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There is a company that I have run into that had a sudden review surge. In each of these 20+ reviews, they, as in individual accounts, review a combination of the same places having reviewed by an advertising company who has reviewed all of these businesses as well. It appears that companies around the area are hiring this advertising company who then creates many reviews, even some local government services appear to be using this advertising companies service.

Is there anything illegal about this kind of practice?

Who would be the point of contact to mediate this?

Is this fraud if they haven't received the services?

  • I am not voting down (and I hardly ever downvote), but your question is very unclear. For instance, "an advertising company that kicked this off". Kicked off what? What do you mean by "review bombs them" and that "even some local government services have these"? Who are they that "haven't received the services"? What you describe sounds in false advertising of services, but to constitute fraud, the client must have (1) reasonably relied on the provider's own (direct or indirect) knowingly false representations, and (2) incurred a loss as a result of that reliance. – Iñaki Viggers Sep 7 '18 at 12:00
  • @IñakiViggers attempted to clean it up – SCFi Sep 7 '18 at 13:33
  • Apart from the legal angle, the company publishing the reviews (let's say P) may act on it: after all, if the reviews are false and deceive people consulting them, then people will stop consulting them and P could lose users. Of course, be careful with your wording when notifying them (No "these people are cheating" but "I have noticed this activity that seems suspicious to me, maybe you want to check what is going on"). – SJuan76 Sep 8 '18 at 11:31
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This doesn't sound like fraud (against you, at least), but it does sound like an unfair or deceptive trade practice, which is outlawed by Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act and perhaps the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, both of which prohibit unfair and deceptive trade practices.

I don't know about Pennsylvania, but the FTC has on many occasions taken action against companies for engaging in just this kind of behavior.

To find out whether you would be able to take action against the other company, you'd want to find a good competition lawyer in Pennsylvania. For some more basic background on the FTC's rules, check out this primer.

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    Told the contractor/company about the fake reviews at court and over half of them disappeared the next day, luckily I took screenshots, but 100's more for other clients. So I now have reported the advertising company to the FTC. Thank You would have thought there was nothing to do otherwise – SCFi Sep 21 '18 at 17:08
  • Nice. Glad to hear you got good results. – bdb484 Sep 21 '18 at 19:26
  • Thanks for helping others with your expertise. I have a related situation (I was subjected to fraud in this case). law.stackexchange.com/questions/44932/… Could you kindly advise me on this – Bnr Sep 22 at 16:49

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