Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups who try to orchestrate fake reviews in exchange for money or free products.
The groups are set up to recruit individuals to post incentivized and misleading reviews on Amazon’s online stores in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.
The reviews are designed to artificially boost product ratings and thereby increase the likelihood of them being purchased by customers.
One of the groups identified in the lawsuit is “Amazon Product Review,” which had more than 43,000 members until Facebook owner Meta brought the group down earlier this year.
The fraudsters behind such groups solicit fake reviews for hundreds of products for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods.
Amazon strictly prohibits fake reviews and has more than 12,000 employees worldwide who are committed to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews.
A dedicated team investigates fake rating schemes on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, and regularly reports the abusive groups to those companies.
Amazon’s investigation found that those running the programs try to hide their activities and evade Facebook’s detection, in part by obscuring letters through problematic phrases.
Amazon has said it will use information discovered during its legal action to identify malicious parties and remove fake reviews at the behest of the fraudsters.
The reviews that will be removed are those that have not yet been detected by Amazon’s advanced technology, expert researchers and continuous monitoring.
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“Our teams are stopping millions of suspicious reviews before they’ve ever been seen by customers, and this lawsuit is taking it a step further to track down culprits on social media,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president for selling partner services.
“Proactive legal action against adversaries is one of many ways we protect customers by holding adversaries accountable.”
As of 2020, Amazon has reported over 10,000 fake review groups to Meta. Of these, Meta has shut down more than half of the groups for policy violations and continues to investigate other.
Amazon introduced ratings in 1995 to help customers make more informed shopping decisions.