Amazon’s fake reviews have gotten out of hand, lawmakers demand answers

fake reviews

At the time when faith in our media and government is low, 82% of Americans check and trust online reviews before buying any products. Based on research, experts have found out that American shoppers are swayed more by the star ratings rather than reviews written by reviewers.

In a study by Fakespot, fake reviews are becoming prevalent across top eCommerce platforms. In fact, 32% of Amazon reviews are unreliable or fake as estimated by Fakespot. The fake but positive ratings and reviews make a product look popular and better than it actually is.

Sentiments on Amazon Fake Reviews by Genuine Amazon Sellers

According to Tommy Noonan, owner of Review Meta, “These days, it is very hard to sell anything on Amazon if you play fairly.” He continues to say “If you want your products to be competitive, you have to somehow manufacture reviews.”

His sentiments were echoed by Mark Caldeira, owner of Mayapple Baby. He said this about Amazon product reviews “It is devastating, devasting.” This is after his product rankings dropped in the past year as a result of competitors using paid reviews.

Letters from the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce to Amazon CEO

Due to increasing reports about Amazon fake reviews, the Democratic representative on the Committee of Energy and Commerce sought an explanation from Amazon CEO. The Chair of the Committee, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey sent a letter to Jeff Bezos, founder, and CEO of Amazon.

In the letter, the Committee sought an explanation on what steps Amazon is taking to identify, remove and prevent the paid and fake reviews from its marketplace. They also want to know if the company was benefiting in any way by promoting products with deceptive reviews.

The Committee pointed out that studies have shown that unknown brands are dominating search results in major categories. In fact, one of the studies found that a single product had over a hundred five-star unverified reviews in a single day.

Underlying Problems with Amazon’s Choice  Award

Among the hundreds of positive reviews, many were for completely unrelated products. Due to the rise in fake reviews over the past few months, these off-brand products are dominating Amazon’s search results.

In a report by BuzzFeed News, experts discovered “that Amazon does not perform any oversight or due diligence on off-brand products dominating its search results.” Although these products have the “Amazon’s Choice” award, they are defective.

Amazon’s Choice award is automatically awarded to listings by an algorithm. This system awards different products based on price and customer reviews. It also checks if the product is in stock.

On inquiring how Amazon’s Choice selections are sometimes flawed and how the system works, Amazon did not respond to BuzzFeed News.

But an Amazon spokesperson wrote the following statement “Amazon’s Choice was launched in 2015 as a way to simplify shopping for customers by highlighting highly rated, well placed priced products ready to ship immediately for the most popular searches on Amazon.”

In the letter, the Committee chair also highlights how unscrupulous businesses pay more than $10,000 a month to generate positive paid reviews. As such, the algorithm gets tricked into ranking the off-brand products higher on the search results. The paid reviews are crowding out genuine comments which put honest sellers at a disadvantage.

FTC First Legal Action Against a Retail Website

In February 2019, the Federal Trade Commission announced the first case against an independent retail website on fake paid reviews. In the complaint, the FTC alleges that the retail website paid a third-party website to post reviews on Amazon for its Garcinia Cambogia products.

As described in the complaint, the defendants wanted to ensure the products have a five-star rating. Apart from the paid reviews, FTC alleges that the retailer made false claims on their Amazon product page.

Although the lawsuit against the independent retailer is a step in the right direction, the Committee is expecting more. What they expect is protection for consumers as well as genuine Amazon sellers.

As such, Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. And Rep. Jan Schakowsky expect a response from Amazon by July 30th, 2019.


  1. On the contrary! Amazon is very scrutinizing with Reviews. Whenever I SUBMIT a Review for APPROVAL, Amazon has several guidelines for Reviews, and they have to APPROVE or DENY your Review. I’ve had mine DENIED several times before for not being own line with Amazon’s guidelines. Therefore, Amazon has a very strict REVIEW guideline process and it takes days before your Review is approved and published. I am impressed with how much scrutiny Amazon places on their Reviews. The article above is FUD designed to create fear, uncertainty and doubt about anything or any company in an effort to bring down a stock price. Don’t fall for the fake article above. Write your own Amazon review and see for yourself how it goes through a SUBMITTAL process and a department then reviews your review, either approves or denies it based on Amazon guidelines.

  2. Victoria this is a know issue that many Amazon retailers have been complaining about. This is currently being covered by many major news outlets not just here. Your rebuttal sounds like you are trying to defend either Amazon or a company that is benefiting from this abuse of the system.

  3. I would imagine that with today’s technology it would be possible to create the kind of a review system that simply doesn’t work, unless the system verifies you positively as a buyer of that particular product.