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>> Soccer fans descending on Russia for the World Cup could find eating out leaves a bitter taste. Reuters has found a huge uptick in fake positive reviews for restaurants in the country, trying to lure tourists. And it's become so blatant that a marketing company called Bacon Agency is openly seeking food joints wanting to dupe people online.
Reuters' Polina Evanova over in Moscow has been investigating.>> Reuters saw a detailed strategy document from Bacon Agency outlining exactly how they would get around the TripAdvisor algorithm that is used to detect fradulent posts. They would use different IP addresses, different devices, different computers, and different software in order to make sure that fraudulent posts were not connected and therefore not recognized by TripAdvisor.
>> Here's an example, an Italian restaurant Reuters found close to the stadium in Kaliningrad. It received on average about one review a week, until about two weeks ago, when a flood of positive reviews suddenly propelled it from 28th on TripAdvisor's list to second place. The vast bulk of reviewers were new accounts using stock photos.
When questioned by Reuters, the restaurant said it was all legitimate.>> We asked Bacon Agency how widespread this practice is, and they said, it was so widespread that there was no demand for their service. No one wanted to hire them because everyone was already doing it themselves.>> The agency acknowledged this practice was illegitimate in the eyes of TripAdvisor, but insisted they only acted as middlemen.
Even so, World Cup fans would be wise to take all online reviews with a pinch of salt.