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Spot red flags & thwart fake reviews

Fake reviews can have an impact on a business's reputation, sales, and legal standing, so victims need to identify & address them asap

Fake reviews are not just a thorn in the side, an accommodation business’s bottom line relies heavily on maintaining its excellent reputation, so it’s vital a victim can spot the red flags that indicate fake reviews and deal with them.

Global travel guidance platform, Tripadvisor identified and removed 1.3 million fake reviews in 2022, and stated they only made up a fraction of the overall number of reviews received. And the recently released third edition of Tripadvisor’s Review Transparency Report 2022,  revealed how it keeps its platform fair and safe.

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The report stated, in 2022 the platform’s total reviews grew by more than 20 percent to over 30.2 million, and of those just 4.4 percent (1.3 million) of reviews were identified as fake and removed, with 72 percent caught before being posted.

What is a fake review?


A review that has been intentionally written to deceive readers and misrepresent the quality of a business, it can take several forms:

  • Paid reviews: Reviews written by people paid to write positive reviews for a business, regardless of their actual experience.
  • Fake accounts: Reviews written by people who create fake accounts to leave multiple positive reviews for their own business or negative reviews for their competitors.
  • Review swaps: Reviews that are written by businesses who agree to review each other positively in order to boost their own ratings.
  • Incentivised reviews: Reviews written by people who have been offered a reward or incentive in exchange for leaving a review.


  • Too good to be true or excessively negative. Real reviews tend to be balanced and reflect a range of experiences.
  • Look at the reviewer’s profile. They’ve only left one review or left multiple reviews for the same business or only for businesses in the same industry – all red flags.
  • A review that lacks specifics. Authentic reviews tend to include specific details about the experience, such as dates and any notable interactions with staff. 
  • A sudden surge of positive reviews or a flood of negative reviews within a short period of time could be a sign of fake reviews.
  • Poor grammar or spelling mistakes can be red flags. Additionally, if the language and writing style seem too similar across multiple reviews, it could also be a sign of fake reviews.

In conclusion, approach reviews with a critical eye and look at the overall pattern of reviews rather than just one or two individuals.


Warning Sign Fake Reviews


How does Tripadvisor spot fake and paid reviews?


Tripadvisor says it has robust detection and moderation processes in place, to look for:

  • Review boosting: when someone connected to the business such as an owner, employee, or family member posts a positive review.
  • Review vandalism: when someone connected to a competing business submits a deliberately malicious review about a business to unfairly lower its ranking position or discredit it in some way. 
  • Paid reviews: when a business employs the services of an individual or a firm to boost its ranking position on Tripadvisor with positive reviews.
  • Member fraud: when a user knowingly and/or maliciously submits a review in violation of our guidelines, potentially with the intent of affecting a property’s ranking, but does so independently and not influenced by a property listed on Tripadvisor.

It states that “fraud detection technology and expert investigative teams incorporate proactive techniques from the banking and credit card industry to map hundreds of discrete pieces of information, designed to detect the review’s origin and context or to spot a potential connection to other reviews or reviewer accounts. This includes establishing patterns of suspicious behavior from paid review operations as well”.

Once fraudulent content has been identified and removed, Tripadvisor takes a range of actions against offending businesses, including content bans, ranking penalties, and for the most severe cases, red badges.

Becky Foley, Vice President, Trust & Safety at Tripadvisor said: “Platforms like ours are built on trust, so we never stop learning and improving our systems to ensure our community has access to honest, accurate content.

“The findings from this report show that our approach is working; we’re catching a higher proportion of fraudulent content before it is published, with nearly three-quarters of fake reviews never even making it to the platform.”

What’s the best way for you to deal with a fake review?


If you believe that you have received a fake review, there are several steps you can take:

  • Respond to the review: If the review is on a platform that allows you to respond, consider a polite and professional response. Address any specific concerns or issues raised and provide your own perspective on the situation.
  • Flag the review: Most review platforms have a system for flagging reviews that violate their policies, this should prompt the platform to investigate and potentially remove them.
  • Reach out to the platform: If flagging the review does not lead to action, consider reaching out directly to explain your concerns and provide evidence. Be prepared to provide specific examples and documentation to support your claim.
  • Take legal action: In some cases, it may be appropriate to take legal action against the individual or business that posted the fake review. Consult with a lawyer to determine the best course of action.

Remember that it’s important to handle fake reviews professionally, an overly aggressive or defensive response can make the situation worse.

Stay calm and focus on the facts.

Adobe Stock By mayrum


What is the best way for you to respond to a fake review?


  • Keep your response professional and constructive, focus on providing accurate information, and resolving any issues raised.


AdobeStock By Ascannio

And finally, AccomNews asked Open AI for a good example of a fake review:


“I recently stayed at the XYZ Hotel and I have to say, it was the worst hotel experience I’ve ever had. The rooms were dirty and smelled terrible, the staff was rude and unhelpful, and the food in the restaurant was inedible. I wouldn’t recommend this hotel to anyone.”

Open AI said: “This review is likely fake because it is overly negative and doesn’t provide any specific details or examples to support its claims. Additionally, the reviewer doesn’t mention anything positive about the hotel, which is often a red flag for fake reviews.”



“Dear [Reviewer’s Name], We’re sorry to hear that your experience at our hotel was less than satisfactory. However, we have no record of your stay with us and your review doesn’t provide any specific details or examples to help us identify the issues you encountered. We take all feedback seriously and strive to provide the best possible experience for our guests.

We kindly ask you to contact us directly with more information about your stay so we can investigate the matter and make any necessary improvements.

Thank you for your feedback. Best regards, [Hotel Manager’s Name]”

Open AI added: “This response is polite, and professional, and seeks to address the reviewer’s concerns while also acknowledging that the review may be fake. The hotel manager doesn’t get defensive or confrontational but instead asks the reviewer to provide more information so that they can address the issues raised.

“It’s important to always respond to negative reviews in a professional and courteous manner, even if the review is unfounded or seems unreasonable. A humorous or sarcastic response can come across as defensive or unprofessional and may further damage your reputation. Instead, focus on providing accurate information and addressing any concerns raised by the reviewer.”

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