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To combat fake reviews, Amazon is suing its own merchants

Aware that fake product reviews threaten the very integrity of its massive online shopping empire, Amazon has been making efforts to eliminate them from its site by suing businesses that sell them to merchants.

But now it’s going after the merchants, too.

That’s right, if you’re a seller that posts fake reviews for your own goods on Amazon, or if you buy fake reviews for your products, legal action could be just around the corner.

Taking merchants to court appears to be part of a new strategy by the Seattle-based company, with at least three – one in California, one in Pennsylvania, and another in Wisconsin – hit with lawsuits in recent days, TechCrunch said. Fake reviews reportedly comprised up to 45 percent of all the reviews on each of the merchants’ stores.

Amazon has increasingly been filing lawsuits against businesses offering merchants positive reviews of their products for a fee. But this is the first time the company is going after sellers – the very people that help the company make money.

Despite assurances by the online shopping company that only a very small percentage of reviews across its entire site are fake, it knows that for the site to maintain the trust of customers, it has to deal swiftly with bogus reviews where it finds them. While Amazon has always suspended or closed the accounts of sellers caught posting fake reviews, its response has become altogether more determined with the threat of legal action.

Related: Canada gets tough on fakery as Bell Canada gets fined for posting fake Play Store reviews

“The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day,” the company said in a statement. Referencing its latest move targeting merchants, it said it wants to “eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation,” adding, “Lawsuits are only one piece of the puzzle.”