411 Locals Back in the News

411 Locals has been implicated in widespread Places listing sabotage and accused of threatening an SMB. Well they are back in the forums with this recent report of their widespread spam. You can’t keep a good black hat down.

Poster HoskinsRick noted a range of examples of spamming that shared a number of features; keyword laden business names, either superpages or keyword focused domains, Place Page updates that referenced the address or domain name, plenty of fake reviews, royalty free photos and spot-on centroid locations:

Placentia Accident Attorney
Accident Attorney Raleigh
Accident Attorney Hartford
Accident Attorney Irvine
Accident Attorney Oklahoma City
Accident Attorney Oklahoma City
Accident Attorney Indianapolis
Accident Attorney Philadelphia

Centroid Spam - click to View Larger

I can not say with 100% assurance that all of these are from 411 Locals but I called the first 4 or 5 on the list. Most of those forwarded to the same unanswered cell phone message. The one that didn’t was clearly not located where the business listing indicated. And LAWYERPLACENTIACA.INFO (and several of the other domains of the domains did but no longer do) resolved to 411 Locals.

411 Locals is no small actor and they are rumored to use a number of “dirty” tactics including closing competitive listings and changing descriptions just before month end with keyword heavy focus so that they showed a higher temporary ranking in client. I have spoken with several of their ex-clients (those that would speak with me as a number refused any comment) and they reported overly aggressive and threatening tactics. It is speculated that they have worked on 16,000 business listings and could have as many as 8000 active clients. While Google is certainly aware of them and has implemented some changes at scale to mitigate their efforts, clearly they are still active.

Have you run into them in any way? Have you seen their listings or spoken with previous clients?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
411 Locals Back in the News by

27 thoughts on “411 Locals Back in the News”

  1. Thanks for mentioning my sabotage story Mike. I know Steve has had some run-ins with them, as he indicated in comments in that story. I have not personally yet.

    But it scares me how many clients they have and how many SMBs are being taken advantage of OR could be suspended or have other problems due to the actions of these guys.

    They also go by 411service.net and there have been complaints about that company by users on the forum as well. They have a few other related names too.

    There are TONS and TONS of complaints about them. Google: either name + complaints or scams and you’ll find pages and pages.

    Here’s a good one. They threatened to DESTROY a customer. They allegedly put ninja turtles on the Place page then moved their location from NY to Finland. http://www.scambook.com/report/view/17553/411-Locals-False-Advertising-for-2000.00-on-08-24-2011

    Bad, bad apples!

  2. Interesting that you brought these guys up. I recently ran across some of their sites and did some detective work. Here is what I found:
    1. The two suspicious sites related to the places listings are hosted on the same IP
    2. Approximately 45,000 other sites are listed on the same IP
    3. I have looked at about 20 sites that look the same and have found the following in common:
    4. Nearly all addresses are located at or very near city centroid
    5. street view does not indicate the business is at that location
    6. The websites generally only include the business name in an image rather than text
    7. Reviewers that are leaving reviews are are generally 5 and some times 4 star reviews
    8. All of the additional reviews that those reviewers leave on other businesses are 4 and 5 star
    9. Nearly all of the reviewers are creating maps with the business locations
    10. Nearly all of the reviewers are also reviewing other Places associated with web sites from the same IP and same structure

    Definitely look suspicious to me

  3. @Linda

    Hah… I only hope the move to Finland came with free medical insurance.

    @Dana
    Yes petty maliciousness or else national scale seem to be the norm. This guy took a play from the Locksmith playbook but only implemented locally. One wonders how he has time to run his business.

    @Jeremy
    Yes they seem to have a ton of interlocking sites and reviewers…one wonders how it is that Google doesn’t catch these sorts of relationships. They are, after all, a registrar.

  4. Mike this is a nice catch.

    On another interesting note a client of mine recently got slammed into this little problem mentioned here: http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Places/thread?tid=44787248db22a7c6&hl=en

    Google apparently is outsourcing a secondary manual verification process to India. Having now dealt with these folks I am shocked at the absolutely poor customer service. The listing they called about is now gone from results even though it is a real business location with all valid data. I will begin going through the edits panel to see what happened and why. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Places/thread?tid=451b2be0d895f982&hl=en

    It is incredible to me that Google would trust something as important as the quality of their search results to cheap labor in India.

