For the first time, Amazon is taking legal action against fake review sites. Though sites of this nature have been around for quite a while, this is the first time they will be facing a lawsuit. Amazon filed the suit in a Washington based state court against the sites BuyAzonReviews.com, BuyAmazonREviews.com, BayReviews.net, and BuyReviewsNow.com. Though the reviews themselves are small in number, they do betray the trust that Amazon shoppers put in their reviewers. Reviews which Amazon values highly. Reviews have been a foundation for Amazon’s business practices for nearly 20 years, and the rating star system has been in place to provide consumers with honest and accurate reviews. Though the company has invested millions with automation software designed to monitor and control authenticity of reviews on the site, faulty reviews do still slip through the cracks.
The concept of selling fake product and service reviews is not a new one. Earlier this year, Yelp sued several sites that engage in similar practices: BuyYelpReview.com and BuyOnlineReviews.net. The sites compare themselves to those that increase SEO marketing by using keywords to increase page rankings. Additionally, they insist that the reviews are completely honest and real, which is not an illegal practice. While these sites insist they are not participating in any illegal activities, thorough investigations have proved that they are indeed selling manufactured reviews. Undercover Yelp legal representatives approached AdBlaze to “buy” Yelp reviews, and after purchasing were given a bill. Practices like these greatly tarnish the reputation of sites like Yelp and Amazon, who build their services around customer reviews.
Just how much money Amazon is seeking in the lawsuit is unclear, but the point is not the money. Amazon has finally become fed up with fake review sites, and is now making an effort to show other false review sellers that it does not go unnoticed. Currently, the other three sites offer reviews between $80-600, depending on the number of reviews. In the suit, Amazon is claiming violation of trademarks, misusing the site’s logo, fair competition laws, and anti-cybersquatting laws. Cease and desist order have been given to the three sites, and Amazon is requesting information on how reviews are created and who is paid to create them in addition to financial damages.