Packages move along a conveyor at an Amazon fulfillment center on Cyber Monday in Robbinsville, New Jersey, U.S., Monday, November 29, 2021.
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Amazon on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against two companies that allegedly acted as fake review brokers.
The lawsuits filed in King County Superior Court in Seattle accuse AppSally and Rebatest of promoting fake reviews on Amazon’s online marketplace. Companies reportedly connect third-party sellers with consumers who leave positive reviews of their product, in exchange for free products or payments.
The case represents Amazon’s latest effort to weed out fake reviews in its sprawling third-party marketplace. The marketplace now accounts for more than half of e-commerce sales and has helped the company generate record revenue. But fake reviews have proven to be a particularly thorny issue for Amazon, as the marketplace has grown to include millions of third-party merchants.
Amazon said in a statement that the lawsuit seeks to “shut down two leading fake review brokers” which it says “helped mislead shoppers by having their members try to post fake reviews in stores.” like Amazon, eBay, Walmart and Etsy. The statement adds that AppSally and Rebatest say they have more than 900,000 users “willing to write fake reviews.”
Rebatest declined to comment. AppSally representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
AppSally and Rebatest have been in business since 2018, according to court documents. The complaint alleges that AppSally orchestrated a scheme in which sellers would pay the company a fee, in some cases as little as $25, to receive “verified reviews.”
After providing AppSally with a link to their product, sellers would ship empty boxes and provide AppSally with photos to include in a user’s review, depending on the suit. Sellers allegedly pay for the service in hopes that it will boost their product in Amazon’s search results. AppSally’s website allegedly promised sellers they would be able to “outrank your competition from your bedroom,” according to the complaint.
Similarly, Rebatest offered sellers a review cache and other services to manipulate the ranking of their products, according to the lawsuit. Users would place an order for a product on Amazon and leave a review. Rebatest allegedly refunded a user’s purchase through services like PayPal.
Amazon is seeking unspecified damages in both complaints, as well as an injunction against the companies to enjoin them from selling or facilitating the sale of Amazon Reviews.
Amazon takes many steps to try to reduce fake reviews and other fraud, including investing in machine learning tools and human moderators. Other social media companies have also been asked to step in and help, as fake review communities have popped up in Facebook groups and messaging apps like Telegram, WhatsApp and WeChat.
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