  5. I personally have a client that has had the misfortune of working with 411 Locals. They created dozens of spammy Google Places listings with ridiculous keyword-stuffed names, all verified. A year later, and I’m still battling their bad data.

    Business names were things like (I changed the names to protect my client, even the towns):
    ‘oakland smith law’
    ‘san francisco smith law’
    ‘alameda smith law’
    ‘berkeley smith law’
    ‘pacifica smith law’

    …etc. The phone numbers were all correct, the website was correct, but the addresses and business names were all false. The client unfortunately didn’t know this was black hat. They knew it wasn’t exactly the correct way to verify listings, but they had no idea what the long-term problems can be.

    When he called to ask that they delete the listings on their end, he was given some song and dance about how if they did that, it would somehow delete ALL of their clients’ Google Places listings. Worthless bunch, IMHO.

  6. Interested to know who are the people in charge of 411Local. A client that once hired their services said they claimed to be based in Las Vegas?

    Wonder where their base is and are they outsourcing any of their work to places outside the US?

    Anyone know?

  7. @Alex
    If nothing else it might bring a fair bit of attention to the problem

    @Billy
    Here is the Whois record. But I don’t know where the work is done.
    Billing ID:CR87479604
    Billing Name:Konstantin Stoyanov
    Billing Organization:411 Locals
    Billing Street1:2235 E Flamingo #113
    Billing Street2:
    Billing Street3:
    Billing City:Las Vegas
    Billing State/Province:Nevada
    Billing Postal Code:89119
    Billing Country:US
    Billing Phone:+1.7028453162

  8. I just got a call from them today wanting my business back, after I had left them for some very obvious reasons. They are now threatening to shut off my places ad that I had started before I went to them. I am in a day to day battle with their customers and it seems that Google has no time to control what they are doing. What if anything can be done to combat this issue?

  9. The only thing you can do is what poster HoskinsRick did… gather a comprehensive (as many as you can find) list of the Places listings that are bogus and post in the forums. If you get my attention, I will flag the list and bring it to Google’s attention.

  10. Sorry if this seems like a stupid question (and yes, I did follow a number of the links appearing in the post and in the comments), but can anyone tell me a little bit more info about 411 Locals? I’ve never heard of the website/company/organization (or whatever it is) before, although I did find a website with a similar name that does contain 411 in the URL.

    Is this what/whom everyone is referring to?

    I do apologize for taking the discussion a step backward, but if anyone can fill me in on exactly who/what 411 Locals is/are and what it/they do (besides sabotage, if anything) I would be very grateful for the info.

  11. I used 411 Locals a year ago for about 3 months. I decided to leave them and they have done their best to ruin my company Image on line. They have changed my listings to several different companies, they have listed me under different company names and used bogus telephone numbers which in turn has mis directed my customers. When I spoke with them they informed me the web is a free domain and they can post what they like. I am 45 years old and been in business for 20 years. I have never seen a company that has the power to alter the outcome of my business income such as this company with absolutely zero regulation. I have now hired an attorney to look over all the info that I have and see if i can legally do any thing about it. They need to be hit with multiple law suits at the same time and force them to pay up for legal services and hit them where it hurts…

  12. I noticed a poster was wondering who the 411 local were. They are based out of Las Vegas and interesting enough, business owners must not complain to BBB…here is there listing, <a href="http://www.bbb.org/southern-nevada/business-reviews/marketing-programs-and-services/411-locals-in-las-vegas-nv-80312&quot;. Perhaps more businesses should complain. It gives the details of owner information.

    I would think that Google could remove their website from search results, but you can type in 411 locals and their website is still there!

  13. For everyone who is wondering here is their info:

    Address:
    101 Convention Center Drive Suite #900 (between Las Vegas Blvd & Paradise)
    Direct Number:
    702-430-9064

    Source:
    Source

    A little common sense would show you they post on craigslist all the time. lol

  14. These people at 411 locals are nothing but crooks and extortioners. I paid them for services for over a year and finally when my credit card expired I did not renew. When they hit me for 3 months “back debt” I told them I would pay when I could and sat down to write the check on 9/13 but decided to check the listing. Not only was the link to my website inactive which I don’t mind but my website cannot even be pulled up online. HOW in the hell do they have the power to do this????? Also how can I get my website back online? Like Chris I’ve been in the cleaning business for over 10 years in SW FLorida and realy on my website for office to office sales efforts.

