A small sampling of websites operated by 1-800-SKY-RIDES:
http://HawaiiBallooning.com - Site taken down after we exposed it
Get the picture?
One very interesting note is the page of testimonials, which are identical throughout this network of "local" sites:
"After spending the day with my family watching Brent prepare for our balloon, and then floating above the ocean together, I really feel as though he is a part of our family. He was fabulous with the kids, and took extra time to answer all their questions (and they had a lot!). This was the perfect family vacation! Thank you for making this possible for my family!"
--Quoted from "Amanda Caldwell – Dallas Texas"
on DallasBallooning.com (no ocean for hundreds of miles)
--Quoted from "Amanda Caldwell – South Bend Indiana"
on IndianaBallooning.com (no ocean for over 1000 miles)
--Quoted from "Amanda Caldwell – Lawton Oklahoma"
on OklahomaBallooning.com (no ocean for hundreds of miles)
--Quoted from "Amanda Caldwell – Toledo Ohio"
on OhioBallooning.com (no ocean in the middle of the country)
--Quoted from "Ashley Vowell – Kaneohe Hawaii"
on HawaiiBallooning.com. This is even more interesting, since there is not a single commercial balloon pilot flying rides in Hawaii. 1-800-SKY-RIDE is promoting and selling certificates for rides that are impossible to redeem anywhere in this state.
After we published the above example of fake testimonials, they have begun altering them slightly but it is obvious these are not genuine testimonials. For example, here is a search for the above "testimonial":
The site offering balloon rides in Hawaii has been taken down since we exposed it!
WOW! over 2200 pages with this same fake testimonial!! As you click through some of them, you'll discover the pilot may be "Brent" or "Don", and they may have floated over the "ocean", "desert" or "mountains" together. Do you think these 2000+ testimonials are genuine?
There is a strong likelihood 1800SKYRIDE will alter their pages so the above link doesn't show a whopping 2,230 identical testimonials, so here is a screen shot of the live search as it appears today in December 2007: