marketplace monitoring

Amazon’s Fake Review Problem

Can Amazon cope with the problem?

The ease of getting fake reviews has started to become a big problem for leading E-Commerce companies. Once companies become big, it seems it is hard to keep up with regulating what happens on their website. Like Facebook, Amazon is struggling to keep up with the content being added to their site every second. One of the main issues for them is the regulation of reviews. Recently, there has been a huge surge in the popularity of fake reviews.

If you have a well-established Amazon profile, it really isn’t difficult to be a fake reviewer. You will either receive offers to your inbox or be able to easily find opportunities on social media.

How do companies find fake reviewers?

To be clear, it isn’t tricky to find people willing to create a fake review. Companies usually look at similar products online, find reviews, and then check out the Amazon profile of the person that left the review. If their Amazon account is quite old and they have previously left a number of reviews, they become very desirable to the company. They will then send this person an E-Mail.

Screenshot of a request for a product review on
Screenshot of a request for a product review on

While investigating this process, we received an E-Mail asking us to provide a product review in exchange for getting the product for free. And it isn’t just companies that are looking to promote their products jumping on the bandwagon. Amazon account owners who want to make a bit of extra cash or get a product for free can easily find opportunities on social media. You only have to type in the hashtag #AmazonReviewer to find opportunities to complete reviews in exchange for cash or a free product.

Screenshot of a request for an reviewer for electronics
Screenshot of a request for an reviewer for electronics

There are several different verticals, fake review agents work across. During our investigation we were asked to review cosmetics, sleep aids and a camera lens. Electricals seem to be one such vertical that struggle with the fake review problem. Fake review agents will look through similar products on Amazon and find out your E-Mail address if you have left a review. 

What is the process for fake reviews?

The process can vary for every company, but the first step is usually them reaching out to a review or vice versa. They will either be offered the free product or the product and cash for completing the review. The ordering process is completed legitimately. Once the order is complete, the reviewer will send across the order number to the company. They then receive the product and post the review.

Most companies reimburse the money after the review has been posted - however it isn’t challenging to find some that will reimburse as soon as the product is ordered. The reimbursement is nearly always done by Paypal. Although Amazon are seeking to tackle fake reviews, Paypal does not seem to be doing anything to investigate this type of payment being made.

The person who wanted us to review a camera lens went cold after we asked her to refund the money after the product was ordered. Which leaves an even bigger problem to be discussed: are companies just telling people they will reimburse them and ripping them off?

Once our fake review agents for both the cosmetics products and the camera lens went cold on us, we didn’t pursue them further. But now that we are in their “system”, it will more than likely not be long before our E-Mail inbox receives another request. People with well –established Amazon accounts often find themselves bombarded with such E-Mails. 

What is Amazon doing about this growing problem?

To quote Amazon, they are using “machine learning and automated systems” to combat their fake review problem but it doesn’t seem to be helping a lot. While Amazon themselves often quote that their fake reviews only amount to 1% of the total reviews on the platform, this is still a huge number when there should actually be none.

With Facebook facing a similar problem, and neither company having the manpower to manually verify every review, it will be interesting to see how they tackle this in 2019.

If you are worried about unauthorized reviews damaging your brand, our marketplace monitoring service may be able to help you.

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