gmbRecently a client brought to my attention a business in their area who rapidly accumulated dozens of 5 star reviews. Interestingly, they already had half a dozen negative reviews. A lot of people are afraid to leave businesses a negative review, so if this many people stepped forward to leave a bad 1 star review, they clearly upset a lot of folks.

I’ve always wondered how to report a competitor’s fake positive Google reviews. I myself once owned a brick and mortar business for 13 years and had dealt with companies giving themselves fake reviews in the past but in many cases they just gave themselves half a dozen and gave up. But in this case, the business is rapidly accumulating reviews.

So, I figured out how it is done, witnessed the process in action, and now I’m here to report on it.

How to report fake positive reviews

You can flag individual reviews left in Google when viewing a business’s reviews, but if they look like normal reviews or not contain vulgarities or hate speech, Google is not going to do anything about them. But, I do have actionable advice:

  1. Obtain evidence of the incentive. This is the most important step. You need a screenshot of their offering, a URL clearly showing where they are incentivizing reviews, a photo of their flyer, or clear proof. Some businesses advertise their payment for reviews on their website or on social media such as Twitter or Facebook. If a business has obtained 4 or 5 reviews in the last 10 years and then suddenly received 70 in just a few days from people who have clearly never used their services, this may be enough “proof” as well.
  2. Present the facts. Check your emotions at the door and head over to the Official Google My Business community forum. Type up exactly how the reviews are being purchased or incentivized, the dates the misleading reviews were left and post this in one tidy post in the forum.
  3. Locate a “top contributor”. These forum members may find your post on their own. If they do not, ping them or track them down in the forum so they see your post. If you have a legitimate case, they will use their superpowers to escalate your report from the forum to Google. Do not beg, they only care about the facts and keeping Google’s data accurate.

Example threads where people have successfully had fake positive reviews removed:

Fake reviews are unethical, deceptive and possibly illegal.

When most people find a business online they simply see the star count or star rating of a business and proceed to trust Google and contact the business. Very few end users will go through dozens of reviews, scrutinizing each one.

Fake positive reviews are so deceiving. Not only is this against Google’s policy, there are laws against it put in place by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC does not want people incentivizing people’s reviews. It is against the law. It’s rare the FTC actually takes action against people, however they do sometimes make an example out of someone for misrepresenting their business.

Getting fake positive reviews is a bad idea. You’re going to upset other business owners in the area. I’ve personally been in business for a little over two decades now and have always found it to be in my best interest to simply be good, honest and treat everyone, even competitors, respectfully.

Have you seen a business buying fake reviews?

We would like to hear your story; please feel free to comment below.

65 Comments
  1. Do you have any type of business to help a company discover a competitors fake positive reviews?

    • I can usually tell if they’re fake simply by glancing at them.. Is that what you’re asking? The wording, velocity, and reviewer are all giveaways. Also the quantity of reviews.. For example, a local law firm in a small town may have 2 reviews… Any more an that would look suspicious…

      • Iv seen where a company will have a reviewers review of two companies over and over by different reviewers. Like everyone will review two companies, with different reviewers.

      • I just seen this happen & have proof the business is giving them PT for getting like 70 reviews smh

    • We had a local competitor go from 0 reviews to 25, 5 star reviews in less than 2 weeks. The competitor had called our office previously under a false name (but identity was clear on our caller ID) to ask if we wanted to buy fake positive reviews. We refused and they started posting positive reviews shortly thereafter. After several calls to Google support were not helpful, we were able to connect with a Google top contributor and the issue was resolved within days. All fake reviews were removed within days. Unfortunately, the competitor has now posted fake 5-star reviews on Facebook. I am working on how to resolve that today. Anyone out there have any ideas on that?

    • Bomber eyewear clearly has fake reviews, 5-10 every day? And you cant even click on the persons name to to if it is real. The reviews are supported by yotpo. Please look in to them. every one is 5 stars.

    • Good afternoon,

      Storage post at West 301 West Fordham BX NY has bogus 5 star reviews. While the real unsatisfied customer reviews seem to get blocked/ removed.They have a severe rat infestation and poor customer service. I would like to know if there is way to get this investigated.

