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    Amazon Bans 600+ Seller Accounts for Review Manipulations

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    Fake reviews are a blemish on Amazon’s nearly untarnished reputation. The leading online retailer accounted for 37.8% of the American market in June 2022. In addition to more than 200 Prime subscribers, there are 6.3 million FFA and third-party sellers (1.5 million active). While 6.3 million sellers benefit Amazon and its Prime members, the same does not reign true for sellers.

    The Amazon Marketplace is oversaturated with sellers promoting the same or similar products. Even active members report lower sales due to their ever-increasing number of competitors. More than 600 sellers, unfortunately, took matters into their own hands. While against Amazon Marketplace policies, “review manipulation” offered the competitive edge these sellers desired and needed to make sales.

    Honourable sellers believed Amazon turned a blind eye to manipulated reviews for years. In 2020, Amazon Fakepost, a detection service for fake reviews, detected 720 million bogus reviews. 10,000 Facebook groups were named in a lawsuit filed by the retail giant in July 2022.

    Amazon Bans 600+ Sellers

    Review manipulation resulted in the banning of 600 seller accounts. The ban only encouraged the impacted account holders to strategize new manipulation methods, such as opening new seller accounts and sending postcards to Amazon Prime members.

    Review
    Amazon Bans 600+ Seller Accounts for Review Manipulations 4

    Product review manipulation does not just impact Amazon customers but also sellers that heed the marketplace regulations. It also harms brands like Nike, Dior, Chanel, Craftsman, Samsung, Pampers, Gucci, L’Oreal, and Gillette.

    Review
    Amazon Bans 600+ Seller Accounts for Review Manipulations 5
    • Acquired stealth accounts from black hat services
    • Collected customer’s information (address and name)
    • Developed new brands from unbranded Chinese products
    • Created multiple seller accounts
    • “Request a Review” feature stays inactive to avoid negative customer reviews.
    • Offered customers partial refunds to prevent negative reviews
    • Sent postcards to customers via snail mail, providing cash for positive reviews

    Individual Sellers, Not Companies

    Amazon’s selling partners are mostly individual sellers, not commercial establishments. Review manipulation and counterfeit products have harmed dozens of brands, including Ikea, Birkenstock, Ralph Lauren, PopSockets, Buy.com, Gap, Macy’s, and Nike. The impacted companies pulled their products from the Amazon Marketplace to fight back.

    Review
    Amazon Bans 600+ Seller Accounts for Review Manipulations 6

    Amazon Deletes Millions Of Fraudulent Product Reviews

    Millions of fraudulent product reviews were deleted as part of Amazon’s crackdown. The bogus reviews disappeared from the marketplace but not the fake product ratings. Amazon permitted the offenders (sellers manipulating reviews) to keep their 4- and 5-star ratings. With all the fraud reviews gone, Prime members have no idea how the products received such high ratings.

    An Ongoing Problem

    Although Amazon has addressed the problem, it hasn’t done enough. Some brands still participate in this scheme to boost product ratings and sales. The “DAVV” brand on Amazon and others still offer gift cards for a 4.6-star rating. Reviewers on Amazon mention that these brands offered reviews for gift cards.

    • DAVV Minoxidil
    • Tomum Minoxidil

    Both sellers are selling 5% Minoxidil in a spray formula. Tomum has a 4.8-star rating.

    Oak’s research also uncovered competitive review fraud; sellers scam buyers by offering a refund for a competitor’s product and never providing it. The buyers believe they have been scammed by the competitor; they return the product and downgrade their review to a 1-star. Thus, a malicious seller could degrade a competitor’s reputation (via a return and a negative review) at no cost. The study also identifies two other novel kinds of fraud: agents defraud buyers and sellers, and buyers defraud agents and sellers. 

    According to a statement by Amazon, it has 12,000 employees worldwide dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews. A dedicated team investigates fake review schemes on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, and regularly reports the abusive groups to those companies. However, it looks like the problem continues to persist: thousands of groups on Facebook, Discord and Telegram still exist where fake reviews are brokered. And as Oak’s study showed, Amazon cannot rapidly block malicious products and sellers from its platform. Source

    Afterword

    Some consumers believe Amazon’s fight against review manipulation came too late. Deleting fake reviews while leaving fake product ratings intact may not be the answer. Are the entire fraudulent ratings Amazon’s way of avoiding lost sales while enticing customers to buy the questionable products?

    The Amazon Marketplace is one of the most competitive. The more new seller accounts are approved, the odds of making sales decrease. The key to being a successful Amazon seller is unique, high-demand products. In the meantime, sellers and Prime members hope the retailer’s review manipulation strategy is effective.

    To keep yourself updated with the latest eCommerce and Amazon news, subscribe to our newsletter at www.cruxfinder.com

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