Competition Bureau Investigating Alleged Fake Amazon Reviews: Court Docs

Competition Bureau Investigating Alleged Fake Amazon Reviews: Court Docs
A woman works at a packing station at the 855,000-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City, on Feb. 5, 2019. (Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images)
Marnie Cathcart

The Canadian Competition Bureau is investigating fake consumer reviews of Amazon products, according to court documents filed on June 21.

“Based on my review of the records and information gathered over the course of the investigation I believe that certain product reviews and star ratings on the Amazon platform are likely fake reviews,” Danielle McKenzie, a Competition Bureau lawyer, wrote in a court affidavit, as reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

McKenzie further alleges in the affidavit that recruiters use Facebook to find people to create the alleged fake reviews.

“There are markets on social media such as Facebook where people are recruited to make fake reviews including star ratings,” McKenzie said. “Amazon subsequently makes representations that are based in whole or in part on the fake reviews. Consumers rely on these representations in making their purchasing decisions.”

The Competition Bureau has gone to federal court to compel Meta, which owns Facebook, to provide information related to 641 users as part of the probe into the issue.

Investigations also included federal investigators posing as Facebook users with pseudonyms.

“The team observed posts on Facebook review groups and linked images or descriptions in these posts to matching product listings on the Amazon platform,“ according to McKenzie. ”The posts observed by the team were either visible to the public or to all members of a group.”

Neither Amazon nor Facebook has been charged with any offence or accused of any breach. It is not clear from the court records if Amazon is aware of the investigation.

An Amazon spokesperson told The Epoch Times on June 27 that the company has “zero tolerance for fake reviews and want[s] Amazon customers to shop with confidence knowing that the reviews they see are authentic and trustworthy.”

“We have clear policies that prohibit reviews abuse, and we suspend, ban, and take legal action against those who violate these policies and remove inauthentic reviews. We aim to prevent fake reviews from ever appearing in our store and in 2022, we proactively blocked more than 200 million suspected fake reviews in all of our stores worldwide,” the statement added.

“We encourage customers concerned about the authenticity of reviews left on a product to use the ‘Report’ link, so that we can investigate and take the appropriate action. When a customer reports abuse, we immediately look into it and take the necessary action.”

Amazon dominates among online retailers, according to a 2019 Bank of Canada study, with the e-commerce industry accounting for $56 billion a year in sales by federal government estimates.

Editor’s note: This article contained errors in the details of the Competition Bureau’s probe, and has been updated with corrected information. The Epoch Times regrets the errors.