Yoo Jeung has run Le Spot Saint Denis on the corner of Duluth Avenue and Saint Denis Street for 22 years. Her Flower Her shop, Montreal’s highest-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor, Le Nouveau, is supposedly right next door to Duluth, but she says she’s never heard of it.
She says she knows the area well and is often asked by tourists for directions to restaurants.
“But Nouveau Duluth? No,” she said — and something about the online listing seemed offensive to her.
“Very high ceilings [in the photos]”Duluth doesn’t have high ceilings…it looks fake.”
The restaurant was ranked #1 in the travel app’s City Ratings, but one glance at that list was enough to make any foodie pause.
Le Nouveau Duluth doesn’t exist, but its easy rise to the top of travel advice sites is a clear example of how it’s so easy to create an insubstantial topic. .
The page was removed after CBC sent a request to TripAdvisor for an answer. The popular travel site responded that the stunt of creating fake restaurant listings “is a rare occurrence and does not share the hallmarks of a genuine scam.”
“This time, due to a failure of human moderation practices, the fake listing remained on the platform longer than it should have. The listing containing the reviews and photos associated with the listing is now inactive. “
A restaurant must provide a phone number and website to be listed on TripAdvisor. The linked URL for Le Nouveau Duluth’s did not lead to an active site.
Le Nouveau Duluth has 85 reviews, all with 5 stars.
The top review is “I can’t believe a place like this really exists.” Most reviewers leave only one review for Le Nouveau Duluth on Trip Advisor.
There were only 4 photos in the list. Two look like his living room, one sports his bar, and the last is a photo of comedian Charles Deschamps, whose name is linked to the restaurant’s phone number. CBC confirmed the phone was using his iMessage.
Le Nouveau Duluth was not on the list when the CBC checked Quebec’s business registrar. A location pin leads to the corner of Duluth Avenue and Saint-Denis Street, but you won’t see a restaurant named Le Nouveau Duluth.
CBC asked four nearby businesses if they had heard of Le Nouveau Duluth, which includes Le Spot St-Denis. I said no to all.
CBC also called the number listed on the TripAdvisor page but got no response.
‘Easy to find’ fakes
While I’ve never encountered a fake restaurant on TripAdvisor, cybersecurity expert Terry Cutler says fake reviews are relatively easy to spot.
“When I look at reviews, they are often vague like ‘well done’ or ‘good luck’ and have nothing to do with the content of the review,” he said.
“If you start seeing only 5-star reviews (no negative comments at all), that should indicate something is wrong.”
According to Cutler, it’s easy for anyone to sign up for a bot service and flood websites like Google and TripAdvisor with fake reviews to boost rankings and damage legitimate businesses.
“So even if there were really five-star restaurants in the rankings, they would drop in the rankings because this fake restaurant has been taken over,” he said.
Graziella Battista, owner of Old Montreal’s restaurant Graziella, said listings like Le Nouveau Duluth were “unacceptable.”
“Of course it bothers me. Travelers rely on these sites to review restaurants and all kinds of places tourists visit,” she said.
Batista noted that not too long ago, the restaurant had earned recognition from established restaurant critics like “the Leslie Chesterman family and the Marie-Claude Rorty family.”
She also mentioned the government’s system of classifying facilities by quality rating. Now, she says, that responsibility has been taken over by her platform online, where “everyone is an expert.”
She says these websites need more regulation so that real restaurants aren’t pushed down the rankings.
The Quebec Ministry of Tourism has said it has no plans to regulate online restaurant rankings or introduce a system of ranking trusted tourist attractions.
“It’s a scam,” Batista said of Le Nouveau Duluth.
She says it’s getting harder and harder to trust information online.
“In functions: delivery, takeout, reservations, outdoor seating, buffets, private dining, private parking, full bars, wine and beer, waterfront, live music, jazz bars, drives. there is.”