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Are you supplementing your legal practice by selling Amazon reviews for $5 each? It might be time to find a new side gig, before you get sued.
The online retailer filed a complaint in Seattle court last Friday, suing 1,114 John Does for breach of contract and unfair trade practices. The Does are accused of selling fake Amazon reviews for $5 and up on the website Fiverr.
The Problem With Online Reviews
Amazon's suit is an attempt to protect the integrity of its online customer review system. In April, the company sued a California "entrepreneur" who launched several websites selling Amazon reviews. It has also taken action against sellers who use fake reviews, according to its court complaint. The new lawsuit, going after anonymous reviewers who make almost nothing for false reviews, represents a new front in its attempt to fight fake reviews.
Controlling customer reviews has proven to be difficult for websites like Amazon and Yelp. While the companies seek to make sure that reviews are accurate and from actual customers, Internet users have taken to writing mock reviews for fun and profit. Take, for example, radioactive uranium ore, which is 33 percent off on Amazon. The product has been reviewed over 1,000 times. The most helpful review, according to almost 25,000 people, isn't exactly the most accurate: "I purchased this product 4.47 Billion Years ago and when I opened it today, it was half empty."
Lawyer Up, Bess98 and Verifiedboss
Of course, paid reviews are a greater risk to Amazon than funny ones. According to the complaint, a "very small minority of sellers" purchase fake reviews in order to "gain a competitive advantage for their products." Those fake reviews "significantly undermine the trust that consumers" have in Amazon.
The website Fiverr is full of people willing to complete small tasks, or "gigs," for five bucks. You can buy a five dollar corporate logo, a five dollar Christmas party invitation, and a lot of five dollar Amazon reviews. Amazon's complaint calls out two of the 1,114 fake reviewers by "name." Bess98, the complaint shows, says "I will do, Amazon, Reviews, Amazon, Reviews, for $5." (Proper punctuation is extra?) All you have to do is supply her with the review text! Yep, that's $5 for someone to copy and paste your own review. Similarly, Verifiedboss sells reviews with "100 different Account are available to post."
Those reviews, according to Amazon, are a violation of the site's terms of service and Washington state consumer protection laws. Of course, they could always use Fiverr for their defense. You can apparently get $5 legal services there as well.