  2. Hello my ex boss forced us to write Google reviews I’ve deleted mine and so has my other coworker who moved away. But there’s still others up and his medical biller also created a page to write one from her bf who has never even been to the office for any reason nor has he met anyone who works there how can this be reported. Also I don’t know if you know anything about this, but he’s using our pics and we never signed a waiver giving him permission to use for his business or Web page how do I get help

  3. Ya, I just went somewhere yesterday that ended up having a lot of bad reviews but . But even more 4 star reviews from people that didn’t leave any comments. They had two local guides that gave them great reviews. I looked at the other reviews the local guide gave. She reviewed a restaurants and other things. Well at the restaurant she took a picture of a tree stump. At a movie place she took a picture of a a car in a parking lot. 4 stars for that lol. So basically they have people review and leave photos of anything. To get the title of “local reviewer” . But when it comes to there business they leave nice photos with long comments.

  4. My company has worked hard to obtain each and every review in Google. Our competition that once had a rating of 3.1 now suddenly has received 20+ 5 star review in 1 month. Hmmm. Strange, very aggravating

  5. We are into wedding invitation and printing services, we are rated as the best card designer in the town, but from last few days one of our competitor hired an agency and are putting fake 5 star reviews.

    please check:

    https://www.google.com/search?safe=off&tbm=lcl&ei=qOprW6fOA5OevQTEkKiwCw&q=green+cards+india+pune&oq=green&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.35i39k1j0i67k1l8j0i20i263k1.15857.16675.0.18639.5.5.0.0.0.0.234.645.2-3.3.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..2.3.643…0j0i131i67k1j0i131k1.0.rtjZWhVh3qo#rlfi=hd:;si:15367087394491670010;mv:!1m3!1d303.5713508352555!2d73.853864!3d18.517584499999998!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i946!2i493!4f13.1

    They have put nearly 275 fake 5 star review in span of just 2 months WHERE AS THEY ARE IN BUSINESS FROM LAST 6-7 YEARS

    let me tell you why they are fake:

    1)they are into business from last 6-7 years but never got reviews

    2) in just month of july 2018 they got nearly 150- 200 reviews ( all positive and not a single negative or less then 4 stars)

    3) on august 4th to 6th there review were 205 and on 8th they went to 303 that;s a miracle as in india its monsoon time and complete off season for people to do wedding in rains.

    4) when i sat to write this complaint there reviews were 303 and i just checked in 10 min they rose to 328.

    5) its complete off season here in India because of heavy rains no customer in market then then also they are getting average 20-25 reviews per day where as you can’t handle 3-4 clients per day in a shop of 200 s.ft.

    6) if you keep watch on there fake reviews you will notice a heavy rise in there reviews everyday.

    7) till june there reviews were some 30 – 35 and in august they rose to 328 ( its complete off season)

    8) total 328 reviews and not a single negative review there rating is 4.9 where as there earlier reviews were all negative as the owner is rude and had gone to legal prosecution several times.

    9) and now when i finished writing all this there review has gone to 342 that’s a jump from 303 to 342 in just 20 min (and still there shop is closed).

    • Agree – this couldnt me more fake. I am aware of a couple of restaurants that get 1 or 2 reviews a month now getting 20-25 reviews every day and all of them are customers reviewing them for the first time

  6. Can a car dealership legally give out fliers to customers and offer to pay them $20 cash for gas if they give them a 5 star review?

    • No. But the chances of them getting in trouble are pretty slim. They’d be dumb to put this on paper (or online)…

  7. ERG Facilities Short St, Southend-on-Sea. How are they getting away with this. A UK company being reviewed by people based in India!

  8. Raywhite marsden has been putting fake reviews on google. Grow up mate, your own staff are writing the reviews about themselves

  9. Outdoor Building Group, Glasgow. They seem to have managed to build concrete garages for people in India and the Phillippines. They also have reviews from a couple of people who have review the same businesses across the UK and have a liking for fried chicken. The owners responses to the couple of genuine reviews is interesting too.

