Do you want to have a top ranked restaurant? Apparently all it takes is a few pictures and 10 amazing reviews to make your dream a reality at TripAdvisor.
The staff of, Italia a Tavola, a hospitality trade magazine in Italy, created a fake restaurant, “Ristorante Scaletta”, located in Moniga del Garda, in Lombardia, Italy. Then they posted bogus reviews to see if it could con TripAdvisor in order to test their reviews and rating system.
Well all it took was ten perfect-score reviews in less than one month’s time (filled with words like “Emotional” and “Finally!”) and “Ristorante Scaletta” became the top eatery in all of Moniga del Garda.
The newspaper claims that this shows TripAdvisor’s reviewing system is flawed and open to manipulation. When they contacted the business reviewing website to explain their experiment, the listing for La Scaletta was immediately removed.
TripAdvisor deny that the case suggests their system is flawed. A spokesperson for the company told The Independent: “As the world’s most visited travel site, we are absolutely committed to ensuring that the content on TripAdvisor provides a trusted and useful source of information for those planning a trip anywhere in the world. In this instance, we investigated and removed from the site the listing and reviews that failed to meet our guidelines.
“It is a pretty meaningless experiment to create a fake listing or reviews just to try and catch us out, since that is completely different from the fraud we see and catch on a daily basis. We know that, when fraudsters attempt to manipulate the rankings on our site, they leave behind patterns that we can and do trace.
Although fake restaurant might be rare, fake reviews are probably a bigger problem. Always make sure to check more than one source when planning a trip, especially in areas you’re not familiar with.