The Competition and Markets Authority has ordered a company to stop writing fake reviews for small businesses and to try to ensure the removal of those that have been written and displayed online.
The company involved - Total SEO & Marketing, more commonly known as Total SEO - was unable to tell Estate Agent Today what clients or business sectors the fake reviews applied to.
But it is known that during 2014 and 2015 Total SEO wrote over 800 fake positive reviews for 86 small businesses that were published across 26 different websites which contain customer reviews.
“We’re anticipating that the reviews will be taken down by the end of March or beginning of April” a Total SEO spokeswoman told Estate Agent Today.
The subject of fake reviews has been a hot potato in the property sector, especially in relation to estate agencies.
Last month we reported that the CMA had updated its advice to all online review sites - including those for estate agencies and other property players - to ensure greater transparency for consumers.
The CMA is writing to Total SEO’s clients to warn them that third parties writing fake reviews on their behalf might lead to them breaking the law themselves. Some of the businesses concerned were in the motoring and landscape gardening sectors but other unidentified sectors were involved too.
A statement from the authority says this is its latest action to ensure that consumers can trust in the opinions that they read on online, following the CMA’s report last summer into online reviews and endorsements.
More announcements from the CMA are expected in the coming weeks.