  15. This is BS.. if you go to the BBB you will see that they have a Good rating. its really sad that the speculation is so in accurate with no facts behind the accusations. Not everyone is going to be happy with a company and usually will slander the name of a business or a person when they are unhappy more then likely because they did not do their part in a business partnership. This company has had the same merchant for over 6 years and any complaints submitted have been verified by BBB and resolved That speaks volumes. If this company was “crooks and extortioners” as someone in this blog mentioned, they would have been shut down a long time ago. In fact 411Locals communicates with Google all the time when activating Listings. Don’t believe everything you see on the internet. its the internet.

  16. So my wife had the unfortunate ability to be working for them. It is very obvious that the principal owner ( his name is Connie) Is just an bully. My wife was sick (lost her voice) and could not work her department and she asked to help a different department. He then said you must not like your job then demoted her $4 an hour just because he could. She was also in training for management and he still expects her to stay. What a joke. Now we are looking for a reputable company that she can actually nt feel like a criminal.

  17. Hi,

    I’m a freelance copywriter in Las Vegas, I do work for 411 all the time, they are one of my regulars.

    I’m in and out of their office often.

    They’re nice people.

    I’ve spoken to their web guys in Bulgaria.

    They all seem descent and genuinely concerned about getting their customers on top of Google business listings–and frankly seem too busy to be involved in the shenanigans they are accused of.

    My suspicion is most of these complaints are from individuals who stopped service but expected they would get to keep their Google ranking website and placement on Google maps (which 411 provided).

    The idea that you can go to a restaurant once and get food their for life is ridiculous,

    So is the idea they would continue to work for companies after that company stops paying.

    I think these complaints are more about people who don’t understand that SEO is a constant, it’s constant work. The work stops, your optimization goes down.

  18. They are extremely aggressive and will say and do anything so you can keep your account. Trust me you won’t get any results from their service.
    I was stupid enough to sign up without doing my research, DON’T LET THIS BE YOU!

  19. Dont work with this company , overall terrible experience using them for 3 months in 2013. They harass you, dirty sales tactics , impossible to cancel and daily random phone calls. This company tries to act professional but they are not. Dont give them your credit card they will charge hidden fees at thir liesure.

    411 local victim 2013
    Total loss $225

  20. I have used these Guys they set me up as a lawn service when I do shoreline erosion control / Boulder walls took them 3 months to change everythingI finally decided to cancel then they made me an offerto stay with them they wanted me to sign an agreement on line I did not then turn around started billing me and never cancelled the website that they builtI told them to cancel the site I’ll pay them the hundred five dollars I owe them and go awayso I did that then they call me back and said the bank refused to release the money to them

  21. I just got a call from 411 locals. I was asking the sales agent Bailey for the pricing information and she hung up on me. A few minutes later I got a call stating my Google listing had been modified. Sounds like sabotage to me.

    I called them back to get more information and again, they hung up.

    Is there a class action suit against them yet? If so, let’s go after these clowns.

  22. I have just been contacted by a sales person from 411 Locals and the experience, just in the sales call, was jarring.

    I was pushed, rushed and bullied to sign up for their service immediately – I was told I had nothing to think over or research. The sales person was rude, condescending and aggressive.

    The sales person talked at racing speed and I could barely get a question answered.

    This company will not get my business because if the sales people are rude and insulting, I do not trust them.

    I am glad I finally got off the phone so I could do the research.

  23. I guess my last comment was was like tried to pay them 105 dollars that they said I owed them through my wells fargo bank accountwhich is in online banking count that wells fargo watches for fraud they refuse to pay them I just received Email from them yesterday demanding that I pay them Now they want 454.00 dollars from me i emailed them back asking how’s It go from 105 dollars the 454 dollars in a couple of months for a website that I cancel back in sept slash octoberI contacted them an Asked them to remove the website because I have another website and I built on there also I have contacted the attorney generals office here in minnesota and filed a complaint on them because I don’t believe they will ever give up and let you go,this is the second company SEO company that’s Pulled this crap on me I have a third 1 contact me here this past week by the name of Yodle best time to checKed them out and its the same thing. I’m really tired of being a target it’s hard enough To make a living these days and as far is east people coming on the site claiming that were all Nuts writing about this company we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t true what we’re sayingand there’s many more the don’t even write their comments in here that been screwed over by them

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments links could be nofollow free.