Internet scammers unleash a deluge of one-star reviews at a Vietnamese restaurant in Chicago
While restaurants in Chicago continue to try to pick up the pieces and move on after more than two years of pandemic turmoil, a frustrating new obstacle has emerged for hospitality operators: cyber hackers, some of whom seek to extract money from their targets. The Sochi Saigonese Kitchen, the regional Vietnamese restaurant in Lakeview that was named Michelin’s 2022 Bib Gourmand list, is the last local place to end up in a virtual battle.
Over the past 10 days, Sochi has been flooded with a series of one-star Google reviews that have driven down the overall rating, according to an employee who posted in a private Facebook group for members of the Chicago hospitality industry. Last Wednesday morning, the employee writes, owners Chinh Pham and Son Do received an email from a person claiming responsibility for the tangle of negative reviews and demanding a $ 75 Google Play gift card to stop the flood of bad reviews. “We sincerely apologize for our actions and do not want to harm your business, but we have no choice,” the email, reviewed by Eater. “The fact is that we live in India and see no other way to survive.” Pham and Do’s attempts to contact Google have so far failed.
Other members of this unhappy club of restaurant owners under digital siege include Bien Trucha Group, owner of four restaurants in the western suburbs. In June, hackers used a phishing scam to gain access to the group’s Facebook page, collecting thousands of dollars in fees for cryptocurrency ads and posting nude photos to the technology chief’s personal page. Although Facebook initially did not respond to the group’s inquiries, Bien Trucha’s page was fixed after the publication of a Tribune the story of the saga. Ocaso, a Mexican restaurant on Logan Square, also fell victim to phishing scammers who wreaked havoc with their reservation system last winter, shutting down online orders on the site and creating a fake Facebook page for the restaurant.
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