15.07.2009 Local SEO, Local Social Media No Comments

Submitting False Reviews is Actionable

It has always been a bad idea to submit false positive reviews to Google, Yahoo, Bing or the various local databases. They are easy to detect, and customers will be turned off. The company might even be called out on it publicly.

Now there is another reason to avoid this practice: it is actionable legally. The State of New York has a secured a $300,000 settlement with Lifestyle Lift. The employees of the cosmetics company were actively posting positive reviews of the company and attacking those who criticized Lifestyle Lift.

From the release:

Internal emails discovered by Attorney General Cuomo’s investigation show that Lifestyle Lift employees were given specific instructions to engage in this illegal activity. One e-mail to employees said: “Friday is going to be a slow day – I need you to devote the day to doing more postings on the web as a satisfied client.” Another internal email directed a Lifestyle Lift employee to “Put your wig and skirt on and tell them about the great experience you had.”

In addition to the fine, Lifestyle Lift employees are restricted from posing as consumers on the Internet. And the company is not allowed to promote Lifestyle Lift online without “clearly and conspicuously disclosing that they are responsible for the content.”

In the long run, what will likely hurt the most is the impact of the negative publicity on Lifestyle Lift’s brand. Anyone looking into the company will quickly find out about this malfeasance. As of this writing, the Attorney General press release is already 7th on Google for [lifestyle lift], and is likely to continue to climb.

Hat Tip to Understanding Google Maps & Local Search.

Written by Brian Combs on July 15th, 2009 at 9:41 am.

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