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Online shoppers are being deceived by massive fake review problem
By our News Team | 2023
Amazon alone blocked 200-million reviews last year that it believed to be placed by fraudsters pretending to be satisfied customers.
The world’s e-commerce users continue to be deceived by a massive fake review problem that online retailing giant Amazon describes as a “cottage industry of fraudsters”.
This is according to a report published in the London-based The Guardian newspaper, which says that Amazon alone blocked 200-million reviews last year that it believed to be fake.
It quotes Dharmesh Mehta, head of Amazon’s customer trust team, as saying this avalanche of misinformation was harming consumers, who were being “deceived about what products they should or shouldn’t be buying”.
Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay
“Several years ago, we saw the rise of what we call fake review brokers,” Mehta told The Guardian. He likened it to a cottage industry of fraudsters who often had hundreds of employees.
“They go to sellers and on the nefarious side say: ‘I can get you fake reviews’ – but many offer it as a marketing service and end up duping a small business [which doesn’t] know what is going on behind the scenes.
“Then they go to a bunch of consumers and say: ‘Hey, if you leave a five-star review for this product, I’ll give it to you for free or a gift card.’ So, they’re effectively buying a customer’s review on one side, and on the other hand, selling a marketing or review service to a brand or manufacturer.”
Legal action against 10,000 Facebook group administrators
According to the report, last year Amazon took legal action against more than 90 brokers who facilitated fake reviews, and sued more than 10,000 Facebook group administrators who attempted to get reviews on the platform in exchange for money or free products.
Amazon is not the only e-commerce company impacted. Virtually any consumer buying goods and services online – from Tripadvisor to eBay or Jumia – can find themselves compromised by fake reviews of products and services.
According to a report published in Time magazine in July 2022, the pandemic forced a less-experienced cohort of online shoppers to do more of their purchasing on the internet. These shoppers came to lean on reviews more heavily than more street-wise shoppers.
“Many consumers had to learn what indicators they should use to make it easier to buy online, rather than going to a shop,” Adrian Palmer, head of Henley Business School’s department of marketing and reputation at the University of Reading in the UK, told Time.
“Instead of picking up a product, touching it, feeling it, smelling it, they were confined to a two-dimensional screen and had to use all the tools they could to make a decision. Reviews were one of those.”
Fake reviews corrupt the market by restricting access to “free, fair and proper information,” said Palmer. “If you’ve got a market where information that you think is coming from a buyer is actually coming from a seller, the market doesn’t work.”
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