Amazon sues 1,114 users for offering fake product reviews

PHOTO: AFP

Amazon takes the authenticity of the reviews posted on its site very seriously. The company filed suit against the operators of websites built around the hawking of fake reviews in April, and it's now taking things a step further by going after individuals themselves.

Many sites offering fake Amazon reviews have since been shut down as a result of the April action, but Fiverr.com, the online marketplace at the centre of Amazon's latest move, has so far avoided being named directly in the lawsuit. This is because Amazon only goes after sites that actively foster an environment for fraudulent reviews - Fiverr does not condone fake reviews and hosts plenty of legitimate freelance gigs as well.

The defendants are listed as "John Does" and they each used Fiverr to sell fake positive or 5-star Amazon reviews. They also offered "verified" reviews (if they are compensated accordingly), which are only available to users who have actually bought the product in question.

Only a few individuals are addressed directly in the suit, but an attached "Exhibit A" includes a list of 1,114 Fiverr users. They are mentioned by their Fiverr usernames only, so it looks like Amazon does not yet have their complete personal information. However, the lawsuit would be the first step in getting that information from Fiverr.

Amazon brought the suit in the hopes of targeting the root cause of fraudulent reviews - the notion that it is an easy and risk-free way to make a quick buck. By targeting users themselves, Amazon is signalling that even individuals will be held accountable. Ideally, the suit will also serve as a deterrent and encourage individuals to seek out different kinds of freelance jobs.

While Amazon has not requested a fixed amount of compensation, it has ominously indicated that there could be monetary damages for the offending Fiverr users as it has asked the court to make the defendants pay the court costs, attorney's fees, and other fees grouped under "additional and further relief".

Source: TechCrunch via Engadget


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