Unscrupulous sellers are using a range of tactics to evade detection on Amazon and mislead shoppers with fake reviews, a Which? investigation has revealed.
After analysing thousands of reviews across hundreds of products, evidence emerged of exactly how Amazon sellers have found intricate ways to ‘game’ the system.
Our investigation found:
- Products with hundreds of ‘variations’, being used to create large numbers of positive reviews.
- Old products whose positive reviews were being used to promote new, unrelated products.
- Facebook review groups are ‘back’: tens of thousands populate a Facebook community of incentivised reviewers, posting hundreds of products per hour.
- Amazon customers whose user accounts have been hacked and used to publish thousands of fake reviews.
- Amazon product variation misuse
One seller tactic to boost positive reviews and remain undetected is product variation misuse. Legitimate sellers use variations to group different sizes of the same coat or different colours of the same mug under a single product ID or ASIN – Amazon Standard Identification Number, ultimately making your Amazon shopping a smoother experience.
But scammers have found a loophole, and are using the feature to create dozens, or in some cases hundreds, of spurious product variations, called things like ‘Black1/Black2/Black3’. In one case we found five-star reviews from the same Amazon profile left across one hundred variations of a product. Sellers can do this in order to flood their products with fake reviews through Amazon’s back door.