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Is CCTV-Reviews.com #fakenews reviews?

CCTV-Reviews.com has a lot of negative reviews about a slew of security camera retailers, but suspiciously has nothing by glowing praise for only one company: Backstreet Surveillance.

The CEO of Backstreet Surveillance just happens to own the CCTV-Reviews.com domain.

Buyer Beware: Increasing Number of Fake Reviews Online

There's been an explosion in fake reviews in 2017 - Time magazine, Inc Magazine, and NBC news have helped raise awareness of this new "marketing method."

You can search twitter for the hashtag #fakereviews and see thousands of comments about fake reviews.

Companies are creating fake reviews to promote products by saying a bunch of positive things about them that may not be true, or maliciously attacking another companies to make the other company appear to have poor service or bad products.

Are Fake Reviews Legal?

There are a ton of lawsuits cracking down on fake reviews, but most are still ongoing right now, so the jury is still out (literally). In most cases, the competitors who make fake reviews of other brands are being sued for defamation. As with most lawsuits, even getting sued can be so expensive that the risk is not worth the benefit. Here's some high profile (and expensive) cases:

Edmunds.com Reached a Settlement with Company Accused of Submitting Fraudulent Car Dealer Ratings and Reviews

PURPLE INNOVATION, LLC, A Delaware limited liability company, Plaintiff, v. HONEST REVIEWS, LLC, a Florida Corporation, RYAN MONAHAN, an individual, and GHOSTBED, INC., a Delaware corporation

Amazon cracks down on fake reviews with another lawsuit

Could a consumer get sued for writing a review?

No, real reviews are generally regarded as opinions. If you don't like a product you can say so. The common threads in most review based defamation lawsuits are the financial motive of the reviewer and the number of reviews. Writing a negative review about a company you actually purchased something from is very different than making tons of "independant" comments harming someone else's reputation and then attempting to financially profit from that harm.

1. Real Review Sites Have Independent Ownership

The proof is in the DNS pudding. The internet functions because of the Domain Name System (DNS) which allows you to type in a website and connect to the content you're looking for. Most of the records on website ownership are public, so you can look up who owns which site.

This is who owns Backstreet Surveillance

DNS for Backstreet Surveillance

This is who owns CCTV-Reviews.com

DNS for CCTV-Reviews.com

Also, in case the JD vs James thing is throwing you off, here's a press release from Backstreet showing that JD Cawley's first name is James, and that he is the owner of both domains.

2. The reviews on the CCTV-Reviews.com website look remarkably fake.

1. There's a lot of negative reviews about nearly every brand on that site, except one: Backstreet, who has mostly positive reviews (5 stars for backstreet; 2.1 stars on average for everyone else, at the time of writing this post).

2. Some of those negative reviews about other brands specifically mention how much better their experience was at Backstreet, something that we saw for no other brand on the site.

This is a review of the company "CCTV Security Pros" and miraculously, the review found a way to bring the conversation back to Backstreet Surveillance.

negative reviews on CCTV-Reviews.com about other brands also recommend Backstreet Surveillance

This is a review of the company "Shopping CCTV" and again, unnaturally, the review even has a link to Backstreet Surveillance.

negative reviews on CCTV-Reviews.com about other brands also recommend Backstreet Surveillance 2

3. When you fill out the form to leave a review comment (which is not the same as the star rating system oddly enough), it asks you to put in your Name, email address, website, and comment. Reviews don't always ask for this, but when they do, you should expect to see websites like "dougsbigrigs.com" or "snyderelectrical.com" - you know, places where people actually work. Most of the reviews on the site say "yourwebsite" or the website of the company that they are reviewing. This is highly suspicious.

3. CCTV-Reviews.com doesn’t work like other review sites

1. Most review sites have a customer care system. This allows the brand to respond to a poor review in order to solve the customer’s need and make everyone happy. There doesn’t even seem to be a way for brands to login at CCTV-Reviews.com.

