Amazon is suing administrators of more than 10,000 global Facebook groups for allegedly paying people to post fake product reviews.
The retail giant has begun legal action at Washington King County, near its Seattle headquarters, against owners of the ‘nefarious’ Facebook groups.
Members are reportedly persuaded to post positive reviews on Amazon stores in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan, in exchange for money or free gifts.Amazon told MailOnline that the Facebook groups are run by ‘brokers’ who are providing their services to third-party sellers on Amazon.
Using their Facebook groups, the brokers are orchestrating glowing reviews for the third-party sellers’ products, which makes the sellers appear more prominently on Amazon’s website and search engines, and in turn boosts their sales.Amazon hosts third-party sellers – independent sellers who offer a variety of new, used and refurbished items.
Some of these third-partly sellers are working with ‘brokers’ who are running nefarious Facebook groups encouraging people to post fake reviews for products on Amazon.
Amazon said it’s unclear whether the third-party sellers are culpable. Some may be aware that the fact they are working with prohibited brokers is wrong. In some cases, the brokers may have persuaded the third-party sellers that their activity is legitimate. Amazon was a pioneer of product reviews, having introduced them in 1995 to help customers make ‘more informed shopping decisions’.
Amazon said it wants to ensure every review that appears in its stores is ‘trustworthy and reflects an actual customer experience’. ‘Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they’re ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media,’ said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of selling partner services. ‘Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.’
Meta, the company previously known as Facebook, stressed that it’s working to detect and remove groups that promote fake user reviews. ‘Groups that solicit or encourage fake reviews violate our policies and are removed,’ a Meta spokesperson said. ‘We are working with Amazon on this matter and will continue to partner across the industry to address spam and fake reviews.’ The fraudsters behind such groups are said to solicit fake reviews for hundreds of products available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods.
One of the groups identified in the lawsuit is ‘Amazon Product Review’, which had more than 43,000 members until Meta took down the group earlier this year.Amazon’s investigations revealed that the group’s administrators attempted to hide their activity and evade Facebook’s automated detection tools.An example is giving users the option ‘R*fnd Aftr R*vew’ (refund after review), using asterisks to obscure the admin’s intentions.