Astroturf in the only place it belongs. Jussi Mononen Nineteen companies have “agreed to cease their practice of writing fake online reviews for businesses and to pay more than $350,000 in penalties” after being caught posing as real consumers on sites such as Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced today.

The companies posted reviews on various sites while pretending to be real consumers, violating state laws against false advertising and deceptive business practices, the AG’s office said.

The alleged astroturfers spoofed IP addresses to hide their locations and make the reviews appear to come from multiple users. In one case, a marketing company arranged for this review of a periodontist to be written on CitySearch:

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