Scammer uses fake online reviews to extort restaurant

PUYALLUP, Wash. (AP) — A scammer is using fake reviews to try to extort money from a Washington restaurant.

KOMO-TV reports within a week of Napoli Italiano and Speakeasy Lounge’s soft opening in Puyallup, one-star negative reviews began showing up on Google, Yelp and Facebook.

More than 70 one-star reviews were posted. Business plummeted by more than 40 percent and 10 people were laid off.

Restaurant manager Jason Folven received a message through Facebook from someone claiming to be making the posts and demanded $900 dollars in order to have the negative reviews removed.

Folven denied the financial demand that was tracked all the way to Romania.

Since the reviews and request for money have been tracked to an IP address overseas, there’s little law enforcement can do. And none of the websites will take the fake reviews down.