Edmunds.com, a resource for car shopping and automotive information, has filed a lawsuit against Friendswood, Texas-based Humankind Design Ltd. for, among other things, fraud and breach of the Edmunds.com membership agreement. Through its review of every car dealer rating and review submitted to Edmunds.com, the company discovered that Humankind attempted to register over 2,200 fake members on the site and tried to use them to create fraudulent content to sway car shoppers’ opinions of dealers.
“Unlike many ratings services, we don’t publish any dealer reviews until they are hand-screened by our staff members to make sure that they are compliant with our standards,” stated Edmunds.com President and Chief Operating Officer Seth Berkowitz. “Car shoppers and dealers can trust that we at Edmunds.com do everything we can to prevent fake and otherwise inappropriate reviews from appearing on our site.”
Edmunds.com found that Humankind’s proprietor expressly promotes that he can create fraudulent reviews on ratings web sites. He readily admits online: “Does posting reviews…violate Terms of Service…? In general, the review sites state that you must be posting for yourself and not for someone else, so in these cases the answer would be yes.”
Humankind also blatantly identifies 15 review sites on which it is prepared to post fake reviews; the list includes Google+, Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch and local.yahoo.com. Edmunds.com is proactively providing each of the listed sites with a copy of its filing to further support online consumers who might otherwise encounter such fraud.
Edmunds.com has deliberately and successfully shut down other fraudulent and inappropriate activity throughout the existence of its online Forums, which date back to 1996, the company claims. In July 2011, the company warned consumers about online vehicle purchase escrow scams that misappropriated use of the Edmunds.com name. Edmunds.com’s efforts helped the FBI uncover the criminal operation running the scam.