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Amazon Sellers Are Bribing Users With Cash and Gift Vouchers for Five-star Reviews, Investigation Reveals

Amazon sellers are trying to increase positive reviews on products by offering buyers bribes of cash or gift vouchers in exchange for boosting reviews, an investigation has found.

A new study by U.K-based consumer watchdog Which? analyzed thousands of listings and discovered how far some vendors on the world’s biggest shopping website go to mislead customers. It probed the top 20 products in popular home technology categories—and found a slew of abusive tactics.

In one case, the researchers said a customer had received eight requests from a seller to alter a 3-star rating to a 5-star rating on a solar floodlight product, even offering a partial refund in exchange.

In another instance, Which? found a customer who complained in a review that a product did not work as advertised had been offered a £25 Amazon gift card in exchange for removing the criticism.

According to the research—which included 90 user complaints about fake reviews collected over the past month—hacked Amazon accounts are also being used to post forged opinions. One customer said their account had been compromised and abused to leave 2,552 reviews on several products. Which? said some cyberattack victims had been told they would have to manually remove the fraudulent reviews.

Natalie Hitchins, the group’s head of home products and services, said: “Our investigation shows the lengths that unscrupulous sellers will go to constantly pull the wool over the eyes of shoppers.

“It is unacceptable that consumers continue to be misled into buying poor quality or even unsafe products by the current system of reviews and rankings,” Hitchins continued, noting the culprits could face legal trouble. “Online platforms must do more to tackle fake reviews, going above and beyond the current approach.”