Amazon, the online retailer, has sued three of its sellers for using 'sock puppet' accounts to post fake reviews about their products. The three sellers being sued include two individuals, Michael Abbara from California and Kurt Bauer from Pennsylvania, as well as a Chinese company, CCBetter Direct. Amazon claims that fake reviews accounted for 30-45% of the sellers' total reviews.
A spokesperson for Amazon explained the company's goals in going after sellers that post or pay for fake reviews:
“Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation.”
The spokesperson went on to say that Amazon is successful when it comes to shutting down fake reviews:
“The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day.”
Since early 2015, Amazon has sued over 1,000 people for posting fake reviews in return for cash, but this is the first time sellers have been targeted with legal action. The three sellers being sued are accused of creating the reviews themselves with fake accounts as opposed to buying reviews.
Should Amazon win its case against the defendants, the latter could be banned from selling their products on the site, forced to give its profits to Amazon, made to pay the attorneys' fees, and pay damages exceeding $25,000. With these consequences, it could be enough to persuade other crooked sellers to play by the rules while selling on Amazon.