Amazon Lawsuit Targets ‘Fake’ Reviews

By Rory Betteridge | 14 Apr 2015

While ‘fake’ reviews written in-house are a common tactic for online retailers to promote a product, major online marketplace Amazon don’t seem to want it in their house.

Late last week Amazon filed suit against four e-commerce sites that claimed to offer wholesale positive product reviews to online retailers, which the marketplace giant claims affects the site’s credibility with customers.

The suit, filed last Thursday, states that websites, buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bay reviews.com and bayreviewsnow.com, offer glowing reviews for products which the reviewer has not purchased or even used. The sites also encourage clients to create fake shipment records for the purpose of fooling Amazon’s verification software intended to check the legitimacy of a reviewer.

Buyazonreviews.com, for instance, offers “verified and regular” starting from $19 each, depending on the number of reviews requested, adding that “all of our reviewers are actual people that try your product and deliver high quality optimized unbiased reviews.”

“Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews,” Amazon wrote in the suit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Amazon spokespeople and attorneys declined to comment, as did the four targets of the suit.

The market for this sort of service is far from limited to just these websites. Marketplace Fiverr, not named in Amazon’s suit, has a number of entries offering positive or ‘five-star’ reviews for $5 each, but due to the particulars of Fiverr, doesn’t offer bulk services.

Quality reviews of products often have a strong effect on a product’s sales. A Harvard case study from 2011 claims that a one-star increase in a Yelp review can lift a restaurant’s bottom line by anything between 5 and 9 percent.

Amazon has a history of pursuing fake or biased reviewers, either in court or on its own turf. The marketplace routinely polices its now reviews, regularly wiping reviews from sellers’ family members or friends.

“Amazon scours its site for fake reviews, removes them when it finds them, and suspends sellers that post or purchase fake reviews,” the company stated.