Amazon Fake Reviews: What to Know and What to Do

The latest scandal which has gripped Amazon sellers in recent years is the fake reviews pandemic (or ‘scamdemic’ as we like to call it).

But in all seriousness, this recent wave of scam reviews have gripped Amazon sellers to the core. Amazon and product reviews have one thing in common, that they’re trusted sources, right? Well, that is not always the case anymore. Reviews used to be perhaps the number one factor which dictates a buyers decision on whether or not they should go with a purchase or no.

Before a couple of years ago, you weren’t likely to come across totally fake reviews, but that has now changed.

There are unknown brands receiving thousands of ‘unverified’, fake five star reviews for products (unverified means it hasn’t been confirmed by Amazon, so there is no evidence that the user actually bought the product, or even wrote the review itself!)

So today, we are going to go through this problem that Amazon sellers and buyers face. We are going to digest a little more about the problem, and talk about what you can do, and how Amazon themselves are fighting back for you.

The Numbers behind the problem

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Okay, you know what they say: numbers don’t lie. So just to put this problem into perspective, we are going to quickly run through the figures behind this problem. In February of this year, the Cybersecurity staff at SafetyDetectives (an anti-virus organization), revealed that more than 200,000 people were involved in a scam involving free products or fake Amazon reviews.

Just to make things even worse: SafetyDetectives discovered

more than 1.34 million messages between Amazon sellers and their customers who were willing to offer fake reviews in exchange for a free product.

This kind if issue is most common in products such as headphones, phone cases and hairdryers. Normally cheap electronic products from knock-off brands.

But the problem has been going on a lot longer than we think. In 2019, Medium reported that the phenomenon can be seen to the naked eye anyway. They reported that of all the 1.8 million unverified reviews in March 2019, over 99% of them were 5 Star reviews. In contrast, out of all the unverified reviews during 2017-2018, only 75% were 5 star. This flood of fake reviews has gripped the selling platform in late 2017, and since then Amazon has begun to take preventative measures. But before we talk about that, let’s diagnose how these fake reviews work.

How this all happens

So obviously with the global pandemic, people selling online on platforms like Amazon has become much more common. Everything to do with Amazon has grown exponentially, like the sellers, products and reviews – real ones, and unfortunately fake, illegal ones too.

So if you’re wondering how this problem has grown to become so serious in the first place, then your answer is simple: Money. More money for the people who own the product and more money for the people who come along to write the fake reviews, too.

They are more than thousands of Facebook groups that are centered on exchanging fake Amazon reviews. These groups have a surprising amount of members, and a manufacturer may offer anywhere from $5-$25 to write a fake 5 star review for their product. Thanks to this, many people end up taking advantage of this to pollute websites with scam reviews.

But it gets worse.

Some manufacturers will even go as far as to sabotage their competitors with fake negative reviews. But this type normally works a little bit differently.

Instead of paying someone to buy their competitors product and leave a negative review, they will be paid to indicate the negative comments that are already there as ‘helpful’. This means it becomes one of the first products that any consumer will see on the product page.

Amazon are doing their best to shut these down, but since most communication takes place on external platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, it becomes a lot more difficult to put an end to it.

Still yet, there is a way you can help this problem within the Amazon community.

How to detect fake reviews

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So as you will have seen, this issue seems like a real mountain to climb for everyone involved in the Amazon community. But you know how to climb a mountain? One small step at a time. Here’s what you can do to help combat this issue in the community.

So if you want to see if Amazon reviews are fake, there are two steps for you to follow.

One is to identify listings which may have fake reviews, and the other is to take action and report these reviews to Amazon

The first thing to do is analyze the product. While the fake review scheme has become so sophisticated in the last 18 months, it can still be surprisingly easy to spot what reviews are a little bit unusual. The first giveaway is how many buzzwords are used in the title. Of course, Amazon review titles are normally pretty short, so if this one runs down the length of the page, then you might be onto something.

Other signs include the photos of the product. If there’s a low-quality photo with strange lighting this might give away some clues. Especially with some kind of scammy discount or promises made in the photo itself. Additionally, make sure to check out some of the negative reviews, check them and read through them, make sure to double check if they are actually ‘verified’ purchases. The last and most obvious is is to look at the gap in between reviews. If dozens of reviews are left on the same day and there are long gaps in between positive reviews, this could be the biggest giveaway of them all.

But if you’re still not convinced, there are a number of browser extensions (commonly known as ‘Fake reviews checker tool’, that you can download which will tell you the likelihood of a product being a scam. The most common of which is Fakespot. It offers a grade, and reasons why the product may or may not be a scam. Other options such as Reviewmeta can help you too, but only when paired with some investigating done yourself.

So whenever you find a product listing that seems a little bit sketchy, you can check out the Amazon customer service page. You’ll find plenty of options there for what to do in this situation, including options to report listings. You can end them an email describing the problem and they will get back to you with updates on the listing.

Are Amazon doing anything themselves?

Yes, in fact, Amazon are well aware of the serious nature of this issue, and are taking actions to stop it. In late 2019, Amazon rolled out their one tap review system, which allow users to leave reviews without having to write anything at all. This encourages more verified reviews to be seen, which will slowly wane out the issue of fake reviews.

In conclusion, then, fake reviews are a big problem on Amazon. Yes, work is being done to stop it, but we should all play a role in helping out to make it a more secure, fairer and more prosperous online platform to sell on.

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