Amazon is expanding its efforts to shut down fake review brokers with a new round of legal actions.
On Thursday, the internet giant said it had filed its first criminal complaint in Europe, which targets a high-profile broker in Italy selling fake reviews. According to Amazon, the defendant claims to have built a network of individuals who are willing to buy products on Amazon and post 5-star reviews in exchange for a full refund.
The retailer said in a statement that its decision to seek criminal proceedings in this case “signals the company’s determination to stop bad actors who profit by misleading customers and selling partners.” Individuals convicted of this type of crime in Italy may be subject to imprisonment and fines, Amazon added.
In Spain, the retailer also filed its first civil complaint in the country against alleged fake review broker Agencia Reviews. The Spanish-based operator “targets” sellers and customers of http://www.amazon.es and communicates via the instant messaging service Telegram to evade detection, Amazon said. According to the retailer’s investigations, the suspected fraudster fully reimburses customers once they publish a fake 5-star review.
“Holding bad actors accountable through litigation and criminal referrals is one of many important ways that we protect customers so they can shop with confidence,” Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s VP of selling partner services, said in a statement. “In addition to continuing to advance our robust detection and prevention of fake reviews in our store, Amazon will remain relentless in identifying and enforcing against bad actors that attempt to engage in review abuse. There is no place for fake reviews on Amazon or anywhere else in the industry.”
In addition to these new lawsuits in Europe, Amazon said that it has added to its growing cases in the U.S. by filing 10 more lawsuits against fake review brokers and other bad actors attempting to game Amazon’s ratings systems. Amazon also sent warning letters to five websites based in Germany that were allegedly directing visitors to a fake review broker. All five websites have since agreed to stop this activity by signing a cease and desist letter, Amazon said.
“Amazon will continue to devote significant resources to fighting fake reviews and ensuring customers have a trustworthy shopping experience,” added Mehta. “We continue to improve our proactive controls, invent new technologies and machine learning to detect bad actors, and find new ways to hold them accountable.”
This new round of legal action is the latest in Amazon’s “quest” to take down fake reviews from its site. In July, the retailer filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court in Seattle accusing administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups of “attempting to orchestrate fake reviews on Amazon in exchange for money or free products.”
According to Amazon, these groups are set up to “recruit” individuals willing to post incentivized and misleading reviews on Amazon’s stores in the U.S., the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan.
In an emailed statement to FN at the time, a Meta spokesperson said: “Groups that solicit or encourage fake reviews violate our policies and are removed. We are working with Amazon on this matter and will continue to partner across the industry to address spam and fake reviews.”