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This week we will be working on a story, involving several Turtleboy bloggers. It’s classic, old school Turtleboy Investigates.Several of us have been working together to put this blog series together. So we apologize if there’s less content on our site this week, as we prefer quality over quantity.
North Shore Eats is a Facebook group founded by Beverly resident Greg Bates, where people are supposed to share recommendations for places to eat all over the North Shore from Lynn to Newburyport.
Over the years they have grown to over 35,000 members, and thus the perception is that if you can post on the group page, you can increase your business revenue. Greg Bates is the head administrator of the page, and thus he controls content that people see, in a very similar manner to the way Zuckerberg’s algorithms control what you see on your feed.
The problem is that the group was created to be an open forum about food, which is why so many have joined. But many restaurants on the north shore feel pressured to join and go along with Greg’s rules since he alleges to have so much economic power over them. Here is the description for the page:
We’ve been watching this page for well over a month since it was brought to our attention. We’ve gathered so much information that this will have to be a mutli-blog series. If you have more information you’d like to share with us about this group and Greg Bates, please email email@example.com.
From our investigation thus far it’s fair to say that there are a number of mistruths and outright lies in the NSE mission statement:
We are the original, largest North Shore foodie group that only represents the customer!
North Shore Eats does not represent the customer. It represents Greg Bates and those who pay him for the exposure.
We allow no ad dollars from restaurants.
They collect ad revenue from restaurants in the form of both cash and gift cards. He claims he does not force them to give him gift cards, but this is a lie we can disprove.
This site is all about opinions of restaurants please feel free to share them. Good and bad.
Opinions are frequently banned, as are posters, if they say positive things about restaurants that are not paying Greg Bates. Others have been banned simply for unfriending him on Facebook. He does not allow bad opinions about restaurants who are paying him, and he does not allow good opinions about restaurants who are not paying him. Often he uses the relative power he seems to get off on by being the admin of such a large page in order to shame businesses who have the audacity of not paying him to advertise, and urge his followers not to do business there.
If your just here to trash a restaurant this is not the group for you. Keep your opinions about fellow members to yourself to remain a member. We do not have to agree…however your opinions about restaurants will help us make our own decisions. Play nice. Thank you.
By filtering out posts about restaurants who refuse to be extorted by his scams, he does not allow members to make their own decisions about restaurants.
To remain a member please do not… Be disrespectful (it is fine to disagree) , private message another member soliciting your business, use vulgarity or threats or any mistreatment of any kind, create drama.
As you will see, Greg Bates is the king of drama on this page. He’s just very sneaky, sly, and careful with his wording, so as to come across as a nice guy who wants to get along with everyone.
Attention Restaurants All restaurants are welcome on this page. I do ask that you don’t just share your post from your page. Please create a post just for us and introduce yourself as the owner or Mgr. Members love to be engaged by the owners and no one has more passion for their business than you!
Not all restaurants are welcomed on his page. Several are outright banned from even being mentioned, including former advertisers who gave him gift cards for months before canceling due to issues relating to Greg.
Also I am overwhelmed with gift card give away request and I just cant get to everyone so you may have to message me a few times and hopefully we can accommodate you at some point but remember your always welcome on the page!
The only restaurant owners welcome on his page are those who continue to pay him every month.
Restaurants supply us with gift cards because of the massive amount likes and shares our contest provide. We use these cards for contest, reviews and donations to support the community.
He uses the cards for himself, but does raffle off others. However, a lot of the money from the raffles is unaccounted for and never made it to the ARC foundation that he claims to be both an advocate for, and an employee of.
Greg Determining Gift Card Winners. I assign a # to every comment 1-xxx. I then use and on line random number generator. Once the # is generated I personally count each comment to the selected # and that is how the winner is chosen.
He doesn’t use this method to choose winners for the gift card raffles. On at least one occasion (that we know of) he created a fake user name and awarded himself the gift cards as the winner of the raffle. Other restaurant owners have complained that the gift cards they gave to him were never raffled off, and that he uses them for himself. Greg himself will be the first person to tell you that he goes out to eat twice a day due to all the free gift cards he extorts from local businesses:
Group Facebook pages are meant to be forums for discussion, which is what the group claims to be in it’s mission statement. Facebook does allow business pages (like us) for business organizations. However, Greg Bates never registered this as a business with the secretary of state and he does not report any of the income he makes off it to the IRS. He is essentially running an unregistered gypsy marketing company. He acts as a food critic, but has no background in it, nor does he have any business or restaurant background.
