Thervo “Top 10 Business” Badge Scam

As someone who only works with attorneys for online marketing, I come across countless situations where I’m asked to identify if something is legitimate or a scam. Clients email me all the time asking if something should be ignored, is worth paying attention to, or actually worth investing marketing dollars in. I’m careful here to call Thervo’s marketing tactic to attorneys a “sham”, and not a scam but you can be the judge.

UPDATE: Jan 24, 2019 – I’ve updated my opinion on Thervo’s badge system from “sham” to “scam” based on the feedback from numerous comments and phone calls. Prospective and past customers of Thervo report to me constant email spamming despite requests to stop, deceptive marketing practices, deceptive emails and other complaints. Full disclosure, I have never used their service so I’m not claiming I have personal experience as a customer. Based on my experience as stated below, and the feedback from others it seems like their whole operation could be a scam. Read this article and the comments below, draw your own conclusions and feel free to correct me if you’ve had a different experience. It’s been 6 months since I’ve published this and no one from Thervo has contacted me to correct any misinformation.

One of my clients got an Email today from Thervo notifying them that they have been identified as a “Top 10 Business” and that they should show this off by displaying their “achievement badge” on their website. This type of social confirmation marketing helps communicate to your potential clients that you’re a credible business that has been recognized by some sort of 3rd party authority (Thervo in this instance). When installed on the website, a badge/logo appears that displays some sort of certification or credential, and often links back to the attorney profile on that website. Many legal marketing companies like Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell and SuperLawyers use this tactic because it’s beneficial to link back to your profile (although opinions are mixed). So what’s wrong with Thervo’s approach?

Here’s what Thervo is doing, which I believe to be underhanded and unethical

Backlinks from websites are still a major ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. When a bunch of attorneys link to a website, Google sees that as a signal that the destination website must be highly relevant for something – which in turn increases the ranking of that website. In the case of Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell and SuperLawyers the link from the badge takes the User to your profile on their website (it’s mutually beneficial marketing). Look closely at the code embedded in the Thervo badge from the Email screenshot. If you install this badge on your website, your potential client may click on it and you’ll be sending them to https://thervo.com/lawyers so you can help them find a competitor – not your firm profile on their website.

Once your potential client lands on the Thervo page, they go through a question and answer decision tree. After entering all the information about their legal matter, I assume, that “lead” then gets sold to subscribing attorneys (Pay-Per-Lead) – and you helped the process happen and simultaneously helped increase Thervo’s ranking on Google… which may eventually become your competitor in Google’s organic results. In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with Pay-Per-Lead OR an “achievement badge” as a marketing tactic. The difference here is that Thervo is manipulating you into believing that you’ll be getting the benefit of a recognition badge, when in reality you’re helping send your potential clients to a competitor all while assisting Thervo in their SEO efforts.

Adding insult to injury

Once the User submits all of their information through Thervo’s website, they’re sent an email notifying them that their info has been sent to attorneys who serve the area for their legal matter. What’s the problem? You, nor any attorney is listed on the email. The User’s case is now up for sale to local subscribing attorneys (I assume).

In their Email, Thervo states that the “…selections are listed alphabetically on the website” which might suggest that there’s a list somewhere that’s publicly available – which I have yet to find.

UPDATE: April 15, 2019 – It now appears that Thervo has a list of lawyers to choose from on their website, which are populated based on your IP address. When you try to change your zip code, you are then forced into their Q&A decision tree so they can sell your lead to subscribers.

No response from Thervo yet…

I’ve forwarded the Email to Thervo’s customer service asking them why they’re using this tactic and if they think it’s unethical. I have not received a reply at the time of publishing, but will publish it if I get one. I’d be happy to update this article if they can explain to me in any way how this is beneficial to an attorney or any other business owner.

*Note: You may be asking why I linked to Thervo’s website if it helps their SEO effort. The link is coded as a “no-follow” link and provides them no SEO value.

About The Author

Doug Bradley
Doug Bradley
I work with law firms to increase their presence on search engines through website optimization. Marketing a law firm hasn’t been “like it used to be” for a while now and the only guarantee is that it will continue to change. Learn more about my experience here.

30 Comments

  • Joel Smith on July 11, 2018

    Great write-up. It is way to often that people are taken advantage by these tactics. It is things like this that make it difficult for business professionals to know what does and doesn’t help their business marketing. It also makes it hard for the true professionals to gain trust when so many are working in this fashion.

    • Doug Bradley on July 12, 2018

      Thanks Joel,
      This is exactly my point. The more companies like this practice unethical behavior, the more prospective clients hate professional marketing companies because they tend to believe they’re all operating solely in their best interest. I don’t knock Thervo’s service, but their execution, lack of transparency and dishonest marketing tactics are unacceptable.

