On last week’s Coronation Street, restaurant owner Alya Nazir had an issue with fake reviews being posted online about her and her restaurant, Speed Daal. Knowing the reviews were fake, she suspected the owner of a rival business, Ray Connor, as being the author of the reviews.
This is common in the restaurant trade, where fake reviews are posted online in an attempt to damage a competitor’s business.
However, when her business partner Geoff Metcalfe introduced his new menus, they contained a tell-tale giveaway that he was behind the reviews. The new menus, which Geoff introduced without Alya’s approval or even knowledge, contained a spelling mistake on the menu item ‘paneer’, which is a soft cheese used in curries.
This spelling mistake was the exact same mistake made on one of the fake reviews posted online.
Alya then confronted Geoff, who denied everything and will no doubt be more careful about his spelling in future when posting reviews.
Spotting spelling mistakes made on fake reviews, abusive messages and posts on social media is actually one of the ways we describe in our eBook on tracing fake Facebook profiles. When people post abuse online, they do so from a ‘safe space’ where they believe they are untouchable, and are in no danger of ever being discovered. This results in them allowing their true selves to come out, with their spelling, grammar and colloquialisms giving them away.
When Alya discovered that Geoff had spelt ‘paneer’ wrong in both the fake review and on the new menus, this should have allowed to her build her case and trap Geoff into giving himself away. By confronting him as she did, with only circumstantial evidence, she gave up her advantage and tipped him off to her suspicions.
So what could Alya have done?
In our eBook, which was written specifically to help trace fake Facebook profiles but can actually be used to gather evidence from any social media or website resource, we explain how you can lay traps for people posting abuse. You can set bait, and use it to lure in the abuser who will then give away information about themselves, such as the device they are using, the browser they are using, their location and their IP address.
This requires them to click on a link – and we go through different ways you can get this to happen, and how to retrieve the information from the link they click on. In Alya’s case, she probably didn’t even need to go to this much trouble. She just needed to stage a situation in the restaurant using friends of hers, unknown to Geoff, where something specific appears to go wrong with their meals and Geoff is aware. Then, should a bad review appear online mentioning those specifics, she would know Geoff was the culprit.
Should she want to go down the high-tech route, she could use our eBook on tracing a fake Facebook profile, as that would also provide her with the information she needs. She would even then be able to confirm, 100%, that Geoff’s IP address matched the one captured by simply checking the IP address from her grandmother’s house, where Geoff lives.
That would have been conclusive proof.
It’ll be interesting to see where the story goes from here, whether Alya eventually proves it is Geoff behind it, and if so, how. If you have a similar issue to Alya’s, and need to find who is behind some online abuse, our eBook will be able to help.