A recent inquiry into no less than 10 websites found “packages” of fake Amazon reviews being sold ‘in bulk’ for an average of seven dollars per review. The investigation was conducted by “Which?“, a British association that encourages customers to be informed when purchasing goods or services by testing products and calling attention to inferior products or services.
The identified websites were selling favorable reviews for certain goods that were posted on Amazon Marketplace, a practice that violates the company’s terms and conditions. One of such websites that have been reviewed by “Which?” even gave tips on how to better write the fake reviews so they wouldn’t be tagged as suspicious by Amazon.
Some of these tips included leaving longer reviews
– more than two lines
– and adding photos.
And what’s even more surprising are the prices. The price of a fake review can go for as much as $£15, with the “bulk” packages starting at £620 for as many as 50 reviews and £8,000 for 1.000. In dollars, that would be around $11.000 – Just for reference.
So if you want to hit it big on Amazon, build some trust with your target customer and have some goodwill from the start, $11.000 is not that much.
“We remove fake reviews and take action against anyone involved in abuse,” an Amazon spokesman said in connection to the increasingly common problem.
“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,” she stated.
The frequency of such occurrences has also prompted Hitchins to urge the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to increase its efforts of better protecting customers by looking into the sale of fake reviews as well as strengthening its endeavors of stopping the momentum of such sites.
“The regulator must crackdown 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.”
This is to be expected, especially considering the soaring demand for online shopping that the coronavirus pandemic has triggered. A previous investigation by the same consumer group has found dozens of similar Facebook groups where sellers were offering refunds in exchange for glowing, albeit fake reviews. This has ultimately led to the signing of formal agreements between companies such as Facebook or eBay and the CMA to “better identify, investigate and respond to fake and misleading reviews”.