gave a promise of 100 per cent success and a money-back guarantee.

TripAdvisor has been previously caught for allowing fake reviews, with one deliberate stunt some years ago resulting in a fake restaurant becoming number one in London after using fake reviews. When the Olive Press team revealed themselves to Fisher, his story changed and he presented his service as genuine, involving a team of four who eat at a restaurant and share their experiences on TripAdvisor. He also insisted the charge for reviews simply covers the cost of the meals.
Like this news?

Comments » No published comments just yet for this article...

Feel free to have your say on this item. Go on... be the first!

Tell us Your Thoughts On This Piece:

Your Name *
Email * (not published, needs verification one time only)
  • Facebook
  • Follow us on Twitter
  • RSS feed
  • Facebook

Latest Headlines

News Links

News Archive