Numerous small and medium-sized businesses reported that their Google My Business listings were bombarded with fake reviews, affecting both their visibility and sales.
The culprits, who had left more than three million fake 4-star ratings for various businesses, according to members of the Google My Business forum, are still unknown.
From the profiles gathered by Google, though, most have Vietnamese usernames and the average user had left over 81,000 ratings for various US-based SMBs.
The Fake Review Problem
According to business owners and Google Product Experts, detecting which businesses were affected was a challenge because the scammers had opted to hide their reviews.
“This infuriates me. I understand the need for privacy but I cannot stand the fact that any user with any name can just post a review on a business that they have never had an interaction with. There needs to be some accountability if these reviews are going to have any type of credibility.” – Joy Hawkins, Google My Business Top Contributor
At least 257 businesses were found to have been affected by the fake reviews, but Google Product Experts believe that there could be more.
One business owner reported receiving a total of 22 ratings with no comments in just a span of one hour. This paints the gravity of the situation that they’re all in at the moment.
It took Google 5 days to eventually track down and clear out all of the fake reviews that were left however it does highlight how easy and disruptive the presence of fake reviews can be online.
Have you ever been a victim of fake reviews? Let us know your take on this issue in the comments below or over in our Facebook Group here.