7 On Your Side Reporter Michael Finney gets surprised by false online reviews

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More and more of us are dropping our cable or satellite TV services and opting for TV antennas or streaming video. There is a lot about this on the internet and some of it caught me by surprise.

7 On Your Side viewers first brought several websites to my attention. They are featuring articles with enthusiastic claims from experts.

"Famous NASA Scientist, Reveals How Seniors Can Get FREE Cable TV..."

"Japanese Scientist Reveals How To Watch Any Movie, Show or TV Channel For FREE..."

Go further into these websites and you'll find another expert: me. There is a video report of mine, quotes attributed to me like "Skylink is the real deal" and there is even a timeline of my extensive TV antenna testing.

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All of this is leading to questions like those from Harlem Globetrotter Alum and Santa Rosa resident, Jerry Smith.

"Are you endorsing this product." He asked me, "Are you looking at this? Did you talk about it...did you review it"?

Jerry isn't the only one with these types of questions. Basil out of Petaluma wrote 7 On Your Side, "Is that true or is some scammer just using Mr. Finney's name?" Jeff in San Jose asks, "Are you actually endorsing that product"?

The short answer, "No," I do not endorse products.

An ABC7 News producer/researcher tried to track down the informational sites using my name, he was unable to find the companies listed as owners. The sites link to two different antenna providers. One is SkyLink and I spoke with its outside legal counsel.

"The concerns you expressed to us are not just legitimate," John Du Wors told me, "but completely shared by my client."

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He says an affiliate marketer went rogue. Those are the guys who get paid to drive traffic to websites. It is a murky world where the affiliate names are hidden by the networks that hire them. Du Wors says Skylink had its networking company shut down the affiliate or remove it from Skylinks account. That appears to have happened.

Du Wors told me, "We hate deceptive marketing practices like misappropriation of your likeness and the false presentation of your endorsement as much as you or more."

I reached out to the other antenna company, Livewave, but haven't yet had a conversation with decision makers there.

When Jerry was concerned he called me, a good move and here's his advice, "There are a lot of people out there that look at this and they say, 'Oh, this is great' and they automatically buy it and it turns out later they will have to contact you anyways...and you'll come up and say, OK I will take care of this."

So be careful out there and when something doesn't seem right, let me know about it.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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