Amazon is suing 1,114 “fake reviewers” after the company conducted an investigation, and the retailer claims thousands of “false” and “misleading” reviews have been posted on the US version of its website. The company posed as potential customers on Fiverr, an online platform for buying and selling minor tasks, where the defendants allegedly offered to write fake reviews starting at just $5, according to Amazon. Sometimes the purchasers were offered the opportunity to write the reviews themselves.
After posing as potential customers on Fiverr, Amazon found products were being pushed up the bestseller lists by fake reviewers who left five-star reviews, the Daily Mail reported. The sellers attempted to avoid detection by using different accounts from unique IP addresses. Whether the fake reviewers were writing about books, electronics, or restaurants, those posting could end up in court.
Amazon also stressed they are not suing Fiverr itself, but rather the individuals who are writing the reviews through the website. The defendants are referred to as “John Does,” as their real names have not yet been obtained.
In their lawsuit, Amazon says they are determined to stop the fake reviewers at their source.
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate.”
Amazon filed the lawsuit in Seattle, Washington on Friday. BBC News reports that back in April, Amazon sued four websites who were allegedly selling fake reviews. The websites included buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net, and buyreviewsnow.com.
In an interview with the Seattle Times, Mark Collins, who operated the Buy Amazon Reviews website, refuted the accusations, claiming his website provides “unbiased and honest” opinions about products, not “fake” reviews.
Collins wrote in an email, “We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products. And this is not illegal at all.”
In their complaint, Amazon says though the number of fake reviewers is small, they’re destroying the online retail company’s reputation by being “false, misleading and inauthentic.”
“A very small minority of sellers and manufacturers attempts [sic] to gain unfair competitive advantages by creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews for their products on Amazon.com. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufactures place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”
The Telegraph reports more and more consumers read reviews found online for various products. TripAdvisor, the online review site, said over the last six months they’ve closed nearly 30 businesses who posted fake reviews to the site. More fake reviewers will be targeted by using legal action in the future, the company said.
According to court papers, Amazon wants the fake reviewers’ identities to be revealed and wants them to pay damages for the “manipulation and deception” of its customers. Fiverr says they’re working with Amazon to resolve the issue and have previously taken down fake review sellers, but Amazon says that isn’t enough because “the root cause of the issue or serve as a sufficient deterrent” is not addressed.
The question now is, how many of those reviews read by customers were written by “fake” reviewers? How many of them were designed to give a glowing reputation for the product’s company and knock down the competition?
Amazon seems to be attempting to answer those questions in this step toward purging its website of fake reviews. Have you read reviews on Amazon that you felt were false or misleading?
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