Fake Houston-area restaurant pages popping up on Facebook

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Fake Facebook restaurants popping up around Houston, Pooja Lodhia reports. (KTRK)

Ask anyone why they love Houston and you can bet "food" will be near the top of the list. If you're like many of us, you find new restaurants through social media.

But, what if the Facebook pages you're looking at are fake?

"It's like cat-fishing," laughed Isabel Reverte. "You know, like that TV series."

We found dozens of fake restaurant pages all around Houston. How do we know? Well, we went to the addresses listed, and the places didn't exist.

In fact, some photos used on the Facebook pages were ripped off other pages.

"It makes me really angry because we work really hard here to build a reputation and establishment since 2012," explained Jasmine Chida, who owns Sweet Cup, a gelato shop in Montrose.

Chida said customers started calling a few months ago, asking about her location in Chinatown.

She doesn't have a location in Chinatown.

"It was getting so disruptive that our voicemail got full from it," Chida explained. "From people saying they can't find our shop."

Turns out, a Facebook page for "Bop's Gelato" had used pictures from her store.

"It's a fake address," Chida said. "I don't know if it's a trap to trap people."

Chida said she immediately contacted Facebook and reported her stolen photos. She said she never heard anything back.

ABC13 also reached out to Facebook for comment but we haven't heard back yet.

But the big question is, why would somebody take the time to make a Facebook page for a fake restaurant?

"Could be someone is actually trying to get a huge number of likes for another business so they're using a fake restaurant name and then after they get that huge number, then they change the name to that other business," explained Leah Napoliello, the Senior Director of Investigative Services with Houston's Better Business Bureau.

She says Houston's BBB has never seen this before.

"They also could be trying to data mine," she explained. "To try to get people who have liked their pages so they could use that for their own purposes."
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