Feeds

New York nips facelift firm for astroturfing

But they're still grinning...

3 Big data security analytics techniques

A facelift firm is being slapped with a $300,000 fine by New York state for flooding the internet with fake positive reviews about itself.

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the case is believed to be the first in the US to punish so-called "astroturf" marketing.

Under a settlement deal announced Tuesday, the cosmetic surgery outfit Lifestyle Lift agreed to cut out publishing anonymous positive reviews about the company on internet message boards and websites and pay the state $300,000 in penalties.

Lifestyle Lift, which mostly targets consumers though infomercials as a "minor one-hour" facial firming procedure, has a history of aggressively guarding its reputation online. The company has filed several lawsuits alleging trademark violations against websites that publish negative reviews or comments about the company.

Cuomo's office alleges Lifestyle Lift's president decided negative internet postings were causing a significant loss of face and ordered his employees to pose as satisfied customers on various internet message boards and websites. Internal emails discovered in the investigation show specific marching orders to engage in the illegal activity:

"Friday is going to be a slow day - I need you to devote the day to doing more postings on the web as a satisfied client," one email to employees read.

"Put your wig and skirt on and tell them about the great experience you had," stated another.

Lifestyle Lift also created stand-alone websites and blogs made to appear as if they were created by independent, satisfied customers.

"I decided to create this website because I wanted to share my story with others," one such website stated. "After my first consultation, I went online and read horror stories about Lifestyle Lift. People were trashing Lifestyle Lift, their employees, their doctors, etc...I got scared and seriously thought about canceling my procedure. I was getting cold feet. What was with all the negative posts online? Those negative stories did not ad up at at...

"I realized quickly that most of that stuff was probably made up: the reviews were using long medical terms that only a doctor would use..." it continued. "I also talked to my doctor about it.... He told me that many of the negative stories I was reading online were probably from envious doctors and just made up because he never heard any of this from his patients."

According to the settlement, Lifestyle Lift employees will no longer pose as customers on the internet. The company also agreed not to promote its services without disclosing they are responsible for the content. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
Intel sees 'signs of improvement in the PC business' but earnings remain 'Meh...'
Prospects for the future, however, please Wall Street money men
What's a right pain in the ASCII for IBM? Its own leech-like hardware biz
Keep your eyes on our cloud while we remove this pesky thing, say execs
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.