    In this case the reviews really helped me. I had been considering the company but after I’ve seen how they treat genuine customers and how completely dishonest they are I wouldn’t touch them with a bargepole!

  10. I left a bad google review for a bakery last month. Later that day an almost identical review was posted which clearly was a copy of my post with a positive spin. It is very obvious to be a forgery. I went to update mine to say beware of review but didn’t save that, as it could discredit me and other real reviews. Can I report this?

  11. Power home remodeling. So many fake reviews for such a large company. Some are even copy an paste.

  12. Yeah I worked at the Zaxbys in Greenacres Florida, more than half of the positive reviews are fake. The owner (javed) asked the employees to write them after he kept getting low rating from customers. Is there a number I can call so that I can get them all removed at once?

    • In the article is everything there is to know about getting them removed. You’d have to get evidence to Google via those forums I mentioned.

  13. The type of business we’re in doesn’t generally drum up reviews. We rent cranes for a living and I have found that reviews left for these types of businesses are usually negative or nothing.
    there is a small company in our town that has run up many 5 star reviews, so obviously fake. Some are from family, some from the business owner himself. I left a 1 star review because he’s been riding our coat tails tailoring his name to be just like ours. What a mistake that was. He sent his little assistant after us and made my life hell. She was a stalker, very very scary. So I don’t know how to deal with his fake reviews, fake photos and fake service. Any suggestions? I’ve already approached the BBB. Thanks

    • Unfortunately, I don’t have any great suggestions. In this case you’d have to bend the rules a bit and aggressively get your own links. I hate to say that, but this is a monster Google created.

  14. 2 years ago this place cox auto sales and cox auto group in Delaware was a 1.2 rating on google reviews. They are now at 4.5 and all the reviews are being paid out by the owner of the company. $75 a review for everyone to do one with 5 stars. This place needs to be shut down for all the bad things they are doing selling cars that break down in one day and all reviews are perfect. I’m sure if your getting paid $75 a review

  15. Estate agency I use who are absolute trash has either 5* reviews or 1* reviews. I believe almost every single 5* review is fake. When checking other review sites like yelp for the agency it is full of 1* reviews. Also the 5* reviews are almost all by people who have only made 1-3 other reviews and those are to other branches of the same company!

    Its absolutely horrific because if the google rating wasn’t so high when I signed the tenancy agreement I probably would’ve never signed it.

    You can see for yourself here :
    https://www.google.com/search?q=humphreys+estate+agents+leicester&rlz=1C1CHZL_enGB763GB763&oq=hu&aqs=chrome.0.69i59l2j69i57j35i39j0l2.684j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

  16. Recently I had a contractor come to my home for an estimate for home repairs. I did not choose this company but discovered within 2 weeks they falsely put my entire name on their website with a 4 star review. I NEVER reviewd them or gave permission to use my name.i susepect they did this time raise their rating as they had several complaints which lowered their rating. Do I have any legal course of action. My entire name is out there.

    • Yes, possibly. This is against FTC regulations (not that they’ll enforce it) and they should not be using your name. You could speak to a lawyer for legal advice..

  17. Hello,

    Owner of business is having his employees, wife leaving 5 star reviews for his two business.
    The owner owns two business and have posted on both website. I have flag numerous times, google has not removed. I

  18. The company Review Boost charges businesses to post reviews for them on Google and other websites. They just name the profiles A Google User and Google User. They have thousands of fake accounts.

  19. I had a very bad experience at a dentist office. My wife found them because they are close to us and all their reviews on Google are 5 stars. After we went, we did some more research and found that they have a very bad rating on Yelp. All the reviews are either 5-star or 1-star. Obviously many are fake. Google Page: https://goo.gl/maps/7k9CGofHUo12, Yelp Page: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lovett-dental-webster. What is the best way to report this?

  20. Cheshire Home Interiors. As soon as they get a negative. Several positive reviews withing an hour.

  21. There’s a business called American Income Life in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A few weeks ago, they had a 3 star rating and maybe 10 reviews. They are now at over 800 reviews and have a 5 star rating. Multiple reviews are posted each day. This seems like the company is posting them under proxies or is forcing customers to review them. This is terribly misleading.

