First Alibaba, now Amazon. It seems that for eCommerce leaders, monitoring fraudulent behavior is just one of the tasks that comes with the territory.
In the first of its kind for Amazon, the company has filed a lawsuit against California resident Jay Gentile, who has been accused of operating the website buyazonreviews.com, which produces fake reviews to boost merchants’ products. Other similar sites such as buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com are being targeted as part of the suit.
“While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” the lawsuit says, according to Geek Wire. “Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews.”
The lawsuit claims that the defendants violated trademark laws, created unfair competition on the site and mislead buyers by creating the false reviews. The reviews from Gentile were allegedly “verified reviews” where the sellers would actually ship empty boxes to the reviewers to make it harder for Amazon to realize the purchase was fraudulent.
“Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews,” the suit says. “Defendants’ businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews. …[They] are misleading Amazon’s customers and tarnishing Amazon’s brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers. Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and disrupting the marketplace in which they participate.”
Alibaba has repeatedly faced this same issue and said it’s taken strict measures to combat fraudulent sellers on its marketplaces, but there’s another force in China’s eCommerce market that’s making it harder to regulate: brushing.
This process that’s been uncovered in China’s marketplaces involves a merchant or seller hiring people to make purchases through its sites in order to increase sales and give the merchant a better spot on the marketplaces, also known as “padding” its sales. Brushing works by the vendor finding “brushers” to buy products with its money, and the vendor then sends them fake packages. The so-called “brushers” are then expected to write positive reviews that in turn help that vendor get a higher rank in the marketplaces’ search results.