CHARLOTTE, NC - If you shop on Amazon, you probably rely on the reviews.
But people around the world post glowing ones that are bogus in exchange for kickbacks. Some sellers offer reviewers discounts, freebies, or even cold hard cash for posting positive reviews.
"There's all kinds of shenanigans that are happening behind the scenes," PR consultant David Gerzof Richard said.
"I pride myself on being honest," Mikel Frank, an artist and college art instructor in the Charlotte area, said. "I'll do a review, a legitimate review, and whatever happens, happens."
Frank said his review is "not for sale."
But there are people on Craigslist and Fiverr offering 5-star reviews for $5-15. Action 9 also found hundreds of Amazon review clubs on Facebook. One post reads, "One review, and it's yours for free." Another says, "Need 5 star review for lingerie. Paypal refund after shipment."
This is how some look like "verified" purchasers on Amazon. They buy the item, get the "verified" label, and then get their money back. And you never know.
It's frustrating for honest sellers. "Those reviews to us, those Amazon reviews are our lifeblood," said seller Pierce Schiller. "People look at those reviews and they recognize them as the voice of the community."
"It's disappointing. It's silly. It just seems senseless to me," shopper Cathy Bennett said. "Reviews are there for a reason, whether you're trying to take a vacation, whether you're trying to eat at a restaurant, whether you're trying to make a purchase on a new product. It's helpful if reviews are just honest and, if they're not, it's just going to backfire eventually."
Amazon sued more than 1,000 reviewers for posting fake reviews, banned sellers for abusing the system, and limited how many reviews customers can do. The company said bogus reviews make up a "tiny percentage," but that "even one is unacceptable."
AMAZON'S FULL STATEMENT:
Amazon is investing heavily to detect and prevent inauthentic reviews. These reviews make up a tiny percentage of all reviews on Amazon but even one is unacceptable. In addition to advance detection, we've filed lawsuits against more than 1000 defendants for reviews abuse and will continue to pursue legal action against the root cause of reviews abuse as well as the number of individuals and organizations who supply fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation. Customer reviews are one of the most valuable tools we offer for making informed purchase decisions and we work hard to make sure they are doing their job.
Action 9 found two websites that analyze reviews: FAKESPOT https://www.fakespot.com and REVIEW META https://reviewmeta.com. Just copy the URL from Amazon and paste it on their pages. They grade how reliable the reviews are. Some say these sites have flaws, but that they're better than nothing.
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