Amazon is taking a legal step to fight fake product reviews.
The online retail giant has filed a lawsuit against a California man named Jay Gentile, whom the company identifies as the operator of a handful of sites including buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com.
According to GeekWire, Amazon says those sites are part of an "unhealthy ecosystem" which has sprung up with the purpose of "supplying inauthentic reviews".
From the lawsuit:
While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand. Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews.
Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews. Defendants’ businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews.
There appears to be a discrepancy on just who operates the aforementioned sites, however. The Seattle Times says that a guy named Mark Collins owns buyamazonreviews.com. He had this to say in a statement to the Times:
“We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products. And this is not illegal at all.”
Here's how that website describes its services:
Are you tired of your products not being seen, tired of competitors leaving bad reviews? The solution is simple. Buy Amazon reviews. You can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week. Our skilled writers look at your product, look at your competitor’s products and then write state of the art reviews that will be sure to generate sales for you.
"All of our accounts have buying history and review posting history. Rarely will we use a new account to post your reviews," says the site.
Amazon's lawsuit alleges that these fake review sites allow sellers to simply ship them empty boxes, in order to fool Amazon into thinking the product has been purchased. Reviews reportedly go for around $20, give or take a few dollars.
This is the first time Amazon has ever filed suit against these so-called "fake review" sites and their operators.
Image via Stephen Woods, Flickr Creative Commons