In what seems like a never-ending game of Whac-a-Mole, Amazon on Friday sued several operators of websites that allegedly sell fake reviews of products for posting on the retail giant’s online store.
In what seems like a never-ending game of Whac-a-Mole, Amazon.com has sued several operators of websites that sell fake reviews of products for posting on the retail giant’s online store.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in King County Superior Court, pointed the mallet at Chris Embry, allegedly the New York-based operator of a website dubbed amazonverifiedreviews.com, which Amazon says promises to help sellers peddle their wares through falsified reviews, at least some of which it outsourced to a hacking website.
Also named in the lawsuit is Jane John-Nwanko, a Californian who Amazon says stands behind paidbookreviews.org, a site that offers to purchase an author’s book and “post positive comments” about it on Amazon. Amazon also sued five other people it couldn’t identify, but who ran sites with names such as amazonreviewsstar.com, buyamazonreviews.info and reviewconnections.com.
Embry’s site is offline, but according to an online search it’s still registered to his name. The registration information says that Embry lives in Massena, in upstate New York, near the Canadian border. He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
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John-Nwanko didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment either.
The lawsuit is part of Amazon’s efforts to protect the value of customer reviews, one of the features that have helped turn the site into the world’s top e-commerce destination.
Amazon says that only a small minority of reviews are fake. But rooting them out is a task worthy of Sisyphus, the Greek king condemned by the gods to keep pushing a rock up a steep hill, only to see it fall back down again and again.
Amazon won’t comment on active lawsuits, but it says that since the beginning of last year, it has sued more than 1,000 people for tampering with its review system.
It’s unclear whether many of these people — especially the elusive John and Jane Does — end up paying the damages sought by Amazon, or even desist from the actions.
In addition to damages, Amazon is requesting from the defendants information that would help the company identify the party that paid for the reviews and the people who created them. Such data have allowed the company to ostracize unscrupulous sellers and review writers, Amazon said..
“To help eliminate the incentives to engage in reviews abuse, we will continue to pursue legal action against the root cause of reviews abuse — the sellers and manufacturers who create the demand for fraudulent services — as well as the ecosystem of individuals and organizations who supply fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation,” Amazon said in a statement.