Thousands of five-star ratings appear to have been left in exchange for money or free products by Amazon’s top reviewers in the UK. Following an inquiry by the Financial Times, the business removed 20,000 product reviews.
According to the FT’s data, Justin Fryer, the UK’s top Amazon reviewer, left a five-star rating once every four hours on average in August. Many of the reviews were for products made by unnamed Chinese businesses. Fryer appears to have then resold the items on eBay.
This kind of scam usually begins on social media platforms and messaging apps like Telegram, where businesses may meet potential reviewers. After making the connection, the reviewer selects a free product and waits a few days before writing a five-star rating. They receive a complete refund and, in some cases, an additional payment when the review is published.
Amazon prohibits people from writing reviews in exchange for “any type of compensation (including free or discounted products) or on behalf of anybody else.” However, nine of the top ten reviewers in the United Kingdom appear to have broken this rule by engaging in suspicious behavior. Seven of the top ten reviewers contributed to the 20,000 reviews that were removed.
Fryer’s activities were discovered by the corporation in early August. At least one Amazon user complained to CEO Jeff Bezos about the man’s suspicious ratings. This user was told that the firm will look into it, but it didn’t until today.
According to the New York Times, Fryer argues that he was not paid to post bogus five-star reviews and that his eBay listings for “unused” and “unopened” products were extras.
Regardless, his behavior isn’t all that surprising. For years, Amazon has had a problem with fake reviews. The Markup discovered in July that sellers were using a range of strategies to manipulate their ratings on the platform, including “review hijacking,” in which existing evaluations were added to new, often unrelated products.
As more individuals shop online during the coronavirus outbreak, the problem has simply become worse. According to Fakespot, a company that investigates rating fraud, 58 percent of products on Amazon in the UK appeared to have bogus reviews in May. The Financial Times quoted Fakespot CEO Saoud Khalifah as saying, “The scope of this fraud is extraordinary.” “Amazon UK has a significantly greater rate of bogus reviews than the other platforms.”
An Amazon spokeswoman told The Verge that the corporation evaluates reviews before they go public, processing 10 million submissions per week. They stated, “We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence, knowing that the reviews they read are genuine and relevant.” “We have explicit standards that prohibit abuse of our community features for both reviewers and selling partners, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies.”