He hides behind the guise that he is donating all money raised to a local autism foundation. But there is no formal tax ID or non-profit for this, despite the large amount of money channeling through him. It’s essentially just him taking gift cards, and giving them away or selling them. His story that he doesn’t profit off the site or collect ad revenue is an easily disprovable lie.
He is also deeply in debt, is voluntarily unemployed in order to keep money away from creditors and his ex-wife, was sentenced to 30 days in jail for not paying child support, and his ex-wife alleges that he threatened suicide around the children forcing her to seek a restraining order. It seems as if the entire purpose of the page is a way for him to make money under the table so that it can’t be traced, and thus his ex-wife can’t get it from him.
Their divorce was an extremely messy one, and her allegations are very serious. Although his personal life should be irrelevant, it has carried over into his scam and seems to be a way for him to keep money from her. In the divorce filings he says that if she does not give him sex he will be forced to pay for it, which will affect the budget. His ex-wife alleges he has threatened her with violence and even rape, which is why she has a restraining order. She also claims that he once kissed his boys good bye and told them he was going to kill himself, then pretended to die. It’s insane if true.
He purports that any restaurant can post on his page, leading customers to believe that the deals being offered are from committed business owners who are invested in the community. And they are good businesses. But many of them feel that Greg uses his influence (from the 35,000 followers he has access to) to wield power and bully them into paying him every month to stay on the site. They’ve seen what happens to others who don’t play along, as we’ve heard from dozes of these business owners.
He claims that restaurant owners see a tremendous amount of business as a direct result of him coming to their restaurants and posting about it. But every restaurant owner we have spoken with claim that this does not happen. When they try to leave, he tells them they are no longer welcome on his page, and often bad mouths businesses that do not pay to play.
He tells advertising partners that he will come to their restaurant every month, so long as they provide him with a gift card for a family of four. He claims that he is unbiased, but has told advertisers that if they pay he will only say positive things about them. He does not tell his followers that, and thus they assume that he is being honest while masquerading as a legitimate food critic.
He has threatened rival Facebook group pages that review local restaurants, especially those who infringe on his monopoly. One of these group pages is in Merrimack Valley, and he threatened them with a lawsuit because he copyrighted the word “Eats.”
He claims that restaurants get tons of “likes” and exposure due to his requirement that people share and comment on posts about the restaurants. However, these are not authentic, amount to spam, and don’t lead to direct sales conversions.
He uses his association with ARC to get restaurants to donate gift cards for his raffle. He then sells raffle tickets for $10 each, and has raised over $15,000 for ARC. But a substantial amount of that money is unaccounted for it and he doesn’t have a valid explanation as to where it went.
Greg Bates first began to make people weary of his intentions, and first came to our attention, due to an incident he provoked in early May. He went to cash a check at TD Bank from an advertiser, which was made out to him. But publicly he claimed it was for the autistic foundation. Yet he was trying to cash the check, instead of depositing it into his account, which aroused suspicion. TD Bank charges a fee to cash checks since they are a business and he doesn’t have an account there. He lost his mind, made a huge scene, urged his followers to give bad reviews to TD Bank’s Facebook page, and claimed they were “extorting” him by charging him for the fee. His ex-wife alleges that he drinks every day, and he has since deleted that post.
As it turns out Greg Bates doesn’t have a bank account in order to avoid court ordered child support that would be taken from him. It’s the same reason he chooses not to work, even though he can work. Last summer he was sentenced to 30 days in jail for not paying child support, and he also was sued by a rental property LLC for nonpayment. For that reason all the cash in the business goes through his girlfriend, who has an autistic son who Greg exploits for personal gain.
His girlfriend’s name is Suzanne, and he often posts using his Facebook page when he wants to be rude and combative. When he uses his real name he tries to come across as reasonable and decent.
Despite claiming to be such a big advocate for the autistic, he doesn’t seem to know much about autism, and once referred to the autistic as “retards.”
He told the client who gave him the check (that TD Bank charged him a fee to cash) that a police officer from Peabody told him that he should ban her from the page because she cannot be trusted. When the officer found out he publicly posted that this was a lie, and now Greg Bates is claiming it was not him who sent the restaurant owner that message. We have proof that it is.
Everyone on the page worships him, he claims that he doesn’t ban restaurants from his page, and that only two have left voluntarily. A lie.
And for that reason he is able to continue running his scam. But the truth must get out, and we will expose all of the things he is doing this week.
Poor Jay Rose here is on our side, but he doubts we will follow through on this because he thinks we are lazy:
This one’s for you Jay.