Are Fiverrs Running Scared From Amazon Fake Reviews Lawsuit?


Amazon fake review lawsuit

Less than a week after Amazon cracked down on fake reviews by filing a lawsuit, the sale of fake reviews at Fiverr.com still seems to be occurring.  And people still appear to be buying the services. But the lawsuit has started to put a dent in the fake review activity.

Amazon sued 1,114 reviewers in Washington state court on October 16, 2015.

Before filing the lawsuit, Amazon conducted an undercover sting operation by “purchasing ‘reviews’ for products and communicating directly with some of the defendants,” the complaint states.   The reviewers who were sued are ones that Amazon claims sold fake reviews for as little as $5.00 each on the services marketplace site called Fiverr (so named because every service is $5.00).



Review Services Thrive on Fiverr

Each of the reviewers who was sued was named by their Fiverr handle in Exhibit A attached to the lawsuit (embedded below).

The lawsuit is not against the Fiverr site itself. No wrongdoing has been claimed against Fiverr.com.  The lawsuit is against the named sellers of fake reviews.

While Fiverr has its share of spammy services such as fake reviews, the site also has millions of sellers of legitimate services.  For instance, many freelancers who are new will start at Fiverr. They sell services at low rates until they build up a portfolio. For them, Fiverr is a marketing platform and a place to find customers in the vast ocean of the Web.

Fiverr is also a great place if you need a very small service for your business, such as a single image edited. It would be impossible to hire a traditional design agency to edit just one image for $5.00.

Fiverr uses a system of badges, reviews and reputation points to rate sellers. The system is designed to use community reputation to help buyers choose reputable sellers.

Still, for the most part, Fiverr is an example of the free market in action. It is possible for almost anyone to set up a seller account on Fiverr.

That means there’s no barrier to entry for sellers to sell spammy services — other than buyers’ good sense.

This is the second Amazon fake reviews lawsuit.  Back in April 2015, the eCommerce giant filed suit against independent websites and businesses selling fake reviews for the Amazon site.  Those websites have since been shut down.

Fake Activity Slowing Down

When our editorial team visited Fiverr.com earlier this week, we found an entire category dedicated to review services.  It had over 4,000 “gigs” or service offerings around providing reviews.

We spot checked the list of the sellers named in the lawsuit.  The profile pages for all two dozen we spot-checked are no longer active. (See image above.)

Yet there are many reviewers still openly advertising that they will post positive Amazon reviews for $5.00.  One brazenly uses a photo of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to advertise his fake reviews service.

Amazon fake reviews lawsuit

Some sellers offer to post negative reviews, as the profile image below shows.  Negative reviews are used to sabotage one’s competition by making their product look bad.

Amazon fake reviews lawsuit

Both positive and negative paid reviews are against Amazon’s review guidelines.  Amazon’s prohibitions are broad enough that any kind of review in exchange for compensation (other than a free copy of the product) is in violation — even if the review is an honest opinion.

One thing we noticed as the week progressed is that fewer fake review services showed up prominently in Fiverr searches.  Whether that lesser visibility is due to sellers hearing about the lawsuit and deciding to voluntarily keep a low profile, or some other reason, is not clear.

Of course, not all sellers on Fiverr offer reviews that are blatantly fake.  Some sellers go to great pains to describe that they will not guarantee a positive review. Rather, they offer only to give their honest opinions.

However, there still seem to be plenty of others willing to sell their souls for $5.00.

Risky for Buyers of Amazon Fake Reviews, Too

It’s not just sellers who should be running scared. Buyers of fake reviews such as authors and product sellers run risks, too.

At the very least, fake reviews get removed. Your money is wasted.  Amazon’s algorithms are sophisticated enough to track patterns of activity. Once a fake reviewer is “outed,” it’s easy to trace other paid reviews and delete them.

The consequences could be even greater than a removed review and waste of time and money. More serious consequences could come from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission pursuing the parties for deceptive trade practices.

For an author caught buying reviews, it also can lead to a public relations nightmare.   Author Anne R. Allen advised other authors strongly against buying fake reviews earlier this year on her blog,  warning, “… you could get in big trouble. Soon.”

If you think you will never get caught, think again.

Amazon plans to use the lawsuit to ferret out the identities of the buyers of Amazon fake reviews.  The Amazon lawsuit demands that the Fiverr reviewers provide “information sufficient to identify each Amazon review created in exchange for payment, and the accounts and persons who paid for such reviews.”

Who knows what Amazon will do once it gets that information?

Image: Small Business Trends

14 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell - CEO


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of TweakYourBiz.com.

14 Reactions

  1. I am an Amazon customer and have been for many years. I review many of the products I buy, especially electronics and appliances. I also read a lot of the reviews, so I’m glad to see Amazon aggressively pursuing these fake reviewers.

  2. Aira Bongco

    Honestly, this review thing has to stop. More and more people are getting fooled into buying stuff that are not really that effective. But I guess it is a tough road for people who are just starting out. They need to get some reviews to get the ball rolling.

  3. Martin Lindeskog

    The only way is honest and true reviews in the long run!

