Amazon has filed charges against 1,114 people who were paid to write positive reviews. The online retailer states that the "false, misleading and inauthentic" reviews damage its image.
5 dollars for every fake review
The focal point of the complaint is a website filled with freelancers that charge barely 5 dollars to write a glowing review of a product or service. It is also possible to pay these freelancers to write negative reviews about the competitor and then post those reviews on Amazon. "There may not be many, but these reviews could undermine the faith customers and sellers have in Amazon. That tarnishes our brand", Amazon said.
The fake reviewers employ very nifty tactics: some use up to 60 pseudonyms and have several IP addresses (basically your computer's "license plate") to cheat Amazon's control mechanisms.
Used fake reviewers as well
Amazon also used a cunning plan: it hired the "authors" and ordered them to write 5-star reviews and then it contacted the freelancers' online platform, which in turn promised to cooperate fully to get rid of this malpractice.
Whether the writers will actually get punished remains to be seen: almost all authors used a fake name and it is not even clear whether a fake review is actually illegal or whether it constitutes "freedom of speech", which is sacred in the United States. Amazon demands the 1,114 users pay damages and the court fees.
It is not the first time Amazon has taken up arms against fake reviews: it had already started court cases against sites like "buyamazonreviews", which also offered such reviews. According to the British paper The Guardian, such sites have almost all disappeared.