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Seamless Ghosts Are Still Haunting New York City

Delivery spots do it to increase potential orders and have been doing making fake restaurants for years.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An ongoing practice in the restaurant industry to create fake listings on Seamless and Grubhub to increase potential orders is apparently still going on. NBC found that more than 10 percent of New York's 100 top-rated Seamless and GrubHub restaurants were "ghosts," or fake restaurants that are created by either a different, existing restaurant or unlicensed kitchens. The manager of one spot told NBC that it's an "open secret" among restaurant owners.

Indeed, restaurants with delivery service have been faking names and duping customers for years — even as far back as 2007, when phones were more used for delivery than the web. In one case, several mediocre "online restaurants" operated out of the same East Village kitchen. For East Village burger joint Blue 9 Burger, a fake listing called "Aaron's Grill" helped it go to the top of the alphabetical list of restaurants in 2012. And last year, Eater investigations found several restaurants that each had at least three fake listings. "When we have one line, it's hard to compete," restaurant Abby Chinese's manager tells NBC. "We know how many lines some of the other restaurants have."

Meanwhile, Seamless and GrubHub are not liable if a customer has a poor experience. But the delivery company said that it is partnering with the city's Department of Consumer Affairs to make sure the all the offerings on the sites are publicly registered to deliver food.

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