Amazon deleted some 20 000 fraudulent reviews from a number of reviewers following an investigation that unearthed suspicious activity among Amazon reviewers.
Last week the the Financial Times discovered at least seven of Amazon’s top 10 reviewers in the UK had been engaged in “suspicious activity,” or, more accurately, had been dishing out five-star reviews in return for free products from companies. No hashtag ad here, mind, because taking payment for reviews on Amazon’s platform is strictly prohibited.
Namely, the FT found Amazon’s number one ranked reviewer, Justin Fryer, had been profiting from giving companies five-star reviews and selling on the freebies on eBay. He denies this claim, stating that the products he sells on eBay are all duplicates – though his reviews directly correspond to his listings, which he only seems to review the outside of (as well as packaging) and he deleted his entire review history after being contacted by the paper.
Fryer was found to have left a five-star review every four hours during the month of August, mostly of comments from seemingly random, small Chinese companies. (He says, as his wife is Chinese, he knows “a lot of the businesses over there” and has relationships with many of the sellers). It also appears that the FT wasn’t the first to notice Mr. Fryer’s suspicious behavior. One user complained about his activity in early August in a direct email to Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos. A number of Fryer’s reviews were subsequently deleted, but he was able to continue adding new reviews.
The FT’s analysis also found that six more of Amazon UK’s top ten reviewers had also been engaging in suspicious activity. A number of them seem to have been involved in Facebook groups where sellers offer to compensate reviewers for good reviews.
Fake reviews have been an issue on the platform for years. Over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic, though, the problem has gotten worse. Online review analysis group, Fakespot estimated that fraudulent reviews rocketed in May this year, when 58% of Amazon.co.uk products were “accompanied by fake reviews.”
Amazon uses AI to spot fake reviews and bad actors, it also has a strict policy on fake reviews. Despite this, this platform seems to be dealing with a much bigger problem with them than others with some sellers even conducting bushing scams to boost their legitimacy.
Speaking to The Verge, an Amazon spokesperson said:
“We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant.
“We have clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies.”