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Amazon Fake Reviews Drama Unfolds

Amazon customers are at risk of being misled by a plague of fake reviews sold by dodgy third-party sites, an investigation has found.

The report by UK consumer advocacy site Which? unearthed a raft of sites like AMZTigers which sell fake reviews by the thousand for as little as £5 ($8.97 AUD) each, as well as sites like AMZDiscover, which allows sellers to download reviewers’ contact details to contact them unsolicited.

AMZTigers claims to be able to get a product the “Amazon’s Choice” endorsement in less than two weeks, by using its legions of buyers to drive up sales on certain search terms, such as Bluetooth headphones. The site purports to have 62,000 paid reviewers worldwide.

Other unscrupulous Amazon Marketplace sellers have been caught out incentivising positive reviews with discounted or free products; all of these tactics are against the retailer’s terms of service.

According to Natalie Hitchins, Head of Home Products and Services at Which?, action needs to be taken by both companies like Amazon and government regulators to stem the tide of fake reviews.

“Our latest research shows that Amazon is facing an uphill struggle against a relentless and widespread fake reviews industry geared towards misleading consumers.

“Amazon, and other online platforms, must do more to proactively prevent fake reviews infiltrating their sites so that consumers can trust the integrity of their reviews,” she said.

In a statement, an Amazon spokesperson said the company removes fake reviews and takes action against shonky sellers, having won dozens of injunctions against fake review providers across Europe, but can’t win the war on fake reviews alone.

“Customers need to be able to trust the reviews they see online and the systematic manipulation of reviews needs consistent enforcement and global coordination with stronger enforcement powers given to regulators against bad actors.

“We continue to work to protect the authenticity of customer reviews. We advise customers who doubt the credibility of a review on a product to click the ‘report abuse’ link available below each review. We will then investigate and take necessary measures,” the spokesperson said.

The Which? investigation found a whopping 702,000 fake reviewers across just five of the review mills it looked into.

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