2. There's no way to add a brand to get reviewed. (SCW and many other companies are not mentioned at all).

3. Each brand has a write up but there's no clear way on the site for a brand to control that write up. There's also no contact info listed on the site at all (the email button subscribes you to a mailing list).

4. CCTV-Review.com's Advertising Campaign Looks Suspect

1. CCTV-Review.com's advertising campaign has a startlingly overlap with Backstreet's.

Google Backstreet get CCTV-Reviews.com
Keyword overlap for CCTV-Reviews and Backstreet

2. When you search one of Backstreet's competitors in Google, you get an advertisement highlighting a CCTV-Reviews.com review telling you to buy from Backstreet instead (we have no affiliation with CCTV Security Pro's and picked them at random).

Click on this advertisement when you google "CCTVSecurityPros.com:

Google CCTV Security Pro get CCTV-Reviews.com advertisement

Get the exact review we showed you before, telling you to buy from Backstreet instead of CCTV Security Pros:

CCTV Security Pro ad links to review about how you should buy from Backstreet instead

3. Most review sites sell their services to companies and their advertising revolves around trying to recruit companies to sign up, not convince customers where to shop.

4. It has Drastically Different Ratings Than Those on Reputable Review Sites

Google Reviews is a legitimate review site. Here are the legitimate reviews of CCTV Security Pros, a competitor to SCW with whom we have no affiliation. You will notice a dramatic difference between the legitimate Google reviews from the CCTV-Reviews.com critique. On Google, consumers can view the good and bad things that others have written in review of their experiences with company. In comparison, on CCTV-Reviews.com, the whole negative comments appears to be a vehicle to push the one review telling people to shop at Backstreet - the same review used in CCTV-Review.com's advertising campaign.

5. It’s Way Too Easy to Fake Reviews

The CCTV-Reviews.com site is using a plugin from Rating-Widget.com to calculate the ratings. Rating-Widget.com doesn't have the security that most customer review sites have, like verifying reviews with order numbers and limiting reviews to one per computer. This rating widget is ripe for exploitation, so we decided to experiment a little.

We picked the company "Shopping CCTV" because that company has already changed its name and because it had 100% bad reviews and was at the bottom of the list. We wanted to see if a positive (5 star) review for anyone other than Backstreet would even be saved on the site (which it was). We also wanted to see if the site was ordered by review rating, so we gave "Shopping CCTV" 40 positive reviews. They stayed in last place.

The problem here is that we've never done business with "Shopping CCTV." Let alone done business with them the 40 or so times that we gave them a 5 star review.

You can also see a user on this black hat forum (black hat refers to web marketing that ignores ethics) recommend Rating-Widget.com when another user suggested "some fake star review plugin."

It's about the industry, stupid!

We want to make very clear that SCW is not mentioned at all on CCTV-Reviews.com, nothing negative is being said about SCW on that site, and we have no connection to Backstreet, CCTV-Reviews.com, Shopping CCTV, CCTV Security Pros, or anyone else listed on the CCTV-Reviews.com website (at least when we published this post).

Our "Exposing the Surveillance Industry Shortchange" series isn't just about our reputation. This series is about cleaning up the security industry as a whole and preventing customers from being taken advantage of. In this instance, that means coming to the aid of some of our competitors.

In this particular instance, it is our opinion that Backstreet's CEO needs to be called out. He should shut down CCTV-Reviews.com or add a disclaimer to the top of the site (similar to what honestmattressreviews.com had to do) disclosing his ownership, and CCTV-Reviews.com should be required to link to the actual reviews of the company's whose brands it is injuring.

We selected CCTV Security Pros to serve as an example by random selection. The other businesses with reviews on CCTV-Reviews.com also deserve to have their names and reputation cleared, but this post was already kinda long. As part of creating this post, we have reaching out to each brand to make sure they are aware of the site, its comments, its ownership, and how their reputations are being affected.

We obviously compete against the companies badmouthed on CCTV-Reviews.com, but we are committed to competing fairly and ethically.

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