Amazon has filed lawsuits against fake review brokers who orchestrate the posting of incentivized and misleading product reviews in exchange for money or free products, the company announced.
The lawsuits target two major fake review brokers, AppSally and Rebatest, organizations that have helped mislead shoppers by having their members try to post fake reviews in online stores including Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Etsy, Amazon stated.
The legal action is one part of what Amazon characterizes as its comprehensive and proactive efforts to ensure a safe and trustworthy shopping experience for customers and opportunities to create thriving businesses.
Amazon prohibits incentivized or fake reviews on its site and uses machine learning technology and trained investigators to detect, prevent and remove them, the company maintained. It added that, in 2020, it stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from appearing on its site before they were ever seen by a customer.
Amazon’s legal action comes after an in-depth investigation into the two fake review brokers, which taken together claim to have more than 900,000 members willing to write fake reviews. To avoid detection by digital markets, Amazon indicated, AppSally sells fake reviews for as low as $20 and instructs bad actors to ship empty boxes to people willing to write phony reviews and to provide AppSally with photos that it can upload alongside their reviews. The scheme run by Rebatest will only pay people writing 5-star reviews after their fake reviews are approved by the bad actors attempting to sell the items involved, Amazon noted.
“Fake review brokers attempt to profit by deceiving unknowing consumers and creating an unfair competitive advantage that harms our selling partners,” said Dharmesh Mehta, vp of WW Customer Trust & Partner Support, Amazon, in announcing the legal action. “We know how valuable trustworthy reviews are to our customers. That is why we are holding these review fraudsters accountable. While we prevent millions of suspicious reviews from ever appearing in our store, these lawsuits target the source.”