Thai police have arrested a British man for a negative review left on Google Maps over a conflict with a Phuket restaurant owner.

Officers from the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok have arrested a British man wanted in Phuket province since the middle of last year for negative reviews of a Phuket restaurant left on Google Maps.

Crime Branch officers arrested the Briton on 9 May at a Bangkok flat after the restaurant owner filed a complaint at Sakhu police station, claiming the fake reviews had damaged the restaurant’s reputation.

British citizen Alexander, 21, was arrested on 23 August 2023 under an arrest warrant issued by the Phuket Provincial Court on charges of ‘entering false and damaging information to the public into a computer system,’ Khaosod reported.

The investigation revealed that in mid-2022, Alexander, who was living in a flat in Phuket, had a dispute with the owner of an Italian restaurant over access to the young man’s accommodation.

Although the restaurant had incurred costs and had specifically organised a convenient alternative access to the flat, the Briton preferred to enter the flat through the restaurant’s premises. The restaurant owner persistently advised Alexander to refrain from using this route, much to the young man’s dismay.

The restaurant later discovered that customers’ scores on Google Maps had dropped dramatically, lowering the restaurant’s rating from 4.9 to 3.1 out of a possible five stars. An investigation revealed that the restaurant had received numerous negative reviews in a short period of time, with a minimum rating of one star.

The negative reviews were authored and initiated by Alexander, who used false and misrepresented statements to harm the restaurant. In retaliation for being banned from the restaurant, Alexander enlisted the help of friends or used various accounts on his own to flood the restaurant with negative reviews, severely lowering the establishment’s rating on the charts.

The outraged restaurant owner then filed a complaint with the Sakhu Police Station in Phuket. Investigators gathered evidence and requested an arrest warrant from the court. However, Alexander fled Phuket for Bangkok, where the defamer was apprehended.

Police Major Jomparit Kaewreung of the Crime Branch said: ‘The suspect has been handed over to the investigating officer at Sakhu police station for further legal proceedings. On interrogation, the Briton denied all charges.’

In October 2020, a similar case happened to a US citizen arrested over a negative review of a hotel left on TripAdvisor.

The American, who worked as an English teacher in Thailand, faced severe consequences for posting a negative review of the resort. Two months later, immigration police came directly to his workplace with an arrest warrant.

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