  • Melissa J Bennae on July 29, 2018

    Thank you for the tip! I was researching this after I received the same type of email.

    • Doug Bradley on August 6, 2018

      You’re welcome Melissa, I hope this saves you some frustration.

  • dr Csoka on August 6, 2018

    They do not leave me alone: I have unsubscribed and thervo keeps contacting me daily! Any advice how to stop them? (already sent many request to them, no preavil).

    • Doug Bradley on August 6, 2018

      Hi Dr. Csoka,
      As a business owner myself, the only suggestion I have is to tell them to put you on their “Do not call” list. Otherwise, put their Emails in your Spam folder. This will prevent future emails from clogging up your inbox. I hope this is helpful.

  • David on August 6, 2018

    One of the biggest problems that I have run in to is that I receive emails saying “so and so is looking for an attorney”. It costs credits to send them a quote. However, the details are so vague, that I have absolutely no idea what kind of attorney they are looking for. Therefore, I have yet to be presented with a potential client that I know is looking for the type of work we do.

    Name withheld, but this is an actual potential lead I was given today that would cost 2 credits to make contact with:

    Job type: Attorney
    Type of attorney: Civil
    Service needed: Consultation
    Travel preference : Phone or internet (no in-person meeting)
    When: In the next few days
    Message:
    Where: Zephyrhills, FL 33541
    Phone number: Not available
    Request expires : Tue Aug 7, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    • Doug Bradley on August 6, 2018

      I don’t know about the validity of their advertising, but I know most attorneys wouldn’t pay for a lead sight unseen. Especially when leads go stale after 5-10 minutes.

  • Judi Meisenhelder on August 13, 2018

    Thanks so much for this. I just got an email for them and wanted to check it out before I did anything. I’m glad I did.

    • Doug Bradley on August 13, 2018

      I’m glad we were able to help you with some good information.

  • Glenn Carlson on August 17, 2018

    Doug: Thervo really hits enrolled agents, CPAs and other accounting services equally hard in their email marketing. Thanks for breaking down their code. Your advice to attorneys is equally valuable to us. Your point that there may be some intrinsic value to Thervo leads but that this essentially evaporates after a few minutes in their “open market” is on point.

    • Doug Bradley on August 17, 2018

      Thank you Glenn, I’ve been seeing a lot of response from people in multiple industries because the sham/scam is the same for everyone. They reel a business owner in with potentially beneficial marketing collateral, and then essentially stab them in the back immediately by selling your potential client’s matter to another service provider. It may not be illegal, but it’s certainly dirty business.

    • Stephen Backman on February 9, 2019

      Doug & Glen. BEWARE< BEWARE< BEWARE. We are an Accounting Service firm. Mine read “Payroll Services for Linda V. (Pueblo dep ac, co)”. Thervo “You have a new request from LINDA V. Who needs Payroll Services in PUEBLO DEP AC, CO.” Email address Vanlinda757@gmail. What a scam. Worked for her for two weeks processing payables. Kept getting worse, quite and got a “Altered/Fraudulent” check for my service, per my bank. Replacement check was drawn on Wells Fargo, everything was correct except the account did not exist. It’s in the hands of the FBI now, going to IRS next. HOWEVER, I have got a few leads from Thervo that were good leads. My wife told me. “Don’t do it”, I should have listened.

      • Doug Bradley on April 15, 2019

        Hi Stephen, Thanks for taking time to post about this. You’re the very first person since July, 2018 to state that you actually got some legitimate leads from Thervo.

  • jksmith on September 5, 2018

    Here is the email I got today:
    Subject: Lawyer Needed
    XXXXXXXXXX,

    It’s Emily Greer from Thervo.com. I have a new customer Jessica A. who needs lawyer near Coachella, so I thought you’d be interested in this referral. 🙂

    View the customers details to see if you’re interested, then contact Jessica directly.

    • Doug Bradley on September 10, 2018

      It’s funny that they phrase it as a “referral” – which it isn’t. If it were actually written truthfully it would say something like “A User may or may not have entered accurate information into our website and they might need your service. Would you like to purchase the User’s contact information?”

      • Derek Jardieu on December 6, 2018

        Thanks for sharing. I received a nearly identical email today from Ms. Greer, except replace Jessica A. with Jessica G. (what a coincidence) and Coachella with Fairfax. I have never previously interacted with Thervo.com in any way.

  • ClyddeBeatty on September 9, 2018

    I received an email today. Typical scam saying they had a client matching my expertise. Funny…. They assumed we were what the client needed based on our company name (which actually) has nothing to do with what we offer. The sending email address is non existent and checking their website, it is what every unethical similar boiler room operation uses. Be afraid. Be very afraid and these bottom feeders are going to get the internet controlled by the federal authorities; something we should all be afraid of.

