Amazon, the globally renowned e-commerce company with a net worth that reaches into a trillion, has decided to file a lawsuit against four websites that are accused of publishing fabricated and fraudulent reviews on Amazon products. These reviews would end up misleading buyers, and in turn, harm the strong representation of quality and integrity Amazon has strived to build as a leader of this market.
Filed in Seattle’s King Country Superior Court, Amazon seems to be hoping this suit will make a statement about its intention to crack down on those who participate in phony product reviews on their site. This is actually one of the first recorded efforts of Amazon acting legally against fraudulent review companies.
While simple reviews may not seem like a crime worth the effort, it is important to note that fabricated 4 and 5 star reviews will not only weaken the brand Amazon has worked so hard to create, but it will also impact honest sellers on the site who will have their quality products overlooked for items that have higher ratings thanks to these false reviews.
The suit makes this clear when it states that, “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,”. It continues on to state, “Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews. Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews.”
One defendant of the anti-fraudulent reviews suit is Jay Gentile. Gentile is a California resident who was allegedly running a site by the name of buyamazonreviews.com. There is also Mark Collins who was reported by the Seattle Times to own the site. Collins claims to know nothing of Gentile, despite being the sites owner and the suit listing him as running the site. He says that his site was not about selling reviews that were fake, but would “provide unbiased and honest review on all the products.”. Collins clearly states that he does not believe his site has done anything that can be considered illegal.
In addition to Gentile and Collins, there are also one to twenty unknown figures involved in this suit behind such sites as “buyamazonreviews.com,” “bayreviews.net” and “buyreviewsnow.com.”
Those accused will have to face judgment on a number of possible laws such as, “violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, as well as of false advertising and trademark infringement.”.
Amazon is far from being the only company suffering from fraudsters. Other review sites such as Yelp must always be on guard of this kind of manipulative activity if they wish to keep the trust of their users. Luckily, what Amazon is doing is a major step forward that should deliver a clear warning for any who wish to continue these types of actions that harm sites and consumers.
Those who are interested in learning more about cases like this, or who want to keep up-to-date on the latest legal proceedings, check out the Newman & Shapiro Whistleblower Help Center and blog!