Amazon sues sellers using paid-for product reviews

Amazon’s brand is being damaged by "false, misleading and inauthentic" reviews – paid for by sellers – to lure buyers, the organisation says in a lawsuit

Online retailer Amazon is to take legal action against more than 1,000 people suspected of posting fake product reviews on its website.

Amazon’s brand is being damaged by "false, misleading and inauthentic" reviews paid for by sellers to lure buyers, the firm said in a lawsuit filed in Seattle, Washington.

"Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate," the lawsuit says.

The company allows anyone to review products sold on its website – but the rules specifically forbid paid-for reviews.

The move came six months after Amazon filed lawsuits against four firms that allegedly paid people to produce reviews posted on Amazon’s website, reports the BBC.

Amazon wants to eradicate paid-for reviews because the company believes they undermine the value of the review system.

The online retailer’s latest lawsuit is aimed at 1,114 individuals suspected of posting mostly five-star reviews for a fee of $5 on the professional services broking website Fiverr.com, which is working with Amazon to resolve the matter.

Amazon is reportedly seeking Fiverr’s help in establishing the real identity of those targeted by the lawsuit, which currently lists all the defendants as “John Doe”.

Fiverr has issued a statement saying that it removes services that violate its terms of use.

"The challenge of merchants soliciting illegitimate reviews is one that faces all marketplaces and online platforms," Fiverr said.

"In fact, in our own marketplace we restrict reviews to only those who we can verify have actually purchased a service."

Growth in bogus review market

Amazon said the lawsuit follows an investigation that included purchasing fake reviews on Fiverr from people who promised five-star ratings.

According to Amazon, fake review sellers attempted to avoid detection by using multiple accounts from unique IP addresses.

“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the company said in the lawsuit.

In a report published in June 2015, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said online reviews have been “distorted” by the growth of a “clandestine” market of bogus reviews, according to the Guardian.

The CMA report said reviews formed an important part of consumers’ decision-making, with 54% of UK adults reading online reviews.

According to the CMA, £23bn a year of UK consumer spending could be influenced by online reviews, across the six broad sectors it analysed.

Although several sites that publish reviews told the CMA they suspected 1% to 2% of all reviews of being fake, the exact scale of the issue of bogus reviews in the UK is unknown, according to the CMA

“Given the clandestine nature of the fake reviews, it would almost impossible to arrive at a credible figure,” the CMA report said.

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That is why I look at the ones that say verified purchase. I get emails from site asking for product review for items I have bought. I think this should be the only way the review could be added. There is a possibility that a seller could have "fake customers" buy an item that never ships just to allow a review post. The company would still have to pay the Amazon fee on the sale and this may prevent the bogus reviews.
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Good! I hate that it is so difficult to discern what is a legit review these days. They used to be somewhat obvious, with their flowery language and often broken English. I think now the fake reviewers have become a bit more savvy, and will mention some tiny issue with a product while still giving the highest rating, to appear more authentic. 
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I have even heard commercials, on the radio, for a company that says they can remove negative reviews about your company from websites. Then they say they can help promote new business with positive reviews... If they do not own the website, how can they remove a negative post? I can see the possibility that they can have a staff that goes to a lot of sites and gives fake positive reviews in order to drive down the negative ones. Like you mention abuell, some are easy to spot because of broken English or they are cut and paste from site to site. I think all websites should only allow verified purchases to post reviews.
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