Amazon.com Inc.

09/14/2023 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/14/2023 09:16

Amazon’s latest actions against fake review brokers: 2 fraudsters found guilty of facilitating fake reviews in Amazon’s store

Amazon invests significant resources to proactively stop fake reviews before being seen by a customer.

September 13, 2023

Two review brokers sentenced to 2.5 years for facilitating fake reviews in Amazon's store

Two individual fake review brokers were found guilty of illegal business operations intended to deceive Amazon customers and harm Amazon selling partners through the facilitation of fake reviews. These verdicts are the result of local law enforcement's investigation and a criminal referral supported by Amazon.

From March 2021 to March 2022, the China-based defendants used third-party messaging applications to advertise and sell fake reviews to bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts. In exchange for a fee, the defendants left fake positive reviews to boost a bad actor's product ranking, or fake negative reviews to lower the ranking of a competitor's product.

Following the criminal referral, local law enforcement conducted an investigation and confirmed the review brokers' illicit activities in Amazon's U.S. store. The defendants were officially sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison and three years of probation in China, marking Amazon's second criminal judgement of this kind.

The Counterfeit Crimes Unit is a global team dedicated to partnering with law enforcement, brands, and other stakeholders to disrupt counterfeiters and their networks.

"Amazon is pleased to see that these fraudsters are being held accountable for their actions," said David Montague, Amazon's vice president of Selling Partner Risk. "The verdicts are a testament to the partnership of local officials in bringing down those who attempt to deceive our customers and harm our selling partners. We look forward to continuing to partner with law enforcement toward the mutual goal of bringing fake review brokers to justice."

Amazon pioneered online customer reviews 25 years ago, and we are committed to ensuring that our reviews remain a trustworthy, insightful resource for customers. Amazon will continue to protect customers, our selling partners, and our stores from fake reviews by investing in proactive tools to detect and stop fake reviews from appearing in our stores. As a result of continued investments, Amazon proactively blocked more than 200 million suspected fake reviews from our stores in 2022, and as of the end of August, we have taken legal action against 147 fraudsters across China, Europe, and the U.S.

Learn more about Amazon's previous actions:

August 14, 2023

In two new lawsuits, Amazon sues fraudsters attempting to deceive its customers

Amazon continues to go after the source of fake reviews with the filing of two new lawsuits against fake review brokers. Fake reviews are primarily being driven by the emergence of an illicit "fake review broker" industry. These brokers approach customers directly through websites, social media channels, and encrypted messaging services, soliciting them to write fake reviews in exchange for money, free products, or other incentives. These fraudsters knowingly conduct illicit activity in an attempt to deceive Amazon customers and harm Amazon selling partners through the facilitation of fake reviews and other fake content.

Amazon invests significant resources to ensure that every review is trustworthy and reflects customers' actual experiences. A combination of machine-learning models and expert investigators that use sophisticated fraud-detection tools analyze reviews for fraudulent patterns and suspicious activity prior to publication. As a result of continued investments, Amazon proactively blocked over 200 million suspected fake reviews from our stores in 2022.

New lawsuits aim to protect Amazon customers and selling partners from abuse.

These two new lawsuits are also helping ensure the trustworthiness of product reviews:

  • Amazon v. PMNLWeb: Through social media sites, the owners and operators of PMNLWeb solicit prospective reviewers to leave fake 5-star reviews on the product listing pages of bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts. Reviewers are directed to PMNLWeb where they can browse and select a product to purchase. From there, the reviewer is instructed how to search for and purchase the product in Amazon's stores, suggesting specific key words that make the reviewer's purchase appear authentic through an organic search for the product. PMNLWeb fully refunds the reviewer for the product purchase price in exchange for a fake positive review. PMNLWeb targets Amazon's stores globally including in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Europe, Japan, United Arab Emirates, and more. Case No. 23-2-14063-0, pending in King County Superior Court.
  • Amazon v. ProAmazonService: The owners and operators of ProAmazonService sell fake "Amazon Customer Verified" reviews and other fake content to bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts. The defendants allow bad actors to draft their own reviews, offering fake reviews starting from $7.99. In addition to fake reviews, the defendants sell other fake content to boost reviews higher up on a product listing page and also offer services that aim to remove negative reviews from bad actors' product listing pages. ProAmazonService targets Amazon's stores globally including in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the UK Case No. 23-2-14891-6, pending in King County Superior Court.

"Customers rely on product reviews to make informed purchase decisions, and these fraudsters need to be held accountable for intentionally deceiving Amazon customers, harming our selling partners, and abusing our store," said David Montague, Amazon's vice president of Selling Partner Risk. "These latest lawsuits represent our zero-tolerance policy for fake reviews and illicit activity in our stores, and we will continue pursuing fake review brokers in order to maintain a trustworthy shopping experience."

