A Russian marketing agency is offering to write fake reviews for restaurants in 2018 World Cup host cities in a bid to bump up their ratings on review site TripAdvisor.
Bacon Agency - the company behind the reviewing scam - claims it can evade TripAdvisor’s algorithm for detecting fraudulent posts and publish reviews ahead of the World Cup competition in June.
A restaurant in one of the host cities received a brochure from Bacon agency, which asks, “What can you do if no Serbs and no Swedes have ever been to your venue and left a review?”
“You write it yourself!” it says.
The agency guarantees a spot in TripAdvisor’s top 10 list for a token of 35,000 rubles ($570). They said, “We are offering to help tourists find you, and to leave their money specifically with you,”
“Our dedicated investigations team is proactive and extremely effective at catching those trying to solicit fake reviews for money," they added.
However, nobody has accepted the accepted the offer as confirmed by Bacon Agency owner Roman Baldanov. "The response we got was: thanks, but we are already doing this ourselves," he said.
Fake reviews are nothing new, but it is quite surprising for a company involved in the act to discuss it so openly.
The World Cup is a lucrative opportunity for businesses in the World Cup host cities to benefit from fans from across the globe, especially now that Russians are feeling the heat from a collapsing economy and Western sanctions.