    • Doug Bradley on September 10, 2018

      It seems the Pay-Per-Lead playbook is to send an Email saying something along the lines of “we have a client needing your service, all you have to do is add a credit card”. I stand by my statement in the article, PPL can be a viable marketing option but their marketing is deceptive.

  • Bob Castle on October 9, 2018

    Thank you all for raising critical questions about how the Thervo system operates. While I have obtained one actual client who found me on Thervo, my counseling services are equally well advertised on numerous other website directories, with no pay-per-lead. These always contain a brief narrative message that is obviously composed by a real person.
    I used up one batch of paid credits responding a dozen or more client inquiries before it dawned on me that the Thervo email messages were all menu driven, with no personal message supplied by the client. Is it possible that some portion of Thervo’s leads are being generated by a robot, which creates the list of services needed and geographical placement based on my profile? This would prompt the vendor to use up credits, and perhaps purchase more, only to continue responding to virtual ghosts, not actual clients. Has anyone else had this suspicion?

    • Doug Bradley on October 9, 2018

      Hi Bob,
      I can’t actually say how their service operates or performs after a customer has signed up, the limitations of this article is about their deceptive marketing tactics. To answer your question directly, I am guessing that it’s “technically” possible that leads are being generated by a robot, or what would be more likely is that an off-shore vendor is filling out bogus contact forms. However, at this time there is no evidence of that and that would be flat-out fraud. There is no accusation by me that this is the case at this time, and I would be very careful to make that allegation.

    • Dr S. on January 26, 2019

      Thank you for your article and feedback from others regardoing Thervo.com. I was wondering about this referral network and how they go about referring patients/clients to a prospective provider. Their network appears tobe quite suspicious, and wonder if these people actually exist. I also presented a question to Thervo.com about four times to ask if their referral program was HIPPA Compliant. I have not received any response to answer my question.

  • SebastinoRYK on January 29, 2019

    Thervo is not designed to actually connect consumers with reputable businesses. I know because I was dumb enough to pay them to buy some of their referral “credits”. As a business owner in Thervo, when you do receive a “referral”, you’re expected to send them a “quote” for your services with virtually no information whatsoever about the prospective customer. In addition – any successful business owner knows that only an idiot would give a price for something before even making a presentation (or even meeting or speaking with the prospect). Even dumber, the consumer is told that they will be receiving a “customized quote” from businesses. There’s nowhere near enough information collected or shared to produce a custom quote for anything. The end game of Thervo is sell these “referral credits” to business owners based on the lie that they can expect quality referrals. As a matter of fact, it’s based on the lie that Thervo ALREADY has a quality referral to share with them. They don’t, but you don’t find that out until after they’ve charged your credit card.

    • Doug Bradley on April 15, 2019

      Yes, as mentioned earlier there’s a theory floating around that the “leads” are just bots or spammers paid to generate leads within the website and exhaust your budget. Unfortunately I think that would be impossible to prove.

  • Connie J Willkomm on January 31, 2019

    a bunch of dead end leads, and like someone noted above, the requests are so vague, its nearly impossible to quote. most people are just trying to find the cheapest provider, not really and expert for their needs. I’m glad I didn’t add their badge to my website.

    • Doug Bradley on April 15, 2019

      That tends to be the common theme. One person suggested that they are just bots or spammers paid to generate leads within the website and exhaust your credits, and force you to purchase more, but that is unsubstantiated.

  • Rev. Carlene Appel on February 24, 2019

    Thank you for this information. I got an email from them and only did the basic sign up. There is another one called BARK.COM that operates the same way. I bought credits several times but never got a single job out of it. I will definitely not continue with another one like that again. Thank you for the heads up.

    • Doug Bradley on April 15, 2019

      Thank you Rev. Appel, Bark has also recently hit my radar but I haven’t had the opportunity to as deep of investigation as I did here. I’m careful to throw the baby out with the bath water as many of these types of services operate legitimately. I am wondering if there is a connection between Thervo and Bark.

  • Jeff Goldstein on March 18, 2019

    Excellent Article and Thank You!

    As the owner of several Legal Directories which are targeted at different venues, I can tell you it takes a large amount of work to get the needed back links. From you write it seems these guys are just screwing the system and they may not even be legal themselves. I will be keeping an eye on these guys to see in the end what happens.

    Thanks again for this article, very much appreciated.

    • Doug Bradley on April 15, 2019

      Thanks for the feedback Jeff. I can’t state that they’re a complete scam with 100% confidence, but there’s a lot of evidence that points that way. It’s very strange that no one from Thervo has yet to reach out to set the record straight.

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