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Posted 08/07/2022 in SEO by INTELLIPLANS

Google 1-Star Review Scams

Google 1-Star Review Scams

What to do with Google Review Scams

Google posted an announcement on July 15, 2022 acknowledging some businesses are facing Google 1-star review scams

The excerpt of the announcement is below:

We’ve recently become aware of a scam targeting businesses on Google with the threat of 1-star reviews unless they send money via gift cards. 

Our policies clearly state reviews must be based on real experiences, and our teams are working around the clock to thwart these attacks, remove fraudulent reviews, and put protections on business profiles that may have been affected. 

If your business is being targeted by these scammers, please do not pay them. Instead, please flag the reviews here or reach out to Google support via our Help Center, so that our team can review and remove policy-violating content. If you haven’t yet claimed your business profile, you can do so here.  

From Search Engine Land, they mentioned the "1-star review attacks plague restaurants on Google" where they have reiterated the issue with threats of Google 1-star reviews by scammers.

Google is aware of the issue and has advised business owners to flag the reviews or contact Google support to get them removed:

Restaurants around the U.S. are under attack from negative reviews.

The New York Times covered the newest scam, where people are leaving 1-star reviews for restaurants and then emailing saying that they have to send them a gift card before they’ll remove the reviews.

The New  York Times article continues by stating:

Emails sent to dozens of restaurants, including those with Michelin stars, threaten a barrage of one-star reviews unless owners pay.

In a new scam targeting restaurants, criminals are leaving negative ratings on restaurants’ Google pages as a bargaining chip to extort digital gift cards.

Restaurateurs from San Francisco to New York, many from establishments with Michelin stars, said in recent days that they’ve received a blitz of one-star ratings on Google, with no description or photos, from people they said have never eaten at their restaurants. Soon after the reviews, many owners said, they received emails from a person claiming responsibility and requesting a $75 Google Play gift card to remove the ratings. If payment is not received, the message says, more bad ratings will follow.

The New York Times has uncovered a scam where negative reviews are posted on Google, and the business owner is then asked to pay a ransom in the form of a Google Play Gift card. If the ransom isn't paid, the scammer threatens to post more negative reviews. This is a serious problem for business owners, and it's important to be aware of it. It appears that the report revealed that many of the one-star reviews on Google came from India.

This is a serious issue for business owners, as bad reviews can damage their reputation and cost them customers. If you receive a one-star review, be alert for possible scams. If you're contacted by someone demanding a payment in exchange for removing a negative review, report it to Google. 

The report quotes the 'threat', which is sent via email. One of the emails was quoted in the New York Times report and reads like this, "We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice. The fact is that we live in India and see how other way to survive."

The scammers don't make direct threats but try to elicit an emotional response. They beg for a Google Play gift card worth $75, saying they will sell it to provide income for their family. Gift cards are often difficult to track back, making them a popular choice for scammers. In this case, the scammer is asking for a Google Play gift card worth $75. They claim they will sell the card to provide income for their family. This is a scam. Do not send the gift card. 

You can also learn more about how our review moderation systems work to ensure that Google reviews remain helpful and authentic. 

Here is the forum to discuss your Google reviews.

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