Before visiting a restaurant or trying a product, many people usually go straight to the reviews.
Experts say fake reviews are becoming more common and harder to identify.
Former US researcher Kay Dean now runs “Fake Review Watch”, a YouTube channel that exposes fake reviews.
“It’s very misleading to consumers and I’m just trying to shine a light,” Dean said.
She used a Melbourne dentist as an example, who has 1,300 mostly five-star reviews.
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She said that among the legitimate comments from patients, there were also dozens of suspicious testimonials.
Commenting on the site, reviewer “Cloe” left the review, “beautiful new veneer and, of course, a new me”.
Cloe’s Google profile reveals that she has also reviewed a restaurant in France and a hookah shop in the United States.
Another person who claimed to have visited the dentist in Melbourne, “Berrett”, also viewed the same American hookah shop and Indian restaurant in London.
“I don’t believe those are real people, those are fake profiles,” Dean said.
Another Melbourne company, a painter from Preston, had a dozen or so five-star reviews from people who are also in favor of an air duct purifier in the US.
The Melbourne dentist said they had repeatedly contacted Google with a request to remove any fake reviews.
“My suspicion would be that this is a fake review,” Dean said.
Last year, Google removed more than 95 million reviews and more than seven fake business profiles that violated its policy.
Adrian Camilleri, senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, said fraudsters tried their best to appear real.
“I’ve seen a lot of estimates ranging from 10 percent of reviews are fake, to 30 percent of reviews are fake,” he said.
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Signs that a review may not be legit include reviewers who use stock photos as their profile pictures, businesses that only have five-star views, and poor spelling and grammar.