Know Your Fake Reviews- State AGs Signal Enforcement Action
Reviews matter. In a survey conducted by Yelp, 83% of consumers who read reviews say they trust online reviews about local businesses. However, fake reviews may mislead consumers. Recently, there was media attention around a one-night-only restaurant in New York City that arose from fake reviews. The idea for a restaurant spawned from a joke. A group of friends had renamed (on Google Maps) the house they lived in to “Mehran’s Steakhouse” and left reviews about the “restaurant.” It was not an established “restaurant” at the time, though some of the reviews suggested otherwise. “Mehran’s Steakhouse” had 91 reviews and a near-perfect Google rating. The friends set up a website and created a waiting list, where over 900 people signed up. Eventually, the friends put together a one-night-only dining experience. They obtained a liquor license, food handling permits, printed menus, and set up a number of “fake”-themed performances (e.g. fans of the artist, Drake, stood outside the restaurant holding posters to get Drake’s attention, though Drake was not there; a fake proposal occurred in the dining room).