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Fake Reviews Are Rampant Online. Can a Crackdown End Them?


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Fake reviews are as old as the Internet itself, and they are illegal and banned by online platforms. But fake review businesses have continued to blossom anyway.

Credit: Christina Lee

After Dr. Mark J. Mohrmann completed a successful orthopedic procedure in 2019, his patient turned to Yelp, the review website, to share his appreciation.

"Dr. Mark made me feel that I was in safe hands," the patient wrote in a five-star review.

Only the writer was not an actual patient, and there was no procedure. His review was fake—part of an effort to boost the online ratings for Dr. Mohrmann's business using phony positive reviews, according to an analysis by Fake Review Watch, an industry watchdog. Last month, Dr. Mohrmann agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty to settle with New York's attorney general on charges of deceiving the public with fake reviews.

The fake review for Dr. Mohrmann is just one example of the billion-dollar fake review industry, where people and businesses pay marketers to post fake positive reviews to Google Maps, Amazon, Yelp and other platforms, and deceive millions of customers each year.

From The New York Times
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