May 1, 2024 7:00 AM

Lawsuits against fraudsters target the source of fake reviews

One lawsuit resulted in a first-of-its kind judgment for Amazon in a case against a fake review broker.
Amazon continues to take legal action against fake review brokers worldwide. These brokers knowingly conducted illegal activity intended to deceive Amazon customers and harm Amazon selling partners by facilitating fake reviews and other fake content.
Fake reviews are primarily being driven by an illicit “fake review broker” industry. These brokers portray themselves as legitimate businesses and approach customers directly through websites, social media channels, and encrypted messaging services, soliciting them to write fake reviews in exchange for money, free products, or other incentives.
Amazon is aggressively fighting fake reviews, using a combination of machine-learning models along with expert investigators to ensure that every review in our store is authentic and reflects customers’ actual experiences. In addition to our proactive technology, one effective way to shutting down fake review brokers completely is legal action. By taking legal action, Amazon is targeting the source of the problem, preventing fake reviews from ever being seen by a customer. As a result of continued investments, Amazon proactively blocked more than 250 million suspected fake reviews from our store in 2023.
“Customers rely on product reviews to make informed purchase decisions, and these fraudsters need to be held accountable for intentionally deceiving Amazon customers, harming our selling partners, and abusing our store,” said Claire O’Donnell, Amazon’s director of Selling Partner Trust & Store Integrity. “We will continue pursuing fake review brokers in order to maintain a trustworthy shopping experience.”
In March, Amazon obtained a judgment against a fake review broker in Amazon v. Auction Sentinel. Owners and operators of the website sold fake five-star “verified” seller feedback to bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts in order to artificially inflate the bad actors’ ratings in Amazon’s store. Defendants also offered a “Stealth Account Setup Service” that assisted in the creation of fraudulent selling accounts for bad actors who would otherwise be ineligible to create a new selling account in the Amazon store. The court ultimately granted disgorgement damages, requiring defendants to give up any profits made as a result of their illegal conduct. The website domain has since been transferred to Amazon.
Amazon made progress on three additional lawsuits that help ensure the trustworthiness of product reviews:
  • Amazon v. The website sold fake positive product reviews and used Amazon customer accounts in their control to publish fake content, using a second website to specifically target bad actors selling Kindle products.
  • Amazon v. Owners and operators of provided a platform for bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts to offer refunds to prospective reviewers on product purchases in Amazon’s store in exchange for a fake positive review of the bad actors’ products. The defendants targeted bad actors operating in the U.S., Canada, Germany, Italy, and UK.
  • Amazon v. The owners and operators of facilitated fake positive product reviews and fake positive seller feedback by offering product refunds to prospective reviewers. Defendants targeted prospective reviewers in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Arab Emirates, and UK.
Amazon pioneered online product reviews, having introduced them in 1995 to help customers make informed shopping decisions. Amazon has zero tolerance for fake reviews and is committed to ensuring reviews remain a trustworthy, insightful resource for customers. These legal actions represent a continuation of Amazon’s efforts to protect its customers and selling partners, and we will continue holding fraudsters accountable.
Learn more about Amazon’s actions to ensure trustworthy reviews: