Amazon is suing five more sites in its ongoing legal campaign against fake product reviews — this time targeting the alleged operators of “Amazon Verified Reviews,” “Buy Amazon Reviews,” “Paid Book Reviews” and other online sites that Amazon sellers can pay to post positive reviews of their products.
“A very small minority of sellers and manufacturers attempt to gain an unfair competitive advantage by creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews for their products on Amazon.com,” the suit says. “While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand.”
The sites, some of which are still online, make no effort to hide what they do.
“We offer Amazon product reviews, as well as Amazon verified reviews and Amazon kindle reviews,” reads the FAQ on Buy Amazon Reviews.” All you need to do is simply buy Amazon reviews from us, and we will post super positive reviews on your products. We will obviously also leave 4 and 5 star ratings on them, depending on your instructions.”
Here’s a video from one of the sites.
This is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by Amazon over fake reviews. Last fall, the company sued a large number of people who allegedly offered to write fake reviews of products for $5 each through online marketplace Fiverr.com. This latest suit is similar to the company’s first lawsuit over fake reviews, a year ago, against a series of sites offering to sell fake reviews.
Amazon declined to comment on the active litigation, but a spokeswoman said in a statement that the company has filed suit against more than 1,000 defendants for “reviews abuse” since the beginning of last year.
“Through these efforts we have obtained data allowing us to take enforcement action against parties not directly involved in the lawsuits, including banning sellers and reviewers,” the spokeswoman said. “To help eliminate the incentives to engage in reviews abuse, we will continue to pursue legal action against the root cause of reviews abuse – the sellers and manufacturers who create the demand for fraudulent reviews – as well as the ecosystem of individuals and organizations who supply fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation.”
She added, “While this is our focus, it is important for customers to know that fake and misleading reviews remain a very small fraction of the overall number of reviews; in fact, we remove these reviews as soon as they are identified and we introduced a review ranking system so that the most recent, helpful reviews appear first. The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day.”
The lawsuit alleges trademark infringement, violation of consumer protection laws, intentional interference with contractual relations, among other claims. It seeks unspecified financial damages and cooperation from the defendants in identifying their customers, the Amazon sellers who allegedly paid for fake reviews.
Here’s a copy of the complaint.