Suing fake people to restore online reputationFiling a lawsuit against an individual who doesn't exist is the newest way to remove negative comments about businesses online, BuzzFeed reports
UCLA professor Eugene Volokh explains how this odd, but popular, approach works: 
"The scheme relies on Google's compliance with court orders to remove pages with defamatory content from its search results," said Professor Volokh, "There is no reason for Google to question a state court order which has found a piece of content defamatory."
Since the first case was uncovered, Volokh has come across many more cases against online commenters. In at least five of these cases, the defendant did not even exist. All cases shared similar characteristics and legal language and were filed in state courts without an attorney.
In every case, the defendant, or someone pretending to be them, agreed they had made a defamatory comment. This allowed the courts to issue a takedown order which means Google and the other leading search engines and internet companies must remove the content from their indexes.
According to TechDirt, a court order is hard to obtain, but the plaintiffs from these cases have managed to receive one within days of filing a lawsuit. A typical case, if allowed to proceed to this stage, would not permit the issue of a court order for several months. 
One of the most insidious aspects of this scheme is that it covers the whole subdomain where the negative comment was left, not just the comment itself. This feature could potentially allow the lawsuits to be exploited for SEO purposes, harming competitors' search rankings and helping the companies issuing the lawsuits rank more prominently.
Adding further to the illegitimacy of the lawsuits, the two attorneys found to be behind the lawsuits have both had their licenses suspended on several occasions. 
For an example of how these cases work, consider a recent report from The Washington Post. In this case, a consumer left a negative review about a dentist on several websites. A few months later, the reviewer was contacted by Yelp, which informed him that they would be removing his negative comments.
However, the reviewer never knew he was being sued, and the dentist about whom he complained did not authorize the lawsuit. What happened, in fact, was that the dentist had hired a reputation management company, who apparently initiated the lawsuit and has been behind many of the suspicious cases. 
The owner of the company was contacted and denied all allegations, stating that there will be no further comment. 
Other lawsuits meant to de-index negative comments have been aimed at organizations like the Charleston Post & Courier, Leagle.com, Dharmawheel.net, RipOffReport.com, and many others. While online reputation management companies have long since been used to help businesses manage their online presences and enhance their visibility, these new lawsuits are a problem for competitor companies and consumers alike, since the removal of negative comments may lead to an improper impression of a company or business.