Several high-end restaurants in San Francisco said they were hit by a flood of overwhelming negative reviews.
This is a Google review scam that looks a lot like extortion.
Along with negative reviews, scammers email owners demanding money to stop posting the one-star reviews.
It happened at the 3rd Cousin restaurant in Bernal Heights over the 4th of July weekend.
The incident also happened at the Nightbird Restaurant, located on Gough Street.
“I would say it’s been a really tough two years,” said Kim Alter, chef and owner of Nightbird. “In all honesty, it’s probably a very small thing to get these one-star reviews. But I think that was just kind of the tipping point. I was like ‘this is ridiculous’. We we kind of fight for reservations with so many other restaurants so for just one person to post ten one star reviews someone might not look past those and someone might not walk in.
A similar scam was circulating in 2018. It is now back in San Francisco, Chicago and several other American cities.
Google encourages users and business owners to report suspicious activity to them.
In a statement, they wrote in part: “Our team is actively investigating this situation and has already begun removing instances of content violating the policy. Our policies clearly state that reviews should be based on real experiences.”