An unknown Vancouver man is the latest target of a lawsuit from customer review website Yelp, claiming he posted fake reviews in exchange for cash.
In a civil claim filed by lawyer Dan Burnett in B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 20, Yelp says it is suing the man, referred to as John Doe, for nuisance and violation of the Competition Act and argues it is suffering loss and damage as a site which "relies on the integrity of the [c]ustomer [r]eviews so that people have confidence in using [it] to evaluate local businesses," CBC reported.
"John Doe has entered into agreements with certain businesses having a business account on the Yelp Site, where in the businesses have agreed to remunerate John Doe in exchange for the composition and posting of positive fake reviews on the Yelp site, in order to boost the businesses ratings," outlined the lawsuit. The company also claims the man paid other people to compose fake reviews and blackmailed Yelp, according to The Tyee.
Yelp doesn't know the reviewer's real name as he reportedly goes by several nicknames on the website, including James McNulty, jon tom and bill mads, according to North Shore News, saying it gained access to court documents revealing the man has a residence in North Vancouver.
The site says it is trying to get Shaw, the man's Internet provider, to hand over the man's contact information.
Fake reviews continue to be an issue for Yelp.
Twenty per cent of reviews on the site are fake, according to a Harvard Business School paper and this latest lawsuit is only one of several launched in a bid to nab users it suspects of making up positive reviews.
The site says it has a review filter that catches paid-for reviews, a function the company admits isn't perfect.
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