You know those stories about how some stores, restaurants and shady marketers have tried to manipulate the user reviews on Yelp?

It also happened to Santa Monica-based, a reputable site dedicated to helping car shoppers, including reviews of dealerships. The company is suing a firm called Humankind Design Ltd., an “online reputation management firm,” for allegedly …

… trying to register 2,200 fake user accounts to manipulate reviews of dealerships.

Edmunds filed suit this week against the firm, indicating in a statement that Humankind allegedly advertises its ability to shape reviews on the likes of Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo! and more.

The car site quotes the proprietor of Humankind as allegedly stating:

Does posting reviews … violate Terms of Service…? In general, the review sites state that you must be posting for yourself and not for someone else. So in these cases the answer would be yes.

Edmunds says it has shut down “fraudulent and inappropriate activity” on its site but is suing anyway.

CEO Seth Berkowitz:

Unlike many ratings services, we don't publish any dealer reviews until they are hand-screened by our staff members to make sure that they are compliant with our standards. Car shoppers and dealers can trust that we at do everything we can to prevent fake and otherwise inappropriate reviews from appearing on our site.

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