Amazon Goes To Court In Bid To Shut Down Fake Reviews — Targets Fiverr Users

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Amazon is getting more aggressive about fake reviews at its online store. In April, the company successfully sued four web sites for selling bogus positive comments. Most of those have shut down, and now it’s going after individuals.

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The target this time is Fiverr.com, where members can be found offering glowing product reviews for as little as five dollars. There are 1114 “John Doe” defendants in the latest legal action, just filed in Seattle, Washington. At this point, Amazon knows only their user names but is seeking to stop their posting of “false, misleading and inauthentic” information.

“Most of the defendants offer positive or 5-star reviews for Amazon sellers’ products. Indeed, many encourage the Amazon seller to create the text for their own reviews,” the complaint reads.
“While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand,” according to the company.

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Amazon’s terms of use ban fake reviews, and its legal action is basedupon breach of contract and violation of Washington’s consumer protection laws.

The online retail giant conducted an “extensive” investigation that involved buying fake 5-star reviews on Fiverr.com and seeing the sellers try to avoid detection by using multiple accounts and masked IP addresses.

The scale of this latest case highlights the widespread and ongoing problems with keeping fake reviews out of the marketplace, especially on sites such as Fiverr where they’re often not clearly identifiable. Eventually, those sellers may have to look for another online home, but in the meantime it’s likely to be “business as usual” until the legal case is settled.

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Fiverr is neither a defendant in nor a target of the lawsuit. Their released statement says that “we actively remove services that violate our terms of use. The challenge of merchants soliciting illegitimate reviews is one that faces all marketplaces and online platforms. In fact, in our own marketplace we restrict reviews to only those who we can verify have actually purchased a service.”

Amazon’s chances for a successful outcome from this latest action are good, as Fiverr has been willing to cooperate in similar situations in the past.