Amazon targets ‘fake review brokers’ with allegations of fraud and deception

Amazon’s lawsuit cites evidence, including this Rebatest video, alleging that the site’s product “test reports” are actually fake reviews.

Amazon is seeking to shut down two sites it says brokered a large number of fraudulent and misleading product reviews by offering money and other incentives, such as free products, to people who wrote them.

The company filed a complaint on Tuesday morning against Discounts Inc. and AppSally in separate complaints in King County Superior Court in Seattle. Combined, the two sites claimed to have more than 900,000 members willing to write fake reviews, in violation of Amazon policies, according to the company.

“Fake review brokers attempt to profit by misleading unwitting consumers and creating an unfair competitive advantage that harms our selling partners,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon Vice President, Worldwide Customer Trust & Partner Support, in a press release. “We know how valuable trusted reviews are to our customers. That’s why we hold these review scammers accountable.

The lawsuits continue a legal campaign that dates back nearly seven years. Amazon filed its first-ever fake review complaint in April 2015.

In the years since, Amazon claims to have won dozens of injunctions against bogus review brokers. For example, the company cited a recent lawsuit against sites in Germany and the UK that were shut down in late 2021.

Amazon says it has more than 10,000 employees working on fraud and abuse issues, including fake reviews. It also uses machine learning to help detect, prevent, and remove fake reviews. The company claims to have blocked more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 before they were seen by customers.

Amazon is also engaging in a public relations campaign by filing and publicizing the lawsuits. The lawsuits claim that the fake reviews “threaten Amazon’s reputation and erode consumer trust.”

Both lawsuits cite, as an example, a Wall Street Journal article from June 2021, “Fake reviews and inflated ratings are still a problem for Amazon.”

Two days after the article was published, the lawsuits state, “Amazon received its first inquiry from Congress, by Senator Roger Wicker, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, regarding the work done by Amazon to ensure the authenticity of reviews and asking if reviews are abusing Amazon’s stores detailed in the Wall Street Journal article are widespread.