Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New York Takes Aim at Phony Online Reviews; State's Attorney General Seeks to End System of Paid, Anonymous Write-Ups of Companies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New York Takes Aim at Phony Online Reviews; State's Attorney General Seeks to End System of Paid, Anonymous Write-Ups of Companies

Article excerpt

ALBANY, N.Y. * A perfect hotel? An amazing restaurant? Teeth whitener that leads to romance?

Such things may only truly exist in online reviews, and New York's attorney general says many of them are fakes.

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he had settled cases with 19 companies that included $350,000 in penalties.

"Consumers rely on reviews from their peers to make daily purchasing decisions on anything from food and clothing to recreation and sightseeing," Schneiderman said. "This investigation into large-scale, intentional deceit across the Internet tells us that we should approach online reviews with caution."

The rise in the phony review business comes as more people trust such commentaries, even though they are often posted anonymously. Schneiderman said Harvard Business School found that increasing a restaurant's review score by one star on Yelp.com could boost business up to 8 percent. Cornell researchers found an extra star on Travelocity or TripAdvisor could translate into an 11 percent increase in a room rate. …

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