Amazon is suing alleged paid review broker in fight against fake five-star reviews

Amazon is suing a Hong Kong-based company accused of connecting third-party retailers to customers willing to write positive reviews for discounts, the company said on Friday, part of its effort to crack down on fraud targeting the giant e-tailer plagues.

In two separate lawsuits, Amazon is asking the courts to shut down the company’s operation, called Extreme Rebate, the company said. She is also asking the courts to require the company to release information about Amazon merchants who used the service to pay for reviews.

The company said it has filed the lawsuits in a Washington state court and in Germany. In a draft of the US lawsuit viewed by CNET, Amazon alleges that Extreme Rebate violated Washington state consumer protection laws, interfered with Amazon’s contracts with third-party suppliers, and made money off of it.

“The brokers target customers through their own websites, asking them to write misleading or inflated reviews in exchange for money, free products or other incentives,” the company said in a press release. Extreme Rebate allows for payments of $2.50 per five-star review in addition to a rebate or full refund, the e-commerce giant said in its lawsuit.

Paid reviews remain an ongoing problem for Amazon, despite banning the practice eight years ago. The ratings can encourage more customers to buy the products and improve a seller’s products in Amazon’s sales rankings. As a result, Amazon is more likely to promote the products as bestsellers, increasing the likelihood that customers will see the offers and make a purchase.

The company says it is using machine learning technology and thousands of employees to crack down on the practice. However, it is difficult to remove them due to coordinated activity on external websites and social media groups.

Extreme Rebate did not immediately respond to requests for comments sent to email addresses associated with the company, also known as Merchant Global Limited. The company’s website describes “3 steps to get free items” and displays a banner that reads “Up to 100% off” next to the Amazon logo.

The lawsuit follows similar actions Amazon took against AppSally, Rebatest, Matronex and Fivestar Marketing.

In 2021, Amazon removed listings for brands that sold household items like sonic toothbrushes and hair straighteners and made their products available for paid reviews in a private Facebook group. The company too removed entries for electronics manufacturers Aukey and Mpow came to light after a paid rating system. Amazon is suing alleged paid review broker in fight against fake five-star reviews

Chris Barrese

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