Amazon sues websites selling 5-star product reviews

By Scorpus · 18 replies
Apr 10, 2015
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  1. amazon website lawsuit sue fake reviews

    Amazon is sick of having to deal with fake user reviews on its product pages, so they're taking the fight to the offenders by filing a lawsuit against them in the King County Supreme Court.

    The lawsuit in question is against Jay Gentile, a man who Amazon claims is the owner of several websites that sell 5-star reviews. These fake reviews cost companies between $19 and $22 per review, depending on how many reviews are being purchased, and come with "100% stick guarantee" and "drip-feed delivery".

    One of the websites that Gentile allegedly owns is, which claims to sell "high quality unbiased reviews" written and posted "by an actual person who has tried your product". The website also claims they are "not receiving any money for your reviews nor are we paying reviewers", with any payments going to "review sourcing, database management, and operation costs."

    Amazon says the situation is actually very different, with encouraging the companies who buy reviews to send "empty packages in an effort to fool Amazon into believing the reviewer was a 'verified purchaser.'" In doing this, the website is undermining the trust that customers place in Amazon and its user-written product reviews.

    During the process of collecting evidence against the website, Amazon purchased a number of reviews which were delivered as glowing five-star reports (as well as one four-star review for the sake of realism) without the reviewer ever receiving the product.

    Amazon is suing Gentile, as well as the 'John Doe' owners of,, and, which the company believes are all related. Amazon claims these websites infringe on their trademarks, are falsely advertising, and are cybersquatting.

    Permalink to story.

  2. cmbjive

    cmbjive TS Booster Posts: 777   +138

    I don't know. This looks like it will be an uphill fight for Amazon. If this was a case where one site was driving up reviews for a product to get five stars I can see how that is being manipulative, but if it is just one reviewer that does a five star review it will be very hard for them to determine exactly how a five-star review hurts their website's reputation.

    On a different but related note, I wonder why doesn't go after one star reviews with this much intensity. Several authors, movies, and games have received one star reviews for no reason other than a person's politics or other animus by the reviewer.I would consider those to be "cybersquatting" and "false advertising" before I consider a glowing review that was paid for to be that.
  3. Capaill

    Capaill TS Evangelist Posts: 452   +180

    I have checked Amazon reviews for many years before buying products as I respected other user's opinions. But lately I've found it more irritating and less useful. Often reviewers didn't pay for the product but got it in some scheme where they probably have to rate the products highly if they want to get more freebies. I also find a lot of cases where the reviews are not for the exact model I'm looking for (eg. they are all for a nexus 7 whereas I thought I was reading reviews of the nexus 10) and that is not so easy to spot. And then there are the fake reviews which Amazon is fighting here. Though I agree the 1-star reviews are just as malicious.

    I guess Amazon need to fight this because if you buy a product from them expecting it to be awesome and it's a crock of manure, then you'll stop buying from Amazon as you won't trust them any more.
    SantistaUSA and davislane1 like this.
  4. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    In court it is easier to demonstrate the harm done by paid 5-star reviews. When it comes to deliberately negative reviews, the equation is different.
  5. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,101

    If anything its a great move for their image.
    dms96960 likes this.
  6. Suing douchebags is always cool.
  7. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,664   +1,949

    And what's even cooler is to just shoot them, no due process.
  8. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Grand Inquisitor Posts: 4,737   +3,757

    But that would cause an interminable douchebag feedback loop:

    Gunman shoots douchebag w/o due process -> gunman becomes douchebag -> must be shot w/o due process by gunman to illustrate the folly -> gunman becomes douchebag -> [...]

    The consequences would be cataclysmic.
    andrewyoung likes this.
  9. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,664   +1,949

    Or just douchebag justice. They say, a killer whose only victim is himself is an innocent man :)
  10. Amazon sues a company (and therefore the person liable), but not individuals who wrote false reviews whether or not they were positive.
  11. agb81

    agb81 TS Booster Posts: 78   +38

    A five star comment with several dozen of "I found it useful" goes to top.

