State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday that 19 companies have agreed to cease the practice of writing fake online reviews for businesses and pay more than $350,000 in penalties.

After a one year undercover investigation into the manipulation of consumer review websites and the reputation management industry, it was found that companies had flooded the internet with fake consumer reviews on websites such as Yelp, Google Local and Citysearch.

Schneiderman's office found that many of the companies used techniques to hide their identities by creating fake online profiles on consumer review websites and paying freelance writers in foreign countries for fake reviews.

By producing fake reviews, the 19 companies violated multiple state laws against false advertising and engaged in in illegal and deceptive business practices.