Restaurants and small businesses get targeted with a Google one-star review scam.

Restaurants and small businesses are getting targeted with one-star review scams that pose as company reviews from real customers. These scams use fake identities and fraudulent email addresses to deceive unsuspecting business owners into believing they have received poor reviews from real customers. As a business owner, you need to be aware of the dangers of one-star review scams and take steps to protect yourself from them. Here are some tips on how you can avoid getting scam reviews and protect your business:

google one star review scams

What is a one-star review scam?

The scammer poses as a customer, reviews the business negatively, and then asks for a gift card or refund. The scammer then uses the business’s real name and profile picture in their review. The scammer may also use the business’s website address and email address to make it look authentic. The scammer then asks the company to respond to the review and asks for personal information such as the business’s bank account number, social security number, and email address. They then attempt to extort your business of money, personal information, or both.

As The New York Times reports, Scammers in India demand a $75 Google Play gift card to remove a one-star review, with the promise of additional one-star reviews if the fee is not paid. Many of these one-star reviews on Google are from India. The warning, which is usually sent via email, goes like this:

We sincerely apologize for our actions, and would not want to harm your business but we have no other choice. The fact is that we live in India and see how other way to survive.  We are begging you to send us google play gift card worth $75  After selling this gift card we can earn approximately $50, which is three weeks of income for one family.

What are the symptoms of one-star review scams?

Fake customers unfairly write these fraudulent reviews. Some common signs that your business might target a one-star review scam are new, unverified reviews, changes made to the company website or Facebook page after being targeted, and the sudden appearance of negative Google reviews. If you notice any of these signs, you must report them to Google as soon as possible. Doing so can help protect your business from unfair ratings and negative publicity.

The consequences of getting a one-star review on Google?

If a business gets a one-star review on Google, the search engine will display this information prominently when users type in that business’ name. This could lead to fewer people visiting the business and may discourage potential customers from doing business with it. 

How do scammers get your contact information?

The scammer uses software to find vulnerable targets to get your listing details and contact information. They may also sell your data to other businesses or individuals.

Why are restaurants and small businesses being targeted with one-star review scams?

google review scams taranakiAs businesses of all sizes struggle, scam artists have noticed. Unfortunately, the scammer is just trying to harm the business’s reputation. By spreading misinformation and manipulating reviews, these scams can damage a company’s bottom line and ruin its chances of success. If you see suspicious activity surrounding a restaurant or small business, reach out for help! Restaurants and small businesses often rely on online reviews to determine customer satisfaction. By speaking up and reporting the scam, you can help protect the company’s livelihood and the reputation of honest customers.

How can you protect yourself from one-star review scams?

It’s crucial to understand how the scams work to protect your reputation. Additionally, here are a few tips to protect your online reputation.

  1. Have real-time monitoring via custom build software via Google API
  2. Keep asking for genuine detailed reviews that contain photos and video
  3. Lock your listing from malicious edits via API
  4. Keep all communication from the scammers
  5. Contact Google support
  6. Finally, never pay the scammers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to remove or dispute a negative review on Google Search?

Yes, you can remove or dispute a negative review on Google Search. In addition, if you have concerning reviews, you can use the “Report a Review” link under the “My Business” tab on the Google Search Console. However, Companies should also resolve a genuine review. It is crucial to remember that Google does not want to remove reviews as it is ‘normal’ to have a negative review if you get many reviews eventually. The best practice is to address the negative response and get the conversation offline via email or, preferably, a call.

How long does it take to remove a negative review from Google?

It can happen within an hour or up to six weeks or not at all. Our most vital suggestion is don’t touch it as that can reduce the chances of getting a review removed. We have removed reviews within seconds and, in some cases, weeks.


Restaurants and small businesses are getting targeted with a Google one-star review scam, but there are ways that companies can protect themselves. By knowing the signs of one-star review scams and the consequences of getting a one-star review, businesses can take steps to protect themselves from scams. However, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid getting scam reviews in the first place. Keep your business information safe, and don’t share your contact information with anyone you don’t know. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below, and we’ll get back to you.