Houston, TX

There is an extortion scam threatening Houston restaurants

Ash Jurberg

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Unfortunately, negative feedback about your establishment has been left by us. And will appear in the future, one review a day. We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business, but we have no further choice. The fact is that we live in India and see no other way to survive.”

The message above was received by the popular Houston restaurant, Bludhorn. They were one of several Houston restaurants targeted by scammers in India attempting to extort money from them. It was a similar message received by other restaurants in Houston, including Daily Gather, Georgia James, and Loch Bar.

The restaurants were threatened with negative one-star reviews on Google unless they paid a fee of $75 to the scammers. The scammers then explained they would make $50 from this, equivalent to three weeks of income in India.

For restaurants, their livelihood depends on positive reviews, and the scammers inundated Google with negative reviews causing the Bludhorn's overall rating on Google to drop from 4.8 to 4.5

Google is so powerful. Someone visiting or new to this city, this is the easiest way to search for a restaurant in America, and the number is telling, and so it’s completely damaging.” Aaron Bludhorn

While Google is investigating the matter, the restaurant owners are appealing to their loyal customers to counteract the malicious scammers by posting positive reviews on Google.

Readers, do you think Google should make more attempts to verify the identities of people leaving reviews? Have you been to any of the Houston restaurants affected, and if so, what was your experience?

Please leave your comments below.

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