Is a phony Yelp review a felony?

by Joe Zekas on 1/20/12

Last Saturday we called attention to a pattern of suspicious reviews of Reside Living buildings at Yelp.

The first positive review of Reside at Belmont Harbor, 426 W Belmont Ave, had been flagged by Yelp’s review filter. The two new reviews we called attention to in our post have also been deemed suspect by Yelp, leaving only a single one-star review immediately visible.

In the last 3 days five friendless Yelp newbies have posted glowing reviews of Reside on Morse, 1340 W Morse Ave. Three of those reviews were posted today. I’m betting they also wind up in Yelp’s review filter as suspect.

If these reviews are deliberately deceptive, do they fall within the scope of the Illinois Computer Fraud Act and amount to a Class 4 felony?

One high-profile, widely-publicized felony prosecution would put a stop to a great deal of the deception we see originating from parts of Chicago’s real estate community.

Added: The Reside on Morse reviews at Yelp have been posted, verbatim, on ApartmentRatings.com. The screen names differ on a number of the posts.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ben L January 21, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Here’s an interesting article out of the Bay Area about the possibility that Yelp may not act as an impartial feedback aggregator, even when businesses are acting honestly (as opposed to how these rental companies appear to be acting).

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