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‘I have been paid to carry out a reputation attack’: Boss tells of another chilling coronavirus scam

PUBLISHED: 17:12 04 April 2020 | UPDATED: 09:41 05 April 2020

Jamie Minors, an estate agent, was targeted by a bribery scam. Pic: Jamie Minors/Archant

Jamie Minors, an estate agent, was targeted by a bribery scam. Pic: Jamie Minors/Archant

A Norfolk estate agent has hit out at scammers who targeted his firm at a time “when businesses like ours are trying to survive.”

A screenshot of the scammer's message and the negative reviews posted when Minors & Brady didn't pay. Pic: Minors & Brady.A screenshot of the scammer's message and the negative reviews posted when Minors & Brady didn't pay. Pic: Minors & Brady.

A Norfolk estate agent has hit out at scammers who targeted his firm at a time “when businesses like ours are trying to survive.”

Jamie Minors, who runs Minors & Brady, was targeted along with other businesses by a person on Facebook asking for money otherwise they would carry out a “reputation attack.” Mr Minors ignored the threat – and awoke the next day to a series of bad recommendations posted on social media.

Two other local firms, a mortgage company based in Norwich and a market florists, were targeted in the same bribery scam.

It comes as police and trading standards are warning people to be aware of various scams circulating amid coronavirus.

Jamie Minors, of Minors & Brady, pictured in happier times. Pic: Minors & Brady,Jamie Minors, of Minors & Brady, pictured in happier times. Pic: Minors & Brady,

Mr Minors, who runs offices in Dereham, Caister and Wroxham, which are all currently closed because of coronavirus, was asked to pay £199 in bitcoin cryptocurrency.

The message from the scammer was clear: “I would like to inform you that I have been paid to carry out a reputation attack on your company. This will be started with 25 negative, one star reviews. The attack will continue every day with an additional 25 negative reviews if you do not decide to pay £199.”

The reviews appeared but luckily Mr Minor’s real customers rallied with hundreds posting good reviews. After this the scammers contacted Mr Minors threatening to do it again.

Another firm, Independent Mortgages and Financial Solutions, King Street, was hit by the same scam as was Cary’s Flowers, Norwich Market.

Jamie Minors, pictured in happier times. Pic: Minors & BradyJamie Minors, pictured in happier times. Pic: Minors & Brady

Mr Minors told this newspaper: “We were messaged Thursday evening. We ignored it, thinking it was spam, but woke up to lots of negative reviews. In tough times of coronavirus and with small businesses like us trying to survive, it’s a tough one for morale and energy.

“Luckily, we posted about it and the support from people has been incredibly overwhelming, with hundreds liking, reviewing our page, and sending words of encouragement throughout these tough times. We’re not going to pay out of principle.”

Jamie Lennox, mortgage advisor, Independent Mortgages and Financial Solutions, said: “We are a local firm who pride ourselves on years of excellent service and being a company that purely obtains business through word of mouth and customer recommendations, fake negative reviews can really be damaging to a business in these challenging market conditions.

“We became another target with the exact same message being received and have now just started to receive the negative reviews.”


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