Amazon Prime’s Ongoing Battle Against Fake Reviews

July 18, 2023

E-commerce juggernaut Amazon continues to grapple with an issue that has plagued its platform—false reviews. Whether a false review is fabricated, biased, or does not genuinely reflect the experiences or opinions of customers, false reviews pose a problem for both customers purchasing products and businesses selling their products on the Amazon Marketplace.

Impact on Customers and Sellers

Customers rely on product reviews in making purchasing decisions, and they impact the marketing presence and ranking of the seller and its ability to win the coveted “buy-box.” Therefore, false reviews can undermine the integrity of the review system, mislead consumers, and potentially harm buyers and sellers on the platform.

Amazon’s Lawsuit Against Nice Discount

With this backdrop, Amazon initiated a lawsuit against five John Does allegedly who are allegedly responsible for a popular false review website, Nicediscount.net and requested monetary damages and injunctive relief. Amazon brought claims for violations of Washington State’s Consumer Protection Act, intentional interference with contractual relations, and unjust enrichment.

Filed on June 12, 2023, Amazon alleges that Nice Discount harmed not only the consuming public but also Amazon and Amazon’s valuable business partners—its sellers. As Amazon alleges, Nice Discount operated a “Product Tester Club” which offered monetary compensation in the form of rebates on product purchases in exchange for users leaving false positive reviews, false positive feedback such as with Amazon’s Helpful Votes feature, and other fake content on the Amazon Marketplace.

Circumvention of Verified Purchase Reviews

Most troubling about the Nice Discount scheme is that it circumvents one of Amazon’s false review protections—the “verified purchase review.” On the Amazon Marketplace, purchasers of a product can write a product review, which can become verified by Amazon so long as the reviewer bought or used the item and paid a price available to most shoppers.

Involvement of “Bad Actors”

As stated in Amazon’s complaint against the John Does allegedly responsible for Nice Discount, unidentified “bad actor” Amazon sellers would allow their products to be posted on the Nice Discount website, facilitate the product sale through the website, verify that the positive review was posted on Amazon, and then pay the reviewer a percentage of the product’s purchase price directly through PayPal. If the reviewer authored a negative product or seller review, the “bad actors” would request the purchaser to leave a positive review, and if not followed, refuse payment by claiming an inability to verify the review. Nice Discount and the “bad actors” offered other opportunities for purchasers to receive various levels of compensation through fake product and customer positive ratings, feedback, and questions and answers.

Continuing Threat

Although the Nice Discount website appears to have been taken down, Amazon alleges that the John Does may continue operating similar websites. This all comes after Amazon filed a lawsuit in July 2022 against more than 10,000 leaders of Facebook groups that were responsible for or took part in publishing false reviews on the Amazon Marketplace.

As Amazon continues to combat false reviews and other fake content on its website, it is important for businesses and brands selling on the Amazon Marketplace to remain vigilant in monitoring their listings and the content related to their listings as well as competitors’ products who may be infringing intellectual property. For assistance navigating these issues or the Amazon Marketplace generally, please reach out to Kyle D. Stroup (330.978.6549; KDS@kjk.com), Nathan F. Studeny (216.736.7284; NFS@kjk.com), or one of KJK’s eCommerce attorneys.