Curtis Boyd Helps Businesses Get Bad Reviews Removed — and Fake Good Ones for Competitors

Curtis Boyd.

Getting unfair reviews is very frustrating for any business since it is so difficult to offset their impact, but now there are tools to fight back.

Curtis Boyd Discovered That Clients and Consumers Were Most Impacted by Paid-for Positive Reviews for Competitors

No matter how good a job you do for customers, some are always unhappy, and those are the ones who seem most likely to give your company a review. Responding can help, but the public may be left confused.

Curtis Boyd, founder of The Transparency Company and, based in the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo, understands the challenge and has prompted review sites to take down thousands of negative comments. But counter-intuitively, those are not actually a business’s biggest PR problem, he says.

“As my career evolved, I realized that clients are much more impacted by fake positive reviews that are paid for by other businesses because they deceive consumers into thinking they are written by actual customers,” Boyd told Startup Savant. “Those glowing comments result in artificially inflated ratings for rivals, who appear higher in search rankings and draw away consumers who fall for inferior products and services based on those ‘testimonials’ that are actually just made up.”

Boyd’s own customers use their real names and affiliations in reviewing his work, like Darren Shaw, president and founder of WhiteSpark, a local search marketing firm, who wrote:

“Finally! A service that shows you which businesses are cheating their way to the top of the rankings, and arms you with the data you need to take them down. Businesses that are playing by the rules can now fight back and level the playing field. I love these transparency reports!”

How Boyd got into the business of fighting back against both unfair bad reviews and phony positive ones was a fluke. He grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Manhattan Beach, where his stepdad ran an air conditioning and heating service. His mom was a nurse who encouraged him to be trained as one because it was something to fall back on if he ran into a troubled economy for any other profession he might pursue.

But by the time Boyd was about to graduate as an RN at a school in Irvine, California, in 2013, he had racked up a $30,000 debt. He was rotating through an ER for his final clinical experience when a cosmetic surgeon came in complaining about a patient who left an awful review and how it was hurting his practice.

“I told him I could probably get it removed, and he said if I could, he’d pay off my student debt,” said Boyd. “I told him how much it was, and he said he’d probably lost more than that in the week since the review went up because seven or eight consultations had been canceled.”

He spent the next three days researching how to do this, flagging and disputing the review, but administrators of the review page refused. He later found that admins everywhere almost always responded to complaints with cookie-cutter answers like:

“We’ve evaluated the review you recently reported and based on what we see, we can’t confirm that the user has a conflict of interest with the business. If a review appears to reflect a user’s personal experience and opinions, it is our policy to let the user stand behind it. We’ve therefore decided to not remove this one, but appreciate your bringing it to our attention.”

Boyd decided to get more aggressively creative, flying up to San Francisco, where this review service was headquartered, and see if he could find someone at a nearby coffee shop who could help him make a contact at the company. He ended up meeting an executive who had worked in the review removal department, who gave him detailed instructions on what to do.

“Within 48 hours of getting back, I had the review removed, and in another 48 hours, I had a check for $30,000,” he told in an interview. “That was the day I realized I could solve a problem for thousands of business owners and really make an impact on their lives. That particular doctor was on the board of directors for the entire physician network, so within a week I had 500-plus clients, a CPA, and my own growing business.”

Reviewing a Better Way to Help Businesses

But there were a lot of churn-solving problems on retainer, and after six years of doing this and working for a marketing company, Boyd had saved $40,000 to launch in March 2019. It offered a subscription basis to help any small firm serving other businesses, which stabilized his revenues (currently $2,400 per location through the ebiz merchant card service, which usually works out to $20 to $100 per dispute with site administrators that is resolved in an illegitimate review being taken down).

The first version of its software, developed by an Indian company while Boyd was a consultant, had been flawed, and he replaced it with a much better approach from a Ukrainian team that he still relies on.

He wanted to avoid competing with companies offering to manage all aspects of a company’s online reputation and just focus on a dashboard to manage illegitimate reviews. has primarily targeted a couple of dozen review services, including Google, Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, TripAdvisor, TrustPilot, RealSelf, and AVVO. The clients have mostly come from the home service, medical, legal, and hospitality industries.

“Initially, we read each review manually to understand if it qualified for removal and came up with a strategy that we queried to administrators of the page,” Boyd said. “I realized much of this could be done by artificial intelligence and machine learning, so I took time off to learn how to code at MIT. We also changed from promising prospects what we could do for them to showing examples upfront that convinced them they needed us. We monitor social media for thousands of businesses each day, and those that complain about unfair negative reviews get a card and phone call.”

In October 2021, Boyd launched The Transparency Co. serving a much wider audience of clients who wanted to tackle those false positive reviews for competitors (including large enterprises, business-to-consumers companies, and even government entities). Jason Brown, who helped him earlier in developing the platform, joined to head the spam-fighting team. Boyd flew to India to buy a set of these to study the characteristics of phony reviews and began using Google Maps to show that the alleged reviewers could not be patrons of local businesses.

An example The Transparency Co. provided was for a Los Angeles law firm. In December 2021, it analyzed 35 of its reviews and found all but one suspicious. Only two had posted just their review of the firm, while other reviewers had written about many other businesses but showed no real engagement with them. Some used different names for reviews, but their phrasing and style were identical.

“Whether having negative reviews removed or challenging false positive ones, businesses can empower and protect customers to make more informed decisions based on what other real consumers have said about their products or services,” noted Boyd. “Our reports help clients understand the competition and include this in their strategy while legitimizing their own positive reputation.”

A Strategic Approach to Fraud

The Transparency Co. worked with the location marketing firm Uberall to produce a report: “The State of Online Review Fraud: An Analysis of 4 Million Reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp, and Tripadvisor.” Among its revelations: Google Maps has removed 75 million fake reviews, 61% of reviews of electronics on Amazon are not from actual users, 55,000 false ones are generated on Facebook per month, and one in seven reviews on TripAdvisor appear not to be legitimate.

“Multiple surveys have found that digital media are generally less trusted than traditional media sources, but roughly 60% of consumer media time is spent online,” wrote Greg Sterling, vice president of marketing insights for Uberall. “One of the important ways brands build trust is with reviews, and they have become a primary tool users rely on to determine whether to spend money on a product or service. Approaching 90% of online consumers consult reviews during the purchase process. Reviews and ratings are a major influence on search rankings and engagement on Google.”

Unfortunately, he explains, there is now a “reputation imperative” to maintain a positive score on major sites, which has led to the plague of fraudulent positive reviews to game the system or harm rivals.

“Last June, the Federal Trade Commission requested 85,000 of our Transparency Reports, and I recently interviewed an FTC attorney who said they were going to roll out fines for fake positive reviews,” Boyd said.

He is now focusing both his companies to work more with strategic channel partners to expand into their enterprise ecosystems.

It’s past time for the Davids of business to take down the Goliaths, whose images have been puffed up by phony flattery. Curtis Boyd and his team are eager to arm you and invite your customers and prospects to watch the showdown.

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Scott S. Smith

Scott S. Smith has had over 2,000 articles and interviews published in nearly 200 media, including Los Angeles Magazine, American Airlines’ American Way, and Investor’s Business Daily. His interview subjects have included Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Meg Whitman, Reed Hastings, Howard Schultz, Larry Ellison, Kathy Ireland, and Quincy Jones.

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