  22. We hired John Hancock Contracting in 2018 – they had lots of 5-star reviews and a few 1-star reviews. That should’ve been a red flag. John Hancock is a scammer and a conman, we fired him after a few months for too many reasons to list here. When looking more closely at his reviews, we could see that all of the 5-star reviews were written by people in India and other countries, and all of their reviews were 5-stars for companies all over the world. It is clear that he paid for these reviews. It’s not fair because we trusted the 5-star reviews and got scammed as a result. We learned to really do our research before believing a Google review.

  23. We purchased a sewing machine from Nova Sewing in Hamilton Ontario that was advertised as half price. When we received the machine we found that it was defective and did not sew. We contacted the seller and he refused to replace the machine or issue a refund. We left a negative review on Google, only to find that within hours they had several 5-star reviews placed on top of ours. We found this strange that they had no reviews for several months and usually only had a handful each year but suddenly they had over a years worth of 5-star’s with glowing comments in a matter of hours.

    Upon checking out the names we found that at least one of the comments came from one of their sales reps. Several others were from out of country or by people with large numbers of reviews. When I pointed this out on the Google Review page, my review and comment was taken down. This is totally unfair and leaves the next sucker to read the reviews thinking that this is the best place on earth to buy a sewing machine.

  24. Oh…forgot to mention that the half-price ad was false advertising. It ended up that we paid exactly what the sewing machine sells for in all other stores. We were only led to believe that the sewing machine had been marked down by half but weren’t aware that it had been marked up by double the price first.

  25. Hey, I know someone is writing fake positive reviews on google for their own buisness. How do I report them ? On the community forum I found no option on how to create a post. Please help me

  26. I believe Bayshore Community Hospital in New Jersey is mass creating fake 5 star reviews. I can’t do anything about it myself sadly.

  27. A company in Delray Beach called Purlawn, LLC. appears to have purchased fake google reviews. When I was considering them they suggested that I go and read their reviews as proof of service quality. The thing is, all 13 of their reviews are 5 star reviews and all say pretty much the same thing using different words. Also, the people who “wrote” the reviews either haven’t written reviews for anyone else or they have but they are all in different states. Am I crazy or is this a case of a company buying good reviews?

    https://www.pur-lawn.com/google-reviews/ takes you to their reviews.

  28. Stablelift Foundation Repair in New Braunfels/San Antonio Texas has numerous fake positive reviews on Google, Facebook, and other sites. I guess they didn’t know how easy it is to do a Google image search. One of the fake accounts they set up has Meg Ryan’s homecoming photo as their profile pictures. They have been getting a lot of negative reviews because quite a few of the foundations they are “repairing” are failing…like mine. They destroyed my house, and I was wondering why they had so many positive reviews. I started doing a little research and TADAH, most of their positive reviews are fake.

    This is the company’s website – http://www.stableliftfoundationrepair.com

  29. Just a thought – what about posting your own negative fake review for the competitor, pointing out the fact that their positive reviews are fake? Yes, the competitor could themselves report it to Google, but they may think twice, if they think that doing so would result in their positive fake reviews being scrutinised. Of course sooner or later the review will be outdated, but one could always edit it to bring it back up to the most recent.

  30. Five star realty based in Pinellas Park FL. Wicked amount of fake reviews. They even messed up and used the company account for one. Most reviews are from people with an incentive or accounts with only one review. Some are even celebrity names. It’s a bad company in reality that does not care for their customers. They also bad mouth and drop names in their responses.

  31. Company got 17 5 star reviews within 1 hour. Would this justify as enough evidence? The reviews are not very descriptive and to me jump off the page as fake. They have been open 4 years and had 152. 1 hour later they had 169. Thank you in advance for the advice. We work very hard for our customers and don’t like seeing this competitor do this.

  32. I am presently dealing with the aftermath from buying a used car from a small dealership in Las Vegas Nevada based on their five star reviews. Their service and credibility couldn’t be further from five stars!! It has been one of the most stressful and upsetting dealings I have ever had with auto sales. In fact, their reviews on every web site I could find has been “five star”…funny how all the reviews only mention one name..the liar who sold me a car. I know they are fake but do not know how to stop it.

