Fake Amazon reviews ‘being sold in bulk’ online


Fake reviews for products sold on Amazon’s Marketplace are being sold online “in bulk”, according to Which?
The consumer group found 10 websites selling fake reviews from £5 each and incentivising positive reviews in exchange for payment or free products.
It suggested the firm was facing an “uphill struggle” against a “widespread fake reviews industry”.
An Amazon spokesman said: “We remove fake reviews and take action against anyone involved in abuse.”
The retail giant’s Marketplace allows other retailers to sell their goods via the Amazon website.
Which? identified websites offering review services for goods for sale on Amazon Marketplace that violated the firm’s terms and conditions.
These included “packages” of fake reviews available for sellers to buy for about £15 individually, as well as bulk packages starting at £620 for 50 reviews and going up to £8,000 for 1,000.
The group also suggested that five of the businesses it looked at had more than 702,000 “product reviewers” on their books.
Product reviewers are offered small payments ranging from a few pounds up to more than £10, alongside free or discounted products. They can even take part in “loyalty schemes” and earn themselves premium goods, from children’s toys to exercise equipment.
The websites Which? reviewed also offered advice on how to write reviews so as not to arouse Amazon’s suspicion, and in some cases had criteria for reviewers to meet to qualify for rewards, it said. They included leaving reviews that were at least two sentences long, or including photos, for example.
Read more on how to spot fake reviews here
Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?, called on the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to look into the sale of fake reviews urgently.
“The regulator must crack down on bad actors and hold sites to account if they fail to keep their users safe,” she said.
“If it is unable to do so, the government must urgently strengthen online consumer protections.”
A previous investigation by the consumer group found dozens of Facebook groups with sellers offering refunds or commissions in exchange for fake, favourable reviews.
It led to Facebook and eBay signing agreements with the CMA to “better identify, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews”.
But Ms Hitchins said: “Amazon, and other online platforms, must do more to proactively prevent fake reviews infiltrating their sites so that consumers can trust the integrity of their reviews.”
An Amazon spokesman pointed out that it worked with other tech firms to “report bad actors”, but added that online retailers “cannot do this alone”.
He said that customers need to be able to trust the reviews they see online and that more enforcement powers should be given to regulators such as the CMA.
As demand for online shopping grew at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK regulator launched a review into how different websites detect and respond to fake and misleading reviews.
The authority warned last May it would “not hesitate” to take action if sites were disobeying the law.
That could include taking major retailers to court, although it did not name the specific websites it would be investigating.
Amazon and eBay ‘listing unsafe toys for sale’
Amazon: The rise and rise of the internet giant
Biden attacks China and Russia for missing COP26
The US president calls the Chinese leader’s absence from the Glasgow summit a “big mistake”.
Missing girl found alive weeks after vanishing
Citizens urged to defend Ethiopia’s capital
Revealed: The Cryptoqueen’s £13.5m London penthouse
When cheering a cricket win can land you in jail
Border closures threaten Hong Kong’s hub status
Job-seekers turn to TikTok to post ‘CareerTok’ CVs
Bosnian leader stokes fears of Balkan breakup
Behind the scenes at COP26. Video
Who entered rock’s Hall of Fame? Take our timed quiz
The data revolutionary who exposed baseball’s big fix
How Virginia’s governor race explains US politics
Lyrics quiz
Have you been getting these songs wrong?
Feeling hot
What happens to your body in extreme heat?