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Fake Yelp review? Pay a fine – The Star-Ledger

Fake it until you make it on Yelp or Google+ and you could be pay some very real fines.

Nineteen companies throughout the tri-state area, some of them with locations in New Jersey, admitted to participating in astroturfing, or paying for positive reviews on Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google+ Local and other review websites. The companies that paid for and sold fake reviews agreed to pay fines totaling $350,000, said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman yesterday.

The attorney general said one of the agents in his office posed as the owner of a Brooklyn yogurt shop. When the agent called search engine optimization companies asking for help, he was told he could pay for positive reviews.

One such “reputation” company only hired freelance writers if their Yelp accounts were more than three months old, showed they had written at least 15 reviews and had friended 10 people on the website.

There’s a lot of incentive to boost online ratings. Increase your restaurant’s Yelp rating by one star and watch your revenue increase by as much as 9 percent, according to an oft-cited Harvard Business School study.

A similar study from Cornell University professors found hotels stand to gain 11 percent in revenue when they improve their Yelp score.

The 19 companies that agreed to pay fines for either charging money for fake reviews or paying a company to post them on their behalf are:

• AE Wig Fashions, Inc., which did business as NYS Surgery Center

• A.H. Dental P.C., which did business as Platinum Dental

• Body Laster Spa Inc.

• The Block Group, LLC, which did business as Laser Cosmetica and LC MedSpa, LLC

• Bread and Butter NY, LLC, which did business as La Pomme Nightclub and Events Space

• Envision MT Corp.

• iSEOiSEO

• Medical Massage Clinic and HerballYours.com

• Metamorphosis Day Spa, Inc.

• Outer Beauty, P.C., Lite Touch Plastic Surgery, P.C., Staten Island Special Surgery, P.C. and Sans Pareil Surgical, PLLC

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• Stillwater Media Group

• Swan Media Group, Inc. and Scores Media Group, LLC

• US Coachways Limousine, Inc. and US Coachways, Inc.

• Utilities International, Inc., doing business as Main Street Host

• The Web Empire, LLC

• Webtools, LLC and Webtools Internet Solutions Ltd.

• West Village Teeth Whitening Service, LLC; Magic Smile, Inc. and Magic Smile

• XVIO, Inc.

• Zamdel, Inc., doing business as eBoxed

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Mystic Maggie

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