Amazon is America’s largest online retailer, and is currently suing more than 1,000 people that have allegedly been paid to post fake reviews on the site.
Amazon was made aware of this problem a number of years ago, and has recently targeted the persons responsible. Finding people that are willing to write fake reviews is not difficult–typing ‘review my product’ into a search engine will bring forth thousands of people willing to inflate a product score that they have never tried, or to help discredit a competitor’s product.
All defendants involved with the lawsuit were found on the website Fiverr.com, a site where people are hired to complete various online tasks such as editing resumes and designing logos, for a minimum of $5 per job. Some people appear to be able to fully support themselves financially performing these tasks; a reviewer whose screen name was bess98 allegedly had more than 30 accounts and offered 24/7 service.
The individuals in question are paid to either write the review themselves, or to post an already written review provided by their employer under their own screen name, in order to create a seemingly authentic assessment of the product. Experts say that consumers can protect themselves from fake reviews by paying close attention to the language being used.
A review that seems too perfect, where the person writing seems overly enthusiastic is a red flag; also, reviews where the specific aspects of a product are used should seem suspect–everyday people don’t generally use technical jargon in their speech.
There are websites available to help consumers identify fraudulent information; reviewskeptic.com was created based on Cornell University research and can be used to identify fake hotel reviews with a 90 percent accuracy. The website evaluates the words and phrases of the review presented to determine the validity.