Restaurant owner paid £7,455 for bogus reviews posted on Tripadvisor by Tripadvisor trolls

Restaurant owner paid £7,455 for bogus reviews posted on Tripadvisor by Tripadvisor trolls

Martin Potts authored dozens of reviews, including 10 for Bispham Kitchen in Blackpool.

His haddock was catfish, his chips ‘fried in burning oil,' and he, his wife, and children got sick between October 23 and November 16, 2018.

He even alleged proprietor Steve Hoddy ‘glares oddly at you as you're trying to eat your fish and chips'.
But the imposter had bitten off more than he could chew, as Mr Hoddy had graduated in law from Cambridge before entering the hospitality sector.

Mr Hoddy looked into other businesses with similar spelling problems.

That individual was evident,' Mr Hoddy claimed.
Mr Hoddy found Potts. He threatened to sue if he didn't apologise.

Mr Hoddy was forced to bring Potts before Manchester County Court, where he was found guilty of malicious lying.

He produced bills to prove his fish was haddock and devised charts to assess losses. He even proved Potts had no wife or children.

Mr Hoddy said Potts initially denied doing the evaluations. But when I provided him with proof, he made a few concessions but resisted.'

On July 19, Judge Craig Sephton ordered Potts to pay £7,455 in damages and fees - almost what Mr Hoddy requested.

Mr Hoddy, who owns six restaurants and a takeout, informed Tripadvisor, which removed the comments.

A complicated, costly action, said Mr Hoddy. I enjoyed it - it was my job.

It was to send a message to individuals who think they can harm a business or a person's reputation at will.

‘Trolling is a major issue nowadays. It destroys firms. It afflicts modern society.'

‘Tripadvisor takes fraud very seriously and uses cutting-edge technology and human moderators to combat it,' said TripAdvisor.

‘Our advice to both company owners and consumers is simple: report reviews that raise suspicion or violate our criteria. Then our staff will examine and act.'