We all know that fake reviews on sites such as Yelp and Amazon are the bane of both the business and their customers. And some of us knew that you can buy fake reviews for your product on places such as FiveRR (like ‘fiver’ said with a pirate accent). Now Amazon is suing over one thousand Fiverr sellers, all whom have advertised, sold, and posted phony reviews on Amazon, says Amazon.
(For those readers not familiar with Fiverr and their ilk, it is a place where people can offer their services for $5.)
Actual Reviews for Sale on Fiverr
The lawsuit, filed last week, follows on the heels of a lawsuit filed by Amazon in April, against the websites BuyAmazonReviews.com, BuyAzonReviews.com, BuyReviewsNow.com, and BayReviews.net.
In that April lawsuit, Amazon explained that not only were the reviews-for-hire websites confusingly similar to Amazon’s (intentionally, asserts Amazon, even including the Amazon logo), but they were brazen in their marketing, saying things such as “If you are looking for Amazon reviews, you came to the right place. With our reviews you can ensure that you will get a high quality review which is left by an actual person who has tried your product. We take pride in offering some of the best Amazon reviews in the industry and all of our reviewers are actual people that try your product and deliver high quality optimized unbiased reviews.”
Now Amazon is also taking fire at the reviewers themselves, not just the phony review services.
In their October lawsuit, against 1,114 John Does, Amazon claims that “Each of the John Doe defendants in this action utilizes the website Fiverr.com (“Fiverr”) to sell Amazon reviews.”
The use of the name John Doe or Jane Doe in a lawsuit means that the plaintiff knows that the defendant is out there, but does not yet know their real name. In this case, the 1,114 John Does are defendants that Amazon knows to exist, but they have not yet been able to discover their actual names. That information will be uncovered during the discovery phase of the lawsuit, almost certainly based on demands made by Amazon to Fiverr to produce the name behind each Fiverr user offering their reviewing services.
As Eric Anderson, Professor of Marketing at Northwestern wrote in Fortune, “Cracking down on fake reviews will help assure consumers that opinions are those of fellow shoppers and not just hype for hire.”
Of course, this is just the tip of a likely very large iceberg, but it is a start.
In the meantime, you may want to read our article on how to spot fake reviews.
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