Amazon on Monday filed legal action against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups that attempt to orchestrate fake reviews on Amazon in exchange for money or free products, according to the company. These groups are set up to recruit individuals willing to post incentivized and misleading reviews on Amazon’s stores in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan. The e-commerce giant said it will use information discovered in the legal action to identify bad actors and remove fake reviews commissioned by these fraudsters that haven’t already been detected by Amazon’s technology, expert investigators, and continuous monitoring.
“Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they’re ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of Selling Partner Services in a press release. “Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.”
The fraudsters behind such groups solicit fake reviews for hundreds of products available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods, according to the firm. One of the groups identified in the lawsuit is “Amazon Product Review,” which had more than 43,000 members until Meta took down the group earlier this year. Amazon’s investigations revealed that the group’s administrators attempted to hide their activity and evade Facebook’s detection, in part by obfuscating letters from problematic phrases.
Amazon strictly prohibits fake reviews and has more than 12,000 employees around the world dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews. A dedicated team investigates fake review schemes on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, and regularly reports the abusive groups to those companies. Since 2020, Amazon has reported more than 10,000 fake review groups to Meta. Of these, Meta has taken down more than half of the groups for policy violations and continues to investigate others.
Amazon introduced product reviews in 1995 to help customers make more informed shopping decisions. The company said that it aims to ensure every review that appears in its stores is trustworthy and reflects an actual customer experience. Amazon’s expert investigators use industry-leading tools to detect and block fake reviews. As a result, it has proactively stopped more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in 2020 alone, according to the firm.
Today’s legal action is the latest step by the company aimed at stopping fraudsters who attempt to post fake reviews in Amazon’s stores. In the past year, legal action has shut down multiple major review brokers targeting customers in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain.
According to Amazon, the nefarious business of brokering fake reviews remains an industry-wide problem, and civil litigation is only one step. Permanently ridding fake reviews across retail, travel, and other sectors will require greater public-private partnership, including collaboration between the affected companies, social media sites, and law enforcement, all focused on a goal of greater consumer protection, the company said.