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How to Claim and Manage Your Business Profile on OpenTable

There’s no telling what crazy things a disgruntled employee might do.

This is what a restaurant owner in South Beach learned recently, when one of his waiters was caught attempting to extort $50,000 and threatening to write negative reviews of the business on TripAdvisor.

According to a story on Miami Herald, waiter Jorge Luis Vasquez-Vega threatened to ruin the business reputation of South Beach restaurateur Stefano Frittella if Frittella didn’t agree to pay the $50,000 that Vasquez-Vega was demanding.

Vasquez-Vega, a waiter at Frittella’s Pelican Hotel restaurant, sent anonymous text messages to Frittella saying that he would falsely report the restaurateur for hiring illegal immigrants, and that (bogus) negative reviews would be posted on TripAdvisor if Frittella didn’t pay the money.

(Check out: “8 Terrific TripAdvisor Tips for Businesses”)

Vasquez-Vega was investigated and caught by Miami Beach police and is now in jail. According to the arrest report, “the defendant maliciously threatened the victim to ruin his business reputation and disgrace him if he did not pay.”

Frittella is the man responsible for a group of restaurants on Miami Beach, Florida, including Café Milano, Cantinetta, Bice Ristorante, and cafes at the Cardozo Hotel and Pelican Hotel.

At a time when customers can quickly become critics, consumers have come to rely increasingly on reviews posted on popular sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google, Facebook, and Foursquare. According to a report by eMarketer, as much as 88 percent of Internet users now read online reviews in order to determine whether a local business is good or not.

The downside to the “review revolution” is that some groups and individuals – competing businesses, angry customers, black-hat marketers, review divas, and, of course, disgruntled employees – now use the power of reviews to blackmail a local business or threaten to tarnish its reputation. According to Gartner, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of reviews will be fake or paid for in the year 2015.

Be vigilant! Here are tips for consumers and business owners alike to spot fakes.

Migs Bassig

Migs is the Content Manager for ReviewTrackers. He's a creative writer who has helped numerous companies communicate more effectively online, and he loves sharing his local marketing knowledge to help brands and business succeed.

Discussion

  1. Rylan Howie

    Its not easy to find good employees today, you never know what will happen if work relationship doesn’t work out. In case of blackmail or malicious fake review, just sue them. As a business owner you have to protect your business.

    Reply
  2. Marnie Sho

    The immigrant part is probably true. Maybe that is the reason for acting like that in the first place. He was afraid that he will lose his job, due to immigrants. Also, the wage that he was getting was miserable and he wanted more. It is not about good employee’s it is about good employers. If you are a good and honest employer, nobody would do such thing to you.

    Reply
    • Not The Real Shoe

      I agree, there were probably few immigrants, but I doubt that Vasquez-Vega was good employee, in the first place. For illegal immigrants this was great opportunity to start new life in USA and now he made more damage to them then to the owner, because they were probably fired after Vasquez-Vega treated to the owner. Classic case of blackmail, I’m glad that he was punished. This shows how silly little reviews can ruin someone’s hard work.

      Reply
  3. David R

    It’s sad what some people are capable to do for a quick buck . How can you protect your business from people like her. You reap what you sow. I’m glad that she got what she deserved.

    Reply

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