    On the other hand, I tend to find 1 star reviews annoying because most of the times is just capslock ranting with no base whatsoever.
    davislane1 likes this.
  12. SirGCal

    SirGCal TS Maniac Posts: 365   +136

    It's not 100%, but when I do search reviews on Amazon, I use only verified purchasers. So they had to buy the item before they could review it. That's a minimum but still not a guarantee.
  13. bexwhitt

    bexwhitt TS Guru Posts: 355   +72

    America with it's overly broad interpretation of free speech (corporations are people) will toss this.
  14. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,725   +3,699

    This is why I cherry pick the reviews. You can easily tell who is promoting, who is ranting, and how much weight to give each side. That is after you read all of the reviews and cherry pick the ones you know you can trust.
  15. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,073   +219

    Just require people to buy the product from your site to give a review.
  16. I saw some fake reviews a few years ago on amazon and they were done to promote the seller. They were basically all similar, with minimal details on various products from a certain seller with about 5 peoples names all doing the promoting.
    All were verified purchases but so obviously fake due to the similarity of the words used and the same reviewers names that kept cropping up. I was going to report them but found it wasn't that easy to do at the time. Not sure about how it is now.
  17. Skewed Input

    Skewed Input TS Rookie Posts: 31   +9

    The negative side affects are on the side of real-reviewed items. If a company pays (As per the website) $22 per review, times 200 reviews, it will flood out most of their bad reviews AND take away sales from competitors who might otherwise have received the business.

    Same thing with Yelp, Google, eBay, only takes a handful of good and/or bad reviews to make a BIG impact on sales.
  18. This is just the tip of the iceburg! What about all the people posting fake reviews so that they can get invited to become an Amazon Vine member so they can get free products to review like Samsung TV's, etc!

    Or the person that has only one review to his name for one product and he is out badgering people who leave negative reviews for that one product. How in the world do you get over several thousand likes to your name for just reviewing one product? Really!

    Or one person that is up high in the rankings has 100 people that follow him, and probably give him likes on the reviews he posts!

    Yes we need to get rid of the websites with paid reviews that will eliminate a part of the problem but we also need to get rid of financial incentive to get free products for posting reviews! Are you listening Amazon?
  19. I have been using and doing reviews on Amazon for a long time, Just recently I joined a facebook group where I can get a product at a discounted price for my Honest review, I can't speak for others who also do this, but I can honestly say, My style of reviewing has not changed in the least, even for the stuff I get for free through Smiley360 or Bzzagent, If I like it I say so,and state why, If I don't like it I say so and say why. I use the product just as if I bought it straight out , and I give an honest review. As I am doing my reviews the fact I got it discounted or free is not even part of my review until the end when I must state I got it free or at a discount price for my honest review as per Amazons guidelines.

    But I am sure there are people out there saying great things about products just so they can get more free stuff and I agree that is totally wrong and should not be allowed. And it will be those types of people who ruin it for those of us like myself, who still keep our reviews honest, no matter how we got the product.

    I will continue to do my honest reviews on products rather it is items I bought full price, got for a discounted price, or for free. I will never give a 5 star review on something that I truly and honestly don't think it deserves.

    One of my reviews was for a security system that I paid for in full, I gave it a 5 star even though I was/am having technical difficulties, I had a user ask me why I gave it 5 stars IF I was having so many issues with it. Simple answer and I am not sure why they couldn't figure it out through my review - is - Just because I was having technical issues due to my Cable provider , that was not due to the item or the seller, The item over all worked great, and still deserved 5 stars , My cable provider on the other hand deserves no stars! and I was writing the review on the product and how it worked, NOT how my cable provider loves to block things and won't let me get motion pics emailed to me . so yes that product still deserved a 5 star review in my opinion
    cliffordcooley likes this.

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