How a man tricked TripAdvisor into making his garden shed London’s top restaurant

A man wanted to find out how easy it would be to game the restaurant reviews on TripAdvisor so he opened his own fake ‘restaurant’ in his garden shed.

Oobah Butler did everything he needed to be legit – a landline and an address and made it appointment only to save the embarrassment of people turning up unannounced.

He also set up a website with pictures like this.

Looks great doesn’t it? Except the roasted pan fried scallops were made out of urinal cakes and food colouring.

Here’s what he told 5 Live.

“I spoke to family and friends and said please review it and do it in this manner and it started to go up the rankings. One day the phone rings and on the other end of the phone is an actual human trying to book a table at my non-existent restaurant.

“I panicked and said we’re fully booked for the next six weeks. That became my mantra. My phone had 116 missed calls on it, that’s how many reservation requests I was getting.”

Here’s what the ‘Shed at Dulwich’ looks like in reality.

Seven month later, he was number one in Trip Advisor’s restaurant rankings.

“I never thought the algorithm would let me get there, I thought as soon as it gets high up surely they will sniff out it doesn’t exist. It was there for about two weeks. I had people applying for jobs and suppliers turning up, people coming round asking where the Shed at Dulwich is.”

Its entry has since been deleted by TripAdvisor, so all that remains is the memory.

You can watch him here.

Listen to him here.

And read the whole story here on Vice.

You can tell the hoax has caught people’s imagination – they’re using it to make gags about Brexit.