Fake online reviews are openly traded on the internet, a BBC survey has found.
BBC 5 live Investigation has been able to buy a fake, five-star recommendation placed on one of the world leaders in the examination of web sites, Trustguard.
It has also revealed the online forums where Amazon shoppers are offered a full refund in exchange for product reviews.
The two companies said that they do not tolerate fake reviews.Trying to game the system”
The popularity of the online review sites to say that they are increasingly relied on by both companies and their customers, with the government Competition and Markets Authority estimate these examinations potentially influence £23 billion of UK spending customers each year.
Maria Menelaou, including Yorkshire, the Fishing chip shop is in the top of the fish and chip shop in Blackpool on several review sites, said that the system has replaced the traditional advertising.
“It gives us a lot of customers … It really does make a difference. We do not advertise,” Mrs Menelaou said.
While three-quarters of adults in the united KINGDOM online review web sites, nearly half of those