Amazon sues admins of over 11,000 Facebook groups for allegedly trading fake online reviews

By Brian Fung, CNN

Amazon said Tuesday it has sued the administrators of more than 11,000 Facebook groups allegedly responsible for facilitating the buying and selling of fake Amazon Marketplace reviews in seven countries.

The group’s operators are accused of recruiting people to write false or misleading product reviews in exchange for money or free items, Amazon said in a statement.

Fake reviews have been a headache for Amazon for years and can lead consumers to buy substandard or questionable products. But the problem got much worse during the pandemic, when e-commerce demand soared and unscrupulous marketers found new opportunities to use fake reviews to boost their business. This trend has prompted UK regulators to launch an investigation into whether Amazon and Google have harmed consumers by failing to sufficiently protect them from fake reviews. Amazon and Google said last year they would cooperate with the investigation.

On Tuesday, Amazon said its lawsuit would allow it to “identify bad actors and remove fake reviews commissioned by these scammers” that the company’s human and automated systems were unable to detect on their own. same.

Tuesday’s lawsuit targets activity that allegedly led to fake reviews appearing on Amazon’s platform in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The fake reviews covered a range of products for sale on Amazon, from car stereos to camera tripods, Amazon said.

In its lawsuit, Amazon said it was taking legal action “to find out the identities of their administrators, shut down these groups, and seek restitution of their ill-gotten gains by trading fake reviews.” The suit asks a Washington state court for a cease and desist order against the alleged bogus review brokers, as well as damages and attorneys’ fees to be awarded to Amazon.

Amazon said Meta, Facebook’s parent company, removed more than 5,000 fake review groups from the social network since 2020 following Amazon’s reports to the social media giant.

A Facebook Meta group removed earlier this year was called “Amazon Product Review” and had more than 43,000 members, Amazon said, adding that fake review campaigns operate on many mainstream social media platforms.

“Groups that solicit or encourage false reviews violate our policies and are removed,” Meta spokesperson Dani Lever said in a statement provided to CNN Business. “We are working with Amazon on this issue and will continue to partner with the wider industry to fight spam and fake reviews.”

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