Amazon continued its war against fake product reviews on Friday, filing a lawsuit against more than 1,000 people it says offered to write fake reviews of products listed on Amazon’s e-commerce platform for $5 each through online marketplace Fiverr.com.
Today’s lawsuit follows similar cases Amazon brought in April against businesses that offered these kinds of fake review services. Now, the e-commerce giant is going after individuals, arguing that they’re diminishing trust in Amazon’s review platform and breaking the law.
According to court records, Amazon went so far during its investigation as to hire several of the people now listed in the suit to actually write fake reviews.
Fiverr is an online marketplace that lets people sell simple services to strangers, like transcribing audio, converting photos or editing video. Amazon simply had to contact Fiverr users who advertised their review-writing services and set up the transaction.
The company said most people offered the undercover Amazon investigators 5-star reviews for $5 each.
One Fiverr.com user that went by bess98 offered to write the reviews from multiple computers, so as to deceive Amazon. Another user, Verifiedboss, unwittingly told the investigators, “You know the your [sic] product better than me. So please provide your product review, it will be better.”
As in the previous lawsuit, Amazon alleges that these reviewers often arranged to have empty boxes shipped to them in order to make it look like they had purchased the products.
Amazon is not suing Fiverr. The company noted in the court filing that these kinds of services are banned by Fiverr’s terms and conditions and Fiverr has tried to cut down on the practice.
“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” Amazon wrote in the court filing. “Although Amazon has successfully requested removal of similar listings from Fiverr in the past, the removal of individual listings does not address the root cause of the issue or serve as a sufficient deterrent to the bad actors engaged in creating and purchasing fraudulent product reviews.”