Traveling and dining out can get very expensive, so many people turn to online reviews of hotels and restaurants. But can you believe everything you read? Two well known sites were put to the test.

Before making travel plans, Michelle Madhok does her homework by checking online reviews. She discovered that what you see isn't always what you get. "There was a hotel where the review said it was within walking distance to the beach. It was only within walking distance if you were willing to walk two miles."

Ed Perkins, author of Online Travel, warns consumers about fabricated reviews. "There's no guarantee that a rave review for any given hotel wasn't prepared by that hotel's PR director.”

Online travel services like Massachusetts-based takes these false reviews seriously, says spokesperson Christine Petersen. "We actually have a PH.D. on staff who has looked at every single bit and bite and he's come up with a way of detecting what might be fraudulent reviews."

Another popular Web site, Citysearch, uses a team of readers to try to spot shams. "When we see a few reviews in a row that have the same kind of language, use the same adjectives over and over again, it's pretty obvious," says Leigh Niles Reason.

How well do these systems work?

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