#FakeReviews? FTC cracking down on companies that buy false product reviews
If you shop on Amazon a lot, you've probably made some decisions on which product to purchase by reading reviews.
The Federal Trade Commission has taken down fake reviews that were purchased to boost sales of a product.
We all do it. Before hitting "pay now,” we read through dozens, if not hundreds of reviews, especially on Amazon, wondering if we can trust them.
"It's really hard to tell that reviews are fake or that they've been paid for. It's hard for consumers, it's hard for us."
"Us" is the Federal Trade Commission, which announced its first settlement in a case against a company that purchased fake reviews for a product on Amazon.
The product is Quality Ecapsulations Garcinia Camboga Extract with HCA.
"They purchased reviews and said they wanted them to be 5-star," said FTC Attorney Michael Osteheimer.
Osteheimer says some of the positive reviews sound like many we've all read for other products.
Here is an example: "I lost around 8 pounds in roughly weeks, and the best part is, I don't get hungry."
The company settled with the FTC for over $12 million. It'll also have to send emails to everyone who bought it saying the reviews were fake, and there's no proof it works.
In fact, there's an identical product for sale on Amazon right now. Same bottle, same label, different company owner. It has over 12,000 reviews with a 4-star average.
When I checked those reviews using "Fakespot.com," I found the reviews have a C rating. Amazon has removed 151 of those reviews and Fakespot has determined through patterns that there may be deception involved. That goes for the negative reviews as well. Competing companies sometimes hire reviewers to leave negative feedback on a product.
It isn't easy. Sometimes it's impossible to identify fake reviews. Search for the product outside of Amazon and you might find more honest reviews.
The FTC claims the company purchased the fake reviews from AmazonVerifiedReviews.com, a website that no longer exists. But we found over a dozen other companies that can also be hired to write and post fake reviews.