Amazon has filed four lawsuits against online fake review companies in an attempt to hold them to account for illicit behaviour that deceives consumers.
The global tech company has challenged Reddit Marketing Pro, Mangocity, Littlesmm and Nice Discount with legal action this week. Amazon claims these ‘fake review brokers’ are trying to “mislead Amazon customers and harm Amazon selling partners” by flogging packages of false reviews.
Amazon says people can purchase these packages, ranging anywhere from $50 (£40) to $6,999 (£5,536), through websites, video chats, social media and email.
In return, Amazon argues the brokers leave a pre-specified number of positive reviews on the customer’s product page or negative reviews for a competitor’s product.
Amazon vice president of selling partner risk, David Montague, said the legal action sends “a clear message that there’s no place for abuse in our store and we will hold fraudsters accountable”.
“Amazon welcomes authentic reviews – whether positive or negative – but strictly prohibits fake reviews that intentionally mislead customers”, he added.
The e-commerce giant uses “proactive” fraud-detection technology to catch fake reviews and last year, they said they blocked over 200m suspected fake reviews.
Commenting on the so-called fake review brokers, Chris Downie, chief executive of anti-fraud platform Pasabi, said they “play a central role in poisoning consumer decision making, destroying businesses and inflicting untold damage on the wider economy”.
He called on the UK to also tackle its “growing fake review epidemic” which affects £4bn of consumer spending annually.
“Review aggregators and business owners need to work together to identify and block fraudulent reviews, stamping out the problem before it gets any worse,” Downie added, suggesting this could be done using AI and anti-fraud technology.
Reddit Marketing Pro, Mangocity, Littlesmm and Nice Discount did not respond to City A.M.‘s request for comment.
The four lawsuits have been filed in King County Superior Court, Seattle. Amazon is seeking a court order and treble damages plus attorneys’ fees.