DENVER (CBS4) – You might be surprised what you can find when you Google your name. For Parker resident Steve Laner, a simple search unearthed something troubling. Laner found his name in the review section of a roofing company. Last September, Laner hired the Denver based company, CJ Roofing, to replace his roof. Laner says he was happy with the work they did but was never asked to write a review.
“Sure enough my name popped up on their website, and it was listed under the review section,” Laner said.
What he found was a glowing, 5 star review, that he never wrote. Next to the review was a link to a Google+ account under his name that he never made.
“I went to go click on that link, and essentially found a profile that was my name, based in Denver, with a picture of somebody that’s not me,” Laner said. “I assumed they were impersonating my profile for me.”
Laner’s review was one of many on the CJ Roofing website, so CBS4 Investigators looked into the other reviews and contacted the the people who wrote them. All were former customers, all said they had great experiences with CJ Roofing, but none of them had written a review online.
In each case, we found that fake Google+ profiles were set up in the customers’ names to write the reviews. Each profile had a list of their supposed interests along with a picture of someone unknown person.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers tells us this is false advertising and could be a violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.
“This is something that if it comes into our office and somebody is drawing repeated complaints, would likely be the subject of some kind of action by us,” Suthers told CBS4.
CBS4 Investigates took what it found to Bruce Lundy, the new president of CJ Roofing. Lundy investigated the situation and told us that an advertising agency and web consultant that they hired were falsifying information.
“That was wrong, that should not have happened, it was done without consent or approval, it’s been immediately stopped, and further, I’ve tried to contact each customer that was impacted this way,” said Lundy.
Lundy said that the profiles and pictures were fake, but the nature of the reviews came from customer comments or letters that the company had received. He admits that there was some wordsmithing occurring with the comments, and that he is disappointed.
“We should not jeopardize that customer relationship by the actions of these outside consultants, and again, it’s been immediately stopped,” said Lundy.
CJ Roofing took down the fake profiles. Now any reviews that appear on the company’s website are customer approved.
–Written for cbsdenver.com by Conor McCue