Amazon Sues California Man for Selling Fake Product Reviews

10:40 AM EDT 4/9/2015 by Kara Michelle, Celebeat Reporter

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Amazon has filed suit against the alleged operator of several sites that offer Amazon sellers the chance to buy fake 4- and 5-star customer reviews of their products according to Geek Wire.

The lawsuit, reportedly the first of its kind, was filed in King County Superior Court against a certain Jay Gentile, a resident of California, who has been identified in Amazon's filings as the operator of sites including buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com. Also covered in the complaint are several "John Does" who allegedly likewise took part in the scheme.

As alleged by Amazon, "these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon's brand. Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews. Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews. Defendants' businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews."

Gentile reportedly offers to provide fake "verified reviews" for a premium, telling the sellers that they can ship empty boxes to reviewers involved in the scheme, to trick Amazon into thinking that the product had actually been purchased. Citing a specific instance, the lawsuit said: "Indeed, one of the review sites - buyazonreviews.com - even chastised a reviewer for complaining about not receiving the product, admitting, 'All our reviewers know of the process and I am not sure as to why she sent this to you but I will ensure it does not happen in the future.'"

The allegation continues: "The defendants at the unambiguously named 'buyamazonreviews.com' promise, 'You can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week.' The defendants operating 'bayreviews.net' use Amazon's logo to advertise 'a unique system that generates high quality 5 rating reviews to your Kindle eBook.' And the defendants at 'buyreviewsnow.com' claim, 'never has it been easier to get multiple 4 and 5 star reviews on your product page.' Defendants are misleading Amazon's customers and tarnishing Amazon's brand for their own profit and the profit of a handful of dishonest sellers and manufacturers. Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping Defendants and disrupting the marketplace in which they participate."

Claiming trademark violations, unfair competition and deceptive acts, among other allegations. Amazon is seeking court action to be awarded, including restitution, and requesting an accounting of the alleged profits received by Gentile and his colleagues from selling the fake reviews. 

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