These groups recruited individuals who were willing to post misleading reviews on Amazon’s stores (Photo: Getty Images)
The groups offered money or free goods in exchange for reviews posted on Amazon.
The administrators recruited individuals to post misleading reviews on Amazon stores in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.
Once the people in the group bought selected products and left their reviews, the admins would refund them. It involved a wide variety of goods, including car radios and camera tripods.
One of the groups called “Amazon Product Review” with 43,000 members was removed earlier this year by Facebook’s parent company Meta.
Amazon’s investigation found that the group’s administrators managed to evade Facebook by hiding letters of problematic phrases (Photo: Unsplash)
Large numbers of reviews, especially positive ones, increase the visibility of sellers on Amazon’s platforms and increase them in search engine results.
Amazon sellers can legitimately pay for services that promise to increase their ratings online, without necessarily knowing that it will be done in the form of fake reviews.
Amazon’s investigation found that the group’s administrators managed to evade Facebook by hiding letters of problematic phrases.
They used disguised key phrases that would otherwise have been flagged by Meta’s automated tools designed to detect rule violations. For example, a Facebook post saying ‘R*fnd Aftr R*vew’ (refund after review) went undetected.
About half of the groups were removed by Meta after they were reported by Amazon. However, Amazon told the BBC that the administrators of all of them were targeted.
Amazon has more than 12,000 employees dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews.
“A dedicated team investigates fake reviews on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, and regularly reports the abusive groups to those companies,” Amazon said.
Amazon is taking legal action against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups for generating fake reviews (Photo: Unsplash)
“Proactive legal action against adversaries is one of the many ways we protect customers by holding adversaries accountable,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon vice president of affiliate services sales.
“Groups that request or encourage fake reviews are violating our policies and will be removed. We are working with Amazon on this matter and will continue to work together across the industry to tackle spam and fake reviews,” Meta said in a statement.
In February, consumer group Which? claimed that false reviews for Amazon Marketplace sold ‘in bulk’ for just £5 each.
A UK consumer organization is tackling fake reviews to prevent the public from being ripped off with proposed legislation against it. If implemented, it could become illegal to pay someone to write or host a fake review.
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