Last week in San Francisco district court, Yelp sued Timothy Catron for selling fake reviews for the website on the websites AdBlaze and BuyYelpReview, according to court documents.
“Yelp constantly battles the problem of fake reviews online and has developed sophisticated technologies to filter such content, which is harmful to consumers,” the company’s attorneys laid out in the legal filing.
The suit alleges that Catron operated marketplaces first on AdBlaze and then on BuyYelpReview that connected companies seeking fake reviews with individuals using their Yelp accounts to publish such reviews. The reviews sold for $24.95; the going price of a fake Yelp review on Craigslist is significantly lower.
BuyYelpReview offered Yelp deals to those using its services, thus repeatedly violating Yelp’s terms of service, according to the court papers.
Yelp first found AdBlaze, which featured the Yelp logo, and sent Catron a cease-and-desist letter. The website was removed.
Yelp then discovered BuyYelpReview, where it “surreptitiously purchased false reviews,” thereby discovering that it, too, belonged Catron and his associates.
Yelp accuses the defendant of a gamut of crimes, including copyright infringement, false advertising, unfair competition and brand dilution. The company seeks three times Canton’s profits or the damages it suffered as harm to its brand, whichever is greater.
Yelp draws more than 100 million monthly unique visitors to its website.
The lawsuit was first reported by the Daily Dot.