It may be tantalizing for a marketer to enhance their reputation by posting glowing reviews of their company on reputation sites such as Yep, Google and Yahoo. According to a recent story in the New York Times, however, you may want to think twice.

Regulators are looking into fraudulent reviews on the Internet, and in New York 19 companies have agreed to stop misleading the public and will pay $350,000 in penalties. This is the result of an investigation that took over a year and targeted such companies as a teeth-whitening service, a tour bus operator and an adult entertainment club.

One of the big concerns is that while false advertising is fairly transparent Ė you know itís an ad Ė false reviews are more misleading. This can be especially painful for consumers when looking up services such as legal, accounting, dental, medical or other organizations that could have a huge impact. As the article states, a bad meal is one thing, but losing a lawsuit or having unnecessary surgery would be another altogether.

It is not only companies posting their own reviews those investigators worry about but the ability to hire or coerce other parties into making claims or reviews that arenít truthful. The article cites a study done by the Harvard Business School that showed that restaurants that were able to increase their Yelp ranking by one star saw their revenues jump by five to nine percent.

Ultimately, it is hoped that organizations will realize that using deception to entice customers will inevitably lead to disaster. Instead of resorting to fraud and deceit to build revenues, companies that focus on providing an exceptional experience and earning their reputation will win in the long run.