A Coast cafe has been affected by a malicious social media campaign.
A Coast cafe has been affected by a malicious social media campaign. Thinkstock

Cyber attack leaves business scrambling to save reputation

A MALICIOUS social media campaign has left a Coast cafe owner scrambling to uphold her business's reputation.

The Nines Emporium cafe owner Janice Kuz has been in damage control since someone used a fake Facebook profile to attack customers.

Abusive and threatening messages were sent to customers who had given the cafe less than five-out-of-five star ratings on its Facebook page.

They were sent about 3pm Saturday from a duplicate profile of a friend of Miss Kuz.

Miss Kuz thinks about 30 or 40 customers were targeted.

She immediately started receiving messages from angry customers who were incensed at being attacked for leaving a review.

The attacks were a complete conflict with the way Miss Kuz conducted business.

"Anything less than five stars I take as constructive criticism," Miss Kuz said.

"I know we have things to work on."

But customers believed them to be genuine.

Negative ratings began flooding The Nines Emporium Facebook page as word of the nasty messages spread.

Miss Kuz spent most of the remainder of her weekend responding to customers and assuring them the messages were a hack.

She said most of the customers understood when she explained how the Facebook profile was a duplicate of her friend's actual profile.

The fake had been created three hours before the messages were sent and had no friends.

She said the cafe had mostly received five-star Facebook reviews since it opened in the Sunshine Homemaker Centre in Maroochydore about 18 months ago.

"I ended up having to take down the ratings," Miss Kuz said.

It was frustrating because she and her team had worked hard to earn the ratings.

They took pride in them.

"It (Facebook) is a great platform to build a business but if you use it the wrong way you can ruin someone," Miss Kuz said.

"It just took five minutes to turn it all around."

Miss Kuz said the fake profile had been reported by one of the targeted customers and removed from Facebook.

She will contact the police to see if any action can be taken.

It has come as the cafe prepares to host a fundraiser on Friday for Caloundra father-of-two Troy Lister, who is battling an aggressive brain tumour.

Miss Kuz was concerned the negative messages could impact on the event's success.

"It is someone on a keyboard compared to us trying to raise money to save a man's life."

The cafe has offered a $500 reward to anyone who can help Miss Kuz find the person who caused the damage.

Anyone with information can call the cafe on 5443 4463.