JACKSONVILE, Fla. -- More and more consumers are relying on Internet review sites to help them decide on when and where to spend their hard earned money. When it comes to restaurants and business, a few of the popular sites are Urbanspoon, Zagat, TripAdvisor and Yelp.
"Never heard of them before, didn't know what Yelp was," said Sebastian Russo.
Russo owns Brooklyn Pizza in Bartram Park and is upset by recent telemarketing calls.
"We've got a very good reputation here," he said. "We've got a booming business."
Russo said the calls are from a telemarketer who claims he is with Yelp and for $300 they can remove negative reviews on its website.
"This is what the mob does," said Russo.
He said he has received multiple calls over the past three months and he's had enough. Russo has been in business nine years and he wants other small business owners to be aware.
Hannah Cheesman a spokesperson for Yelp says this is not something their sales people would do.
In fact, Yelp is in 26 countries with more than 100 million users on its site
"There has never been any amount of money a business can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews and our automated recommendation software does not 'punish' those who don't advertise," wrote Cheesman.
Cheesman said her San Francisco company offers a free suite of tools for business owners.
In 2012, 2013 and again February 2014 Yelp issued consumer alerts on its website about people trying to manipulate ratings and reviews. Yelp said this type of activity not only hurts consumers, but also honest businesses and we take our responsibility of providing trusted information very seriously.