Chris Ratchford

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"For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Just got off the phone w/ a client who told me they were being sold a Google reviews package by an agency who- according to the conman- "has an agreement with Google" to copy reviews from SmileReminders (sorta like DemandForce) to your Google Places page.

The conman had a full court hard sell to my dentist- who previously worked with him on a video for their website.

This guy even cut $1000 off the deal if the dentist signed the paperwork right there.

The office manager sent me the link to the website with the password for the presentation. I've taken screenshots of all their BS claims.

I'm thinking about calling these fools out for the fraud they are. :mad:
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

I can't remember the name it was awhile back but I heard about something similar from what appeared to be a very high end agency. They SWORE they were authorized by Google to post reviews according to a very high end speaker/consultant Dentist I referred to you. He worked with them and I kept telling him it was not allowed.

Wonder if this is the same company? I'd know the name if I heard it so email me if you want. If it's the same group then that Dentist knows them pretty well.
 

Chris Ratchford

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Yep... that's them. I should send you the screenshots of their web presentation.

Pisses me off. All of my clients are important, but this practice is one of those you love to work with. Great people who bust their @sses.

I'm just thankful they come to me for these things. :D
 

Eric Rohrback

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Alright, I just PM'ed Chris to verify the name of the company so I feel OK about chiming in now (Thanks Chris!).

This company is full of salespeople that do nothing but post fake reviews. They create videos which they post to .gov websites (community websites) with the promise this will help get the dentist (or other small business owner) more website traffic/customers. A couple months later they will call the owner up and try to sell (like chris said) a "reputation management" package which includes calling/emailing customers from a list of names their client provides. They had what were previously titled "review managers" to do this. They create hundreds of fake profiles and post reviews.

To get ownership over place pages they claim to have "a license" from Google to work on the page and tell businesses that spots are running out. I know their old sales pitch very well. These guys claim to sell "SEO" packages, but they are complete frauds. It's nothing but a company full of salespeople.

I can go on more of a rant, but I have to get back to a project I'm working on. If you want to know the name of the company PM me, and I'll gladly tell you. Chris' first message threw up a red flag for me & I immediately knew the company. I used to work for that company, but had to leave because I couldn't stand the deceptive sales strategies and the lack of legit work they do. I haven't worked for that company in over a year, so I'm not sure if anything has really changed. Not sure if Linda would like me to share the name of the company, their location, and management on the forum (I know all of this). I'm also not sure if I want to publicly share it in case they have Google alerts or another alert system set up when their company name is mentioned (They know me, and I don't want them harassing me). Like I said, I will gladly share all details with anyone who wants to know. I also think I know how to find all their clients... or potential clients (it's a 2 systems sales funnel using another department within the company). I'll let you know if I can pull the information using OSE, so maybe people can warn their clients about these clowns.

Is it possible to file FTC complaints for this company? What can be done?


I'll end my rant now...
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Thanks Eric, WOW a real insider eye-opener.

If I remember right when this high profile Dentist sang their praises and I looked into them they 'appeared' to be very high profile agency. They didn't look like some of the super scammy ones Mike and I have outed in the past.

PLEASE DON'T MENTION NAMES OR LINK TO SITES HERE. But thanks for offering to.
(If any of you want to know you can PM Eric since he offered to share.)


Trust me - I love calling companies out on their bad practices! Companies like this hurt businesses and give us all a bad name. I've outed people in the past, but no longer want to take the risk.

I just don't have time for the worry, possible harassment and threats of a lawsuit. This has happened to me in the past when people have posted complaints about companies on my forums. And I know Mike recently went through all kinds of harassment with some outing he did. It was time consuming and concerning from what I saw. I just can't deal with the added stress right now and it would take precious time and energy away from the positive work I'm trying to accomplish.

One thing you COULD do if you want to bust them, is if you have any hard evidence of violations you could share it here and I'll report to Google. By hard evidence I mean share a link to a G+ page and tell me which users are doing fake reviews. (But I don't want links to the agency's site or anything posted here.) Then the Google spam team can look into it, find the pattern and maybe close a bunch of the accounts down. (I'm pretty sure I reported them before.) But I don't think Google can literally prevent the company from doing what they are doing.
 

Chris Ratchford

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Linda,

I'll send you a PM w/ the example they gave my client. It's a G+L page w/ reviews that the agency published.
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Got it! Thanks Chris!
 

Eric Rohrback

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Chris, any update on this? What ended up happening with your client?
 

Chris Ratchford

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Client told them they are not interested. :)
 
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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Maybe this is the wrong place to post this..

I was just offered a shady deal with a 4 month contract for between 4800 and 8500 a month to do about the same thing..build up my web presence. with a lot of BS and fake blogging.

I looked at some of their past work that has got someone noticed on all 4 sides of town and could see they were useing fake addresses to get noticed in the suburb cities around town... their business web sites all had addresses at ups stores.... not PO boxes..... I thought that this was a no-no.. or have they found a new loophole.....with a suite #d instead of a post office box??

is this right or wont they eventually get caught ??

I questioned them about this at our meeting last friday
and you could see them sort of squim in their seats ...... they claimed the
addresses were legit....

anyway I said no thank you...

just wondering how to report their scam to google

thanks in advance
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

I looked at some of their past work that has got someone noticed on all 4 sides of town and could see they were useing fake addresses to get noticed in the suburb cities around town... their business web sites all had addresses at ups stores.... not PO boxes..... I thought that this was a no-no.. or have they found a new loophole.....with a suite #d instead of a post office box??

is this right or wont they eventually get caught ??

Hi Mark and welcome.

You can use whatever address you want on your site. It's your site. But on the G+ Local page neither UPS store or PO box is allowed. However some listings set up a long time ago still have them and occasionally you'll see one that slipped through the cracks.

This sounds like a different company and situation. Again UPS address on their site is no problem as far as Google is concerned. Only if it's on the G+ L page. If it is, you can report it right on their page. Or if you have evidence of rampant abuse on multiple Google listings, you could report it at the Google Business forum.
 

Eric Rohrback

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Not sure if anyone caught this today:

Fake Online Reviews Cost 19 Companies $350,000 - Search Engine Watch (#SEW)

If you have clients who are buying fake review, you'd better warn them about what could happen. Probably wouldn't be good for businesses to get caught and get slapped with a $50k fine from Uncle Sam.

Posting fake reviews is actually against a federal regulation governing the use of endorsements (FTC is the exact branch which watches over this). You can play with fire but eventually... :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Re: "For $5000 we can post reviews to your Google Places listing!" Snake Oil Salesmen

Thanks Eric,

Mike blogged it too. NY State AG Brings Down the Hammer on Fake Reviews (Again)

Good to see the problem getting the AG and major media's attention.

I've been in discussions with Google today about some major spammy review rings. In certain markets the problem is just totally out of control. Both fake positive reviews AND fake negative review competitor sabotage.
 
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