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By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report
A story posted on Yahoo News the other day caught my attention because what happens on Amazon has ripple effects on what happens to other businesses.
The story, Amazon flooded with fake five-star reviews, cited an investigation by the consumer group Which? that found hundreds of unverified accounts left top reviews on tech products in a single day.
The firm indicated glowing reviews from unverified buyers are a “telltale sign of ‘fake’ reviews,” and said its findings showed they had become a “serious problem” in online shopping.
This seems to be a common occurrence today. A number of well-respected review sites have been caught with their pants down when it was discovered many of their reviews were made by unverified accounts.
Any business owner who has been in business for more than six months probably gets dozens of emails every month offering search engine optimization help. Many of these offers are from overseas companies.
That’s part of the scam. To improve a businesses ranking in search results, the scammers flood the internet with fake reviews and profiles of a company.
I use reviews all the time when deciding to patronize a business or buy a product. That’s what makes this type of fraud so harmful to companies and the economy.
Bad companies that make bad products or provide horrible service deserve to be ushered out of business — not forced to the top of a list of well-respected firms.
In the Yahoo story, the company conducting the research discovered more than 10,000 reviews from unverified users on just 24 pair of headphones, all of which were made in just a couple of hours and all for obscured brands.
It’s way too easy for firms to artificially inflate the reputations of companies with fake reviews, or work to destroy the reputations of honest competitors simply by paying a scam SEO firm to promote negative reviews.
The best way to fight this type of fraud is for review sites to limit reviews to verified purchases or legitimate customers only.
Consumers should be suspicious of any company or product that has a disproportionate number of five-star reviews.