As consumers turn more frequently to online reviews to make buying decisions, the role that the sources of these reviews takes on becomes more important. Industry leader Yelp has started taking some steps to prevent these reviews, but it is a moving target for the business model.

Fake or exaggerated reviews can misrepresent the true nature of the business or product either for good or bad. In some cases a competitor or disgruntled customer can post fictitious negative reviews driving down the perceived quality of the company. This causes actual damage to the firm and can be a cause for legal action. A qualified investigation can discover the source of the reviews and provide intel for a lawsuit or other legal action.

On the business side, companies can pay PR firms to post multiple fake positive reviews to boost their companies reputation. Firms such as Glowing Reviews represent that they will post multiple reviews in support of a client company. This business model has come under fire from site hosting the comments. Vehicle data site recently filed suit against fake review writers claiming that they defraud visitors and violate their terms and conditions.

“The lawsuit was filed in Texas on Tuesday. Among other things, the lawsuit accuses them of fraud and breach of the membership agreement.¬†Online reviews have become a major factor in consumer decision-making, with businesses failing on negative ratings. Reputation management and public relations firms have popped up to help businesses improve their online identities.”