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June 25, 2014

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Man held over eatery review blackmail

A MAN has been detained for trying to blackmail a restaurant after posting negative comments on a reviews website, Changning District police said yesterday.

The suspect, surnamed Wei, demanded the owner of a local eatery pay him 4,500 yuan (US$721) for deleting the negative comments he posted on, a popular Shanghai-based website offering restaurant reviews and group buying coupon offers.

The restaurant owner, surnamed Lin, told police that Wei approached her to seek “cooperation.”

Wei claimed to be working for an advertising company and offered to promote Lin’s restaurant on Dianping.

To prove his credentials, Wei posted two positive comments while with Lin and left his phone number.

After Lin’s refused his offer, she found negative comments about the restaurant on

In a phone call, Wei admitted that he was responsible for the comments, and demanded 4,500 yuan to remove them.

Lin informed police, who placed Wei under surveillance when he went to the restaurant to pick up the blackmail cash and held him.

Group busted

This is the latest in a series of ratings blackmailing cases in recent years.

A 10-member group was busted by police in Shanghai two years ago for blackmailing restaurants by posting fake comments on Dianping.

According to police, they had registered hundreds of accounts with the website to give reviews.

Police reminded restaurateurs not to let the racketeers make easy money.

Some restaurant owners were willing to pay for positive comments when they were approached.

And a number were willing to pay only to “save trouble,” police said.

The “cooperation fee” ranges from a few dozen yuan to over 10,000 yuan, said officers.

Dianping blocked more than  260,000 accounts suspected to be used for fake comments last year.

Racketeers register for a batch of accounts, write general comments and then have them updated for later use, said police.


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