Here's a gem from the New York Times report on the same:
The investigation revealed a web of deceit in which reviewers in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Eastern Europe produced, for as little as a dollar a rave, buckets of praise for places they had never seen in countries where they had never been. In some cases, the reputation shops bribed their clients’ customers to write more fake reviews, giving them $50 gift certificates for their trouble. They also went on review sites that criticized their own fake-review operations and wrote fake reviews denying they wrote fake reviews.
The NYT report mentions only SEO company Mainstreethost. But the Attorney General's site reveals the names of several others SEO and Digital Marketing agencies among those who paid up $350,000 in penalties, along with an assurance on ceasing their misleading practices. Here are a few of the fake review creators we identified from the New York AG's list:
Here's how one of the SEO companies advertised for a reviewer:
We need a person that can post multiple positive reviews on major REVIEW sites. Example: Google Maps, Yelp, CitySearch. Must be from different IP addresses… So you must be able to have multiple IPs. The reviews will be only few sentences long. Need to have some understanding on how Yelp filters works. Previous experience is a plus…just apply --)we are a marketing company.
The stakes are so high that they couldn't resist taking the short cut to making money. It might prove a costly mistake.