  4. Testimonials and review, all fake are big business for fiverr. How can fiverr knowingly continue to allow fake reviewers, fake video testimonials, fake FB likes, fake twitter followers, fake traffic to a website, fake youtube views, back link and so called “pyramid” backlinks?

    Youtube, twitter, FB, google should all be suing fiverr. But, fiverr is not even mentioned in the lawsuit because these elitist companies communicate together and simply get away with doing whatever they want. In the mean time, it will always be the seller who gets in trouble.

    • @ Jackie. Fiverr can’t be sued due to section 230 of the communications decency act.

      • YES, FIVERR CAN BE SUED because they knowingly provided a platform for the sales of those services. Fiverr continues to accept a commission off sellers who sell fake services. So, they are just as liable as an individual. But, since Fiverr is based in Israel with only a small presence in the US and are friends with Amazon, Google, Facebook and others, it’s unlikely Fiverr will ever be sued directly.

        But, I can tell you others will be suing those who provide fake video testimonials. Other companies are waiting to see the outcome of the Amazon case.

        We found one guy who’s a convicted con artist selling seo services. It’s the most popular pyramid seo scam. The guy is laughing all the way to the bank. People stilled queued to buy this guys services. How can fiverr not know?

        And, my friends is called fraud.

  5. I’m so sick of all the deception that pervades society. What happened to the golden rule?? What happened to telling the truth?? This generation needs to straighten up and stop all their lying. It’s disgusting.

  6. Be Aware of Fiverr
    If you already have started working on Fiverr, please don’t do any higher budget project. You may not get your money. Fiverr has a league with the higher budget clients. This is why this website does not allow you to create a milestone for your work. Therefore, clients can go anytime, taking your complete work for free.
    Although FIverr takes charges from you, they always will speak in favour of your buyer. Therefore, if any dispute comes, your client will be the winner. Fiverr will only cancel the work after taking their charges. It means Fiverr will get their charges and clients will get back the rest. Here you are the only loser.
    He will be allowed to take your work without paying you a single farthing for it. Even if you send the link where your work is live, Fiverr team will take no action against your client.

  7. I was a reviewer with Fiverr for many years. I, and others like me, actually read the books we were hired to review, and we provided reviews that were not always glowing. Needless to say that did not make some clients happy, lol! More than once I ended up refunding a job because the book barely deserved a 1 star review and I always turned away buyers who demanded 5 star reviews. However, as time went by we saw more and more scammers setting up shop offering guaranteed 5 star reviews, sometimes dozens at a time. We knew the writing was on the wall then, thanks to idiots who would post a dozen “great book i like very much!” reviews and the hacks who were happy to hire them. When word of the suit came out, we shut down and sat back to see what happened. Interestingly, the high volume scammer names on the list that we recognized remained active for months afterwards. ______ is one that comes to mind, and he’s still operational today. He used to try to hire us to do 5 fake product reviews for one gig, which means $4 for you and $1 for Fiverr. As I have not heard another peep about this fabled lawsuit, I suspect it was all a big show designed to scare off the reviewers. After all, it’s not likely Amazon will get much traction suing ____ in Dehli or ____ in Singapore over chump change.

    [Above comment edited by Editor to remove specific names]

  8. It’s funny how everyone knows that there are A LOT of fake reviews but no one can actually do anything and there is no alternative to current systems. Everyone just keeps going to the same places. Honaro has a really nice way of verifying review. Maybe there will be a proper website for this in the future that peopel can actually trust.

  9. My company has been a legitimate high volume seller on Amazon for 8 years. With all of Amazon’s bellowing about filing lawsuits to stop fake reviews, you would think they they are highly concerned about fake reviews. They’re not. I can tell with certainty that these lawsuits are nothing but a ruse to get people to believe in the Amazon review system. Amazon couldn’t care less about fake reviews.

  10. So basically Amazon is suing someone who wrote a review for a product and got $4 for this?!!!!!

  11. I’m sure that two more will pop up for every one that they take down through their lawyers. There are even services where you can buy amazon reviews through some sort of network that connects people with great deals and expects you to leave reviews in return.

  12. Fake reviewing is an unfortunate and unscrupulous phenomenon – however you have to think that it just mimics the usual way products are advertised in our current society –if adverts on television are not fake reviewing then what are they? The only difference is that the lies you are being sold on television, you accept as the norm. It’s very hypocritical really.
    One has to wonder – why is it that writers feel they need to get fake reviews in the first place?
    I can guarantee you it’s not because Amazon helps you promote the work you have put so much effort into for so many months and sometimes years.
    One of my author friends had gained a very well deserved review from a reader who lived locally – however, that reader’s roommate also happened to have an opinion on the book (it seems that in the Amazon universe, only one person per house is deemed worthy of having an opinion) and not knowing that it was impossible to add her review, she did. Amazon proceeded to not only remove her review, but also the previous one from the same address. Would that not absolutely break your heart when you have invested so much into what you do. This is sabotage, I will even call it witch-hunting and it basically undermines any hard work that a debuting author has invested in, in a honest manner.
    And for what? Does it help Amazon on the long run? Who does it help?
    Is it also that there’s only one person in the Amazon universe who can think and do they all share the same brain cell? It sounds likely.

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