Amazon pioneered online customer reviews 25 years ago and is committed to ensuring our reviews remain a trustworthy, insightful resource for customers. Amazon will continue to protect customers, our selling partners, and our stores from fake reviews by investing in proactive tools to detect and stop fake reviews from appearing in our stores.

Amazon is aggressively fighting fake review brokers. As of the end of July 2023, we have taken legal action against 120 fraudsters across the U.S., China, and Europe. However, fake reviews are a global problem across multiple industries and the public and private sector must work together to stop fake review brokers for good.

Read more about Amazon's blueprint for private and public sector partnership to stop fake reviews.

June 27, 2023

Amazon targets the source of fake reviews with new lawsuits

In June 2023, Amazon filed four new lawsuits against fraudsters attempting to mislead Amazon customers and harm Amazon selling partners by facilitating fake reviews. Fake reviews are primarily being driven by the emergence of an illicit "fake review broker" industry. These brokers approach customers directly through websites, social media channels, and encrypted messaging services, soliciting them to write fake reviews in exchange for money, free products, or other incentives.

Amazon invests significant resources, including machine learning models and expert investigators, to proactively stop fake reviews before being seen by a customer. As a result, Amazon proactively blocked over 200 million suspected fake reviews from our stores in 2022. The lawsuits outlined here are part of an ongoing effort to stop fake reviews at the source by targeting the fraudsters facilitating the reviews and holding them accountable.

  • Amazon v. Nice Discount: The owners and operators of Nice Discount facilitate fake positive reviews, fake feedback, and other fake content through their "Product Tester Club." Reviewers who sign up are incentivized to write fake positive reviews or fake feedback in exchange for product refunds or cash. The defendants connect bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts with reviewers, and instruct reviewers on how and when to leave fake reviews or feedback in order to create a false, authentic appearance. Case No. 23-2-10603-2 SEA
  • Amazon v. Littlesmm: The website Littlesmm sells fake reviews to bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts. The website offers packages of fake reviews in Amazon stores across Australia, Canada, and the U.S., ranging from $20 to $440. The defendants use Amazon customer accounts in their control to leave fake positive reviews. They also offer fake negative reviews to undermine their competitors' product listing pages. Case No. 23-2-10452-8 SEA
  • Amazon v. MangoCity: The owners and operators of MangoCity sell fake reviews ranging from $50 to $4,000 through their website, video chats, and email. After payment, the defendants use Amazon customer accounts in their control to leave fake 5-star reviews on product listing pages. In addition, the defendants offer fake negative reviews that they post on competitors' products. Case No. 23-2-11278-4 SEA
  • Amazon v. Reddit Marketing Pro: The owners and operators of Reddit Marketing Pro offer fake positive and negative reviews and other fraudulent services to bad actors operating Amazon selling accounts. In exchange for fees, ranging from $99 for five fake reviews to $6,999 for 500 fake reviews, defendants use Amazon customer accounts that they control to leave fake reviews on product listing pages in Amazon stores. Defendants also sell fake "Questions and Answers" to manipulate the content on product listing pages. Case No. 23-2-11265-2 SEA

"Our goal is to ensure that every review in Amazon's stores is trustworthy and reflects customers' actual experiences. Amazon welcomes authentic reviews-whether positive or negative -but strictly prohibits fake reviews that intentionally mislead customers," said David Montague, Amazon's vice president of Selling Partner Risk. "We continue to innovate on our proactive technology to detect fake reviews and other indications of unusual behavior. Another way we fight fake reviews is through legal action. Not only are we targeting the source of the problem but we're sending a clear message that there's no place for abuse in our stores and we will hold fraudsters accountable."

Amazon pioneered online customer reviews 25 years ago, and we are committed to ensuring our reviews remain a trustworthy, insightful resource for customers. Amazon will continue to protect our stores from fake reviews by investing in proactive tools to detect and stop fake reviews from appearing in our stores, and we will continue holding fraudsters accountable to protect our customers and selling partners.

Amazon is aggressively fighting fake review brokers. As of the end of May 2023, we have taken legal action against 94 fraudsters across the U.S., China, and Europe. However, fake reviews are a global problem across multiple industries and the public and private sector must work together to stop fake review brokers for good.

Read more about Amazon's blueprint for private and public sector partnership to stop fake reviews.

March 2, 2023
Amazon continues to take action against fake review brokers

In February 2023, Amazon filed lawsuits against six defendants in new legal efforts to protect its customers and selling partners by stopping fake review brokers. In each lawsuit outlined below, the defendants sell fake review services to bad actors attempting to operate Amazon selling accounts. These fraudsters commit fraud by selling fake reviews, intentionally facilitate activities intended to deceive customers, and attempt to provide unfair competitive advantages over honest sellers in Amazon's store.

Read more about the lawsuits.

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