Amazon Suing 1,114 “Fake Reviewers” For Hire
Amazon is taking legal action against more than 1,000 people for allegedly posting fake reviews on its website. The lawsuit, filed in a state court in Seattle, cites 1,114 defendants for “tarnishing Amazon’s brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers”.
They all advertised their services through website Fiverr.com, promising positive or five-star reviews for a seller’s products. The defendants – named as “John Does” in the lawsuit and referred to only by their usernames – offer to write “fraudulent” reviews for as little as $5 (€4.40).
Amazon states that it takes the “credibility of its customer reviews very seriously” and said “an unhealthy ecosystem has developed outside of Amazon to supply reviews in exchange for payment”. The online retailer said it conducted an “extensive investigation” of the defendants’ action on Fiverr, and purchased reviews from them.
One defendant – named in the legal papers as “bess98” – promised “I will do, Amazon, Reviews, Amazon, Reviews, for $5” and post an “awesome review on your Amazon product”. An investigator posing as a retailer contacted the seller, and was told “you have to provide me the review text”.
Another Fiverr seller – named as “Rerina” – offers to provide up to nine five-star Amazon reviews for $5 each. When approached by an investigator, the client is told: “You know the your product better than me. So please provide your product review, it will be better.”
Amazon said that many other defendants, offer to place a “verified review” – showing the reviewer has purchased the item – so long as they do not actually have to buy it themselves. Some asking for voucher codes so they can order the product without paying for it. Others say they are willing to receive an empty envelope or parcel simply to create a shipping record in an attempt to deceive Amazon.
Fiverr – an online marketplace used by freelancers to offer services like writing, translation and graphic design for a minimum of $5 per job, from which it gets its name – has removed listings in the past at Amazon’s request. Amazon said the lawsuit is not targeted at Fiverr, which is not a defendant in the complaint. But it said Fiverr’s take-down process does not address the “root cause of the problem” and is not a “sufficient deterrent” to stop other sellers offering fake reviews.
The latest legal action comes after Amazon sued a number of websites in April for selling fake reviews.