Amazon is expanding its crackdown on sellers of fake product reviews. According to a lawsuit filed last Friday in Washington, the online retailer is targeting 1,114 anonymous users of the freelance jobs site Fiverr who were offering up Amazon reviews in exchange for cash. Fiverr, which is not listed as a defendant in the case, lets people offer services that typically cost around $5, indicating that Amazon does not appear to care how small or insignificant the fake reviews operation may be.
"Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products," reads Amazon's complaint. "One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers ... place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon's brand."
Amazon says false reviews tarnish its brand
The company is seeking a cease and desist order for all 1,114 Fiverr users and requesting the identity of the sellers and those who bought the fake reviews. If the defendants are found guilty, they'll also be on the hook for triple the standard fees as well as Amazon's legal expenses.
Amazon first went after fake review sellers in April when it filed a lawsuit against several well-known fake review websites that were much larger in scale than independent review sellers. At the time, the company claimed these operations were guilty of trademark infringement, false advertising, and breaking several consumer protection laws. Many have since shut down, although buyamazonreviews.com — perhaps the best known of the bunch — is still operating today under the notion that it offers authentic reviews.
Amazon points out in its complaint, however, that users of Fiverr often encourage buyers of these reviews to submit their own desired text the seller can post on their behalf. Amazon did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.