New York's attorney general is trying to dismantle what he calls a system of creating false online review for products and services.
On Monday, Eric Schneiderman (SHNEYE'-dur-muhn) settled cases with 19 companies that included $350,000 in penalties after a yearlong investigation into the fake plaudits sometimes called "astroturfing." The term is based on the synthetic grass used on sports fields.
Schneiderman says he found companies that filed false reviews on Yelp, Google Local, CitySearch and other websites.
Many were written by people in Philippines, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe for $1 to $10 per review.
Some fraudulent writers also defended their fake reviews on websites challenging the reviews.
One undercover agent was able to hire a company to create a false positive impression of a fictitious company.
Explore further: Yelp to alert consumers on fake reviews