In an expanding effort, Amazon has intensified legal efforts to shut down fake review brokers, filing its first criminal complaint in Italy and its first lawsuit in Spain in addition to 10 new suits recently launched in the United States.
The U.S. lawsuits focus on fake review brokers and other bad actors attempting to game Amazon’s rating systems. The company also sent warning letters to five websites based in Germany that were directing visitors to a fake review broker. Operators of all five websites have since agreed to stop this activity by signing a cease and desist letter, Amazon stated.
Amazon’s first criminal complaint in Europe cites a high-profile broker in Italy who has been selling fake reviews. Amazon asserted that its decision to seek criminal proceedings in the case signals its determination to stop bad actors who profit by misleading customers and selling partners. Parties convicted of this type of crime in Italy can be imprisoned and fined, the company pointed out. In Spain, Amazon filed its first civil complaint against the fake review broker Agencia Reviews, which communicates via the instant messaging service Telegram to evade detection. According to Amazon’s investigations, the suspected fraudster fully reimburses collaborators who purchase on amazon.es once they publish a fake 5-star review.
Amazon has devoted significant resources to investigating and filing legal actions against fake review brokers to stop them from orchestrating phony reviews in its store, the company noted. A global team of expert investigators, lawyers, analysts and other specialists track fake review brokers, piece together evidence on how they operate and take legal action. As such, they can uncover the perpetrators and stop fraud where it starts. However, continued collaboration and investment across the industry is critical to stopping fake reviews for good, Amazon maintained, and the company has continued to seek assistance and support from other industry players as well as government agencies, regulatory bodies and law enforcement to improve detection and increase enforcement action against fake review brokers.
“Holding bad actors accountable through litigation and criminal referrals is one of many important ways that we protect customers so they can shop with confidence,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vp of selling partner services. “In addition to continuing to advance our robust detection and prevention of fake reviews in our store, Amazon will remain relentless in identifying and enforcing against bad actors that attempt to engage in review abuse. There is no place for fake reviews on Amazon or anywhere else in the industry.”