In a move that should allow consumers more credible options when spending their money, Amazon is going after individuals who peddle fake reviews to sellers of products and services on the largest e-commerce website.
Earlier this year, Amazon sued four websites selling reviews to sellers. On Friday, Amazon took it a step further and filed a new lawsuit against the people selling their services as reviewers via the site Fiverr. That means that the suit has 1,114 unnamed defendants, unless lawyers can determine the true identities of the fake-review writers.
Fiverr is a website that sells goods and services for $5 (the name, a derivative of “fiver,” is based on the $5 amount). Those services include designing a logo, editing a resume, creating a fan web page or transcribing audio. One very popular service is Amazon reviews.
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” Amazon wrote in the court filing. “Although Amazon has successfully requested removal of similar listings from Fiverr in the past, the removal of individual listings does not address the root cause of the issue or serve as a sufficient deterrent to the bad actors engaged in creating and purchasing fraudulent product reviews.”
To confirm that the fake-review services offered were legit, Amazon dispatched investigators to buy reviews. They found more than 1,000 people on Fiverr offering to create fake Amazon reviews. Most promised positive or five-star reviews.
Some fake-review writers offered to have the seller write their own review, which the person would then post on Amazon.
“You know your product better than me. So please provide your product review, it will be better,” one poster quoted in the suit wrote.
Some of the reviewers ask for a promo code so they could get the product for free. That’s because Amazon verifies that the poster actually purchased the item In order for the review to be “verified.”
Amazon also alleges that third-party sellers ship empty boxes to paid reviewers, pretending that the item in question was inside.
The lawsuit is not against Fiverr but against individuals providing fake reviews, said Amazon spokeswoman Julie Law.