Amazon has begun taking legal action against more than 1,000 freelancers it claims have written fake reviews for its website.
According to court records, the US based e-commerce giant filed the lawsuit in Seattle, Washington, on Friday.
The lawsuit directly targets freelancers working for Fiverr.com, an online freelance website. Amazon states that the 1,114 defendants, all currently referenced as “John Does,” wrote false reviews for products on Amazon.com in exchange for payment and the promise of five-star reviews for sellers’ products.
Amazon claims in the lawsuit that they are “bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate.”
The online retailer also states that its brand reputation is being tarnished by “false, misleading and inauthentic” reviews.
While it is possible for anyone to review products sold on Amazon, the rules of the site forbid users being paid to leave reviews, or for posting reviews on products they don’t actually own.
The major crux of Amazons argument is that a small group of sellers and manufacturers regularly commission positive customer reviews to be posted in order for certain products to garner unfair advantages: “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 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.”
Fiverr.com itself, has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuit, despite acting as an intermediary marketplace for freelancers and those willing to pay for positive reviews.
Fiverr.com released a statement on Friday as well, making clear their own position that the actions of freelancers named in the Amazon lawsuit are forbidden by the sites rules.
Fiverr.com also stated that they were working closely with Amazon to resolve the issue: “We continue to use a number of mechanisms to detect and remove the small fraction of reviews that violate our guidelines.”
This is not the first time that Amazon has taken legal action to stop ‘false positive’ reviews on its e-commerce store. Amazon sued several websites In April of this year for offering to sell fake reviews.