All of us are familiar with our Nigerian friend who e-mails us and just needs a little help so he can share millions of dollars with us. The scam that lives and flourishes on the internet today is much more subtle and powerful. This is the testimonial and review scam.
Many internet sites use testimonials to give the consumer confidence in the product or service they are offering. This is not always a scam, but let us looks at the reality of this marketing. Of course the testimony sounds good. Why put a non advantageous testimonial on your website. Who is the customer providing the testimony? Do you know them? What qualifies this person, did they buy the service or product advertised? Does this person really exist, if so is it Uncle George offering his humble opinion to help out his nephew?
Testimonials are hard to verify and unethical businesses will use unethical ways to achieve their means. With a million plus websites out there if you see a recognized name like Oprah for example how do you know she knows her name is being used to promote the product? Testimonials are a great tool for sales however with the vastness of the internet and the verification of testimonials so hard to verify it has become a favorite tool for the unethical marketer.
Reviews fall into 2 categories. The review website and the “add your review” tag found on websites. When looking for products and services on the internet I have used sites dedicated to reviewing the products. I have also found several of these sites were registered to the same company that was selling the number 1 ranked product on the review site. If you decide to use review sites it is worth your time to use a trusted site. This can be hard to verify. My experience has found review sites that are niche products only such as diet product reviews only tend to be some of the worst offenders.
The “add your review tag” Who has the most to gain from having some stellar reviews posted next to their product. This form of review tends to fall into the same pitfalls as the testimonials. No verification if the review was written from an actual user of the product or the companies secretary on a slow day.
Some people may not see this as an internet scam. The fact is it is being used on great regularity on the internet with no checks or balances in place. I know people who have fallen victim these marketing ploys. There are some very good review sites and services available on the internet. Look for companies that test products or investigate the services offered to avoid this Dirty Little White Hat Internet Scam