In three cases filed with the American Arbitration Association, Amazon accused third-party sellers operating on its site of creating or paying for fake reviews of their products.
Amazon.com, which has sued more than 1,000 parties for allegedly offering fake reviews for sale to post on the retailer’s website, is now going after merchants who it says paid for false testimony.
In three cases filed with the American Arbitration Association, Amazon accused third-party sellers operating on its site of creating or paying for fake reviews of their products. A significant percentage of the reviews for these merchants’ products, Amazon says in the filing, were from so-called “sock puppets,” accounts of made-up people created to post gushing comments.
The move is a new twist on how Amazon polices what has become a vast, somewhat freewheeling marketplace at the heart of global e-commerce.
Reviews are key to purchasing decisions and Amazon’s brand. While the company maintains that only a small minority of reviews are fake, it must show a lot of vigor in the courts in order to keep unruly participants in its marketplace honest.
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In April, Amazon sued in King County Superior Court several operators of websites that allegedly sold fake reviews for books and other products. But by going after merchants who pay for the reviews, Amazon seeks to address the root of the problem.
“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 company said in a statement.
The merchants identified by Amazon in the requests for arbitration are Michael Abbara, of Fullerton, Calif., who registered as a seller last September under the name REPZ. Amazon says at least 30 percent of the reviews for Abbara’s products were fake.
The other merchants named are Kurt Bauer, of York, Pa., who sold merchandise under the name of “Barclin Home Products,” and CCbetter Direct, a company in China operating as “Bardin Home Products.” The parties couldn’t be reached for comment.
It’s unclear what products they sold, as their storefronts couldn’t be found on Amazon’s website. (Amazon declines to comment on the details of ongoing litigation.)
Amazon asks the arbitrator to ban these merchants from using the Amazon website, as well as set aside the profits obtained illegally with the fake reviews in a trust with Amazon as a beneficiary. It also wants damages and for the merchants to pay legal costs.