  33. Hi,

    Great post, challenging one as I posted a negative review against a company “Hello Services Limited” and within hours of the bad review there were multiple 5* reviews, I cannot tell what the incentive is other than the business trying to hide their bad service. Interesting to see that as UK company a lot of the 5* reviews originate from people who clearly live in India due to multiple indian business reviews. What can I do at this point?
    Thanks

    • Unfortunately, in this case, there’s likely nothing that can be done. “Google My Business” is basically a dumpster fire right now..

  34. Hello,

    A verizon store employee recently got on my phone to leave herself a good review without my permission when I left the store. After finding this, I discovered that almost every single review recently has an employee’s name in it and happened to come from someone who has only ever left one review and it happens to be to the store. The manager and owner are not taking this very seriously.

  35. Here’s a great one to investigate. Greenwood Credit Union (of Rhode Island). They had a 1 star rating until the last year they’ve been getting a massive amount of 5 stars and they always come in bunches after a 1 star. The 5 star responses are robotic type of talking and usually from a person who only wrote 1 review ever. Hmmmmm.

  36. A driving school I attend offers the students extra credit to leave good reviews on social media sites and on google (The teacher goes around and checks to see the review before actually giving the credit, and looking at the google page for my location you’ll find a ton of generic 5 star reviews and a 1 star section with a few people calling them out on how their children were manipulated into leaving the reviews). Now, I read a few pages of the link you posted about the legality, and what I couldn’t tell was if the reviewers had to be paid with money to make it illegal, or if it is any sort of incentive that will do. They’re still scum either way, I just want to know if the law recognizes so or not.

  37. I worked for a contractor who hired a new SEO guy about a year ago. Overnight, we had over 30 five star reviews added to Google. They are all fake. I have all the financial and contract information and can prove we never did work for these people. Also, when a bad review is written the SEO guy adds more fake reviews to boost the rating back up and to move the bad review down hoping people won’t scroll down to see them. He is committing consumer fraud. If I contact Google or the FTC, will they do anything about this?

  38. Here is a great company to investigate – hampton restoration group in canton ga. This company posted 25 5-star rating reviews in the past month – 13 of which were in the past week? The company has been in business for under a year and has almost 80 reviews? 30 of which are ratings with 1 review history, and 10 of which have turned to “Google User” with no identity. This company has also had three positive reviews on yelp that were not recommended and taken down due to legitimacy. This company prides themselves on 5-star reviews yet they do not seem to be authentic given the context in which they are written, timing, dates, and overwhelming amount of 5 star ratings in the past week. I just wanted to bring to the attention of Google to look into to keep Google Accurate. This is false advertisement.

  39. to be honest I just gave a review to a hosting company for their absolute garbage service and for their customer support. But was actually surprised to see that there are tons of 5star reviews, so started actually scrolling down to check all the reviews, and as you said in the post the 1*and 2* reviews are buried deep under the fake reviews. The company name is creative on hosting, its local lahore(pakistan based ) company with absolute **** service, and their support is always rude.

  40. Abe’s of Maine has tons of fake reviews on Google and other platforms. They’re easy to spot. Most reviewers have a couple of reviews and review the same couple of businesses. They rotate to Abe’s +1 or 2 other businesses. Can’t believe they’re still getting away with this as they’ve been doing it a long time and are a big company.

  41. https://www.google.com/search?ei=IhjZXdyuHsz99QPj36ugDQ&q=d+khushalbhai+jewellers+surat+gujarat&oq=d+khushalbhai&gs_l=psy-ab.1.3.35i39j0j0i20i263l2j0j0i22i30l4j0i22i10i30.1325180.1328231..1334695…0.2..0.160.1860.0j13….2..0….1..gws-wiz…….0i71j0i273j0i131i273j0i67j0i131j0i10j0i333.Vc9BhFfnNf0

    I am not sure if the link above is the way you leave a link but these guys are my competitors and are leaving fake 5 star reviews. how do i report them.

