Amazon sues more sellers for buying fake reviews

Amazon is continuing its efforts to crack down on fraudulent reviews across its site with new lawsuits aimed at two U.S. sellers, and one from the E.U., which claim to have evidence of customer review abuse. That is, the defendants created fake reviews for their products, which could have influenced customers’ buying decisions. These suits, like those that preceded them, are meant to dissuade sellers from engaging in review abuse as they know that by doing so, they could be subject to legal action.

Since the beginning of last year, Amazon has sued more than 1,000 defendants who offered to post fake reviews on its site in exchange for compensation. It has gone after those who sold their fake review services on the website, the operators of websites who engage in this practice and the sellers who buy the fake reviews. 

These new suits are focused again on the sellers who are buying the fake reviews.

One of the suits claims that 1,269 out of 2,343 reviews (54 percent) across 11 products from the seller Arobo Trade INC/Aumax Direct were abusive. In another example, 300 of 582 (52 percent) of Amazon seller Cyande Group’s reviews from four products were also abusive.

Claims Amazon, “the result of these intentional efforts is the deception of Amazon’s customers and unfair competition with sellers on Amazon’s marketplace.”

Unfortunately for Amazon, review abuse has become so common that the company had no choice but to start these sorts of crackdowns. While once a valuable way to vet a product’s worthiness, many of today’s shoppers don’t trust Amazon’s reviews, given that so many seem to be fake, or at least biased.

Amazon also recently banned incentivized reviews tied to free or discounted products from its site. This practice, which had gone on far too long, allowed sellers to send out products in exchange for reviews. Effectively, it was a way to work around bans on paying for reviews directly, as many who wrote these reviews gained reputations for consistently posting positive ratings and comments, thereby making sure they’d receive more free products.

The end result was roughly the same as if the reviews had been bought and paid for — studies had shown that the average rating for products with incentivized reviews was higher than non-incentivized ones (a 4.74 average rating versus a 4.36 average rating, out of 5 stars).

This practice, combined with the market for fake reviews and the sellers who abused them, has led to consumer distrust in the review system as a whole.

Lawsuits are only one step that Amazon is taking to address this problem, however. The company has also been developing technology that can identify fake reviews and take actions against those who post them, while also making sure that fake reviews don’t surface. As a part of this, Amazon introduced a new ranking system on its site that shows the most recent, most helpful reviews on its site first.

“Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation. As long as this type of abuse exists, we will continue to take enforcement and legal action against sellers participating in fraudulent reviews,” said an Amazon spokesperson, about the new lawsuits.

“The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day,” they added.

Below are the copies of the lawsuits:

Arbitration Demand – Cyande Group by TechCrunch on Scribd

Arbitration Demand – Arobo Trade Inc. by TechCrunch on Scribd