Amazon’s fight against fake reviews rages on with a new lawsuit filed against enterprising Fiverr.com freelancers offering to write phony product reviews. The suit, filed Friday in Washington, lists more than 1,000 “John Doe” defendants by their Fiverr user names.
The lawsuit lays out a brief introduction explaining that a small minority of sellers and manufacturers sometimes use fake customer reviews to gain an unfair advantage on Amazon. “While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand,” according to the complaint.
Amazon goes on to point the finger directly at 1,114 John Doe defendants who sell false reviews via Fiverr, a site where people can provide various services at a starting price of $5.
“I will do, Amazon, Reviews, Amazon, Reviews, for $5,” writes Fiverr user bess98 in her gig offering, which Amazon highlights as an example in the lawsuit.
Amazon went so far as to have an investigator communicate with some Fiverr users offering to write bogus reviews. One user offered to use multiple accounts and IP addresses when writing their reviews to throw Amazon off the scent. Another user said they were willing to receive an empty envelope for the sole purpose of creating a shipping record to better fool Amazon and its customers.
“Defendants are misleading Amazon’s customers and tarnishing Amazon’s brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers,” the company says in the complaint. “Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate.”
While the e-commerce giant goes on to say that it successfully requested the removal of individual Fiverr listings in the past, those small wins did not address the root issue “or serve as a sufficient deterrent to the bad actors engaged in creating and purchasing fraudulent product reviews.” Amazon says this new suit is meant to be the next step in a continuing fight against fake product review writers and the companies that hire them.
To be clear, Amazon is not suing Fiverr, which forbids this kind of practice on their site. The two companies are working together to resolve the issue, according to a Fiverr spokesman.
In April, Amazon filed a suit against four companies that were accused of selling counterfeit product reviews to merchants. “Most of these sites have since closed and Amazon has identified and taken action against sellers who used those sites to obtain fake reviews,” the company notes in its introduction to its latest complaint.