Amazon sues administrators of over 10,000 Facebook groups

Amazon sues over 10,000 global administrators facebook groups for allegedly paying people to post fake product reviews.

The retail giant is suing in Washington King County, near its Seattle headquarters, against the owners of the “nefarious” Facebook groups.

Members are reportedly urged to post positive reviews for Amazon stores in the US, UK, Germany, France, ItalySpain and Japan in exchange for money or free gifts.

Amazon told MailOnline that Facebook groups are run by “brokers” who provide their services to third-party sellers on Amazon.

Using their Facebook groups, brokers organize rave reviews for third-party sellers’ products, which makes sellers more visible on the Amazon website and search engines and in turn increases their sales.

One of the groups named in the lawsuit is Amazon Product Review, which had over 43,000 members until Meta closed the group earlier this year.

AMAZON DEALS WITH FAKE REVIEWS SCAMMERS

Amazon has third-party sellers – independent sellers that offer a variety of new, used, and refurbished items.

Some of these third-party sellers work with “brokers” who run nefarious Facebook groups that encourage people to post fake product reviews on Amazon.

Amazon said it’s not clear if third-party sellers are to blame. Some may know that the fact that they work with banned brokers is not true. In some cases, brokers have been able to convince third-party sellers that their activities are legitimate.

Amazon pioneered product reviews, introducing them in 1995 to help shoppers make “more informed purchasing decisions”.

Amazon said it wants every review that appears in its stores to be “credible and reflect real customer experiences.”

“Our teams are stopping millions of suspicious reviews before customers even see them, and this lawsuit takes one more step towards identifying criminals operating on social media,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of selling affiliate services.

“Preemptive litigation against bad actors is one of the many ways we protect clients by holding bad actors accountable.”

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has stressed that it is working to detect and remove groups that promote fake user reviews.

“Groups that solicit or encourage false reviews are in violation of our policies and will be removed,” a Meta spokesperson said.

“We are working with Amazon on this issue and will continue to work with the entire industry to combat spam and fake reviews.”

The scammers behind such groups are said to extort fake reviews of hundreds of items available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods.

One of the groups named in the lawsuit is Amazon Product Review, which had over 43,000 members until Meta closed the group earlier this year.

An Amazon investigation revealed that the group’s admins tried to hide their activity and bypass Facebook’s auto-discovery tools.

An example would be to give users the “R*fnd Aftr R*vew” (return after validation) option, using asterisks to hide the administrator’s intent.

The scammers behind these groups request fake reviews of hundreds of items available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods.

The scammers behind these groups request fake reviews of hundreds of items available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods.

Consumer Champion Which one? already exposed the issue of fake Facebook review groups after recent investigation.

Which the? employees were able to find the abusive groups “relatively easily” by searching for keywords on Facebook such as “five-star Amazon review” and “free AMZ”.

“Sometimes we have come across a message warning us that this term is associated with fraudulent activity.” What? stated in his conclusions.

“But we just continued our search, raising questions about how effective such warning messages are.”

Which the? said group owners are often based in China, India, and Pakistan and post photos of products they say they need reviews for.

Amazon has said it strictly prohibits fake reviews and has more than 12,000 employees around the world dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews.

These positive reviews make sellers more visible on the Amazon website, which can increase their sales.

These positive reviews make sellers more visible on the Amazon website, which can increase their sales.

A dedicated team investigates fake review schemes on social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and regularly reports abusive groups to these companies.

Amazon has reported over 10,000 fake review groups to Meta since 2020, and of these, Meta has removed more than half of the groups for policy violations and continues to investigate others.

Last year, a lawsuit from Amazon resulted in the closure of several large review brokers targeting clients in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain.

“However, the nefarious business of spreading fake reviews remains an industry-wide problem, and civil litigation is only one step,” Amazon said in a statement.

“Permanently cracking down on fake reviews in retail, tourism and other sectors will require closer public-private partnerships, including collaboration between affected companies, social media sites and law enforcement, all aimed at strengthening consumer protection.

“Amazon remains committed to continuing to partner with all relevant stakeholders to achieve this common goal.”

UK GOVERNMENT TO MAKE PUBLICATION OF FAKE REVIEWS ILLEGAL

The UK government is currently considering new rules that would make it illegal to write or post fake reviews online.

The rules announced in April mean people are not being scammed with “fake ratings” and are protecting consumers’ hard-earned money.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) can impose fines of up to 10% of global annual turnover for businesses or up to £300,000 for an individual.

“New measures requiring changes to the law, such as combating fake reviews, will come into effect from a start date following parliamentary approval,” the government said in a statement.

The government has also announced clearer rules for businesses to make it easier for consumers to unsubscribe so they don’t have to pay for something they no longer need.