Last week in San Francisco district court, Yelp sued Timothy Catron, the apparent owner of the websites AdBlaze and BuyYelpReview, for selling fake reviews for the website, according to court documents first unearthed by the Daily Dot.
“Yelp constantly battles the problem of fake reviews online and has developed sophisticated technologies to filter such content, which is harmful to consumers,” the company’s attorneys laid out in the legal filing.
The suit alleges that Catron operated a marketplace for companies seeking fake reviews and individuals who used Yelp accounts to publish such reviews. The reviews sold for $ 24.95, which means the reviewers likely earned substantially more per word than most professional writers do; the going price of a fake Yelp review on Craigslist is significantly lower.
BuyYelpReview offered Yelp deals to those using its services, thus repeatedly violating Yelp’s terms of service, according to the court papers.
Yelp says it “surreptitiously purchased false reviews” from BuyYelpReview, thereby confirming that it belonged Catron and his associates.
Yelp accuses the defendant of a gamut of crimes, including copyright infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and brand dilution. The suit demands three times Canton’s profits or the damages it suffered as harm to its brand, whichever is greater.
Yelp hosts 39 million reviews and sees more than 100 million monthly unique visitors to its website, the filings also said.
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