  42. I was asked today by an employee of an attorney to leave a fake 5 star review of her boss. She said she wasn’t having this conversation with me, because of her non disclosure agreement, but she was indeed solicited by her boss to ask some friends to write fake 5 star reviews.

    My question is this: if someone were to hire that attorney based on his positive reviews. and were to be convictrd of a crime or lose a lot of money, could they scrutinize the reviews and upon finding my fake review, which would stick out like a sore thumb, I live in Washington State and the attorney practices in Florida, could I have my ass sued off for damages?

    Opinions?

  43. There is coaching institute for GMAT called top one percent looking at their 5 star review I joined them only to realize they are fake and offer nothing what they say and don’t even have good faculty.

    How do I report to Google and get their fake reviews removed as they must be duping lot of innocent people because of this.

    They offered me $150 to remove my negative review on them on Google when they called me for meeting. But I am not gonna do that also they took $500 for me for their fake course, help tx

  44. I used yo work for a guy that moved his business to LA. Was just looking at his reviews to see how well he was faring in the LA market. Google rating was 4.9 with only one, 1 star rating. The one star appeared to be upset that his google info had been used to give a five star rating to this business. One star lives in ATL and stated he had never done business with them and had never even been to LA. Threatened legal action. So I called and asked my old boss why this guy wanted to sue him. He said the guy was confused and posted on the wrong site. Ok, I wished him and his wife the best and hung up. Within 5 minutes reply was posted by owner to remove the his post because his 1 star was given to wrong business. The next morning post had been removed. I thought there is no way one star had removed it. I started to examine the 5 star ratings and 90% of the 200+ posts were from 4 months ago. No way. One 5 star review from 2 months ago was actually posted by his wife. The guy is middle eastern and has a very unique name. The first name was different but the middle and last was an exact match to his name. When I google that name it came up that he was the owner on record for that business. I always thought he was a smart guy, not so much anymore.

    • I forgot to mention that he actually replied to thank himself for leaving such a nice 5 star review. Things must be tough out there in Cali.

  45. The company I am currently employed by (not for long I am being made redundant) asked us all to write fake reviews for the sales company attatched to us on trust pilot due to the dropping reputation of the company on there, I have screen shots of being asked to do so also of some of the reviews by other employees, what should I do?

  46. I also know that the company has furloughed some members of staff and still keeping them working whilst on furlough and would love to know where to report them for this if anyone knows

  47. I have found a android app developer that do fake 5 star rating reviews to increase rating ,I have full proof where he pay members and give them link to all type of business reviews and pay them in return.My question is how can I report this to google and will google ban that app if I provide them full evidence?

  48. Businesses who give themselves fake positive reviews can be a serious problem if they are doing it because they are literally scamming/stealing from their legitimate customers. New marks see the positive reviews and then get taken advantage of by crooks. This happened to us with Gem State RV Repair in Boise Idaho. This company is really just a single individual who takes people’s money upfront and then never does the work. Nearly all of his five star reviews are by people who have never reviewed anyone else. All the negative ones show his true MO. He stole a thousand dollars from us. Google really should have better controls over these types of frauds.

  49. Fake positive reviews are so easy to spot. For example, just look at the profiles of the people reviewing them. One local company had 22 5 star reviews. Out of the 22, 17 of them had reviews from people who reviewed the exact same 5 companies from all over the country. They all review a construction company in VA, a cleaning company in Raleigh N.C., a heating company in NY. All within days of each other. These people either do some serious traveling to their many homes across the country, or they are fake.

  50. Overchuck Law Firm in Orlando…

    Almost all their reviews are from either 2 years ago or 4 months ago. All from accounts with 1-3 reviews, no pictures, and no other activity. Many of the reviews follow the same format of “I didn’t even work with him, but everyone says he’s great!” or are two sentences of universal praise.

    ALL 5 star reviews. Literally out of 235 reviews, over 225 are flawless 5 star reviews, and are two sentences of flawless positivity. Never a 3 or 4 star. The business owner mostly only replies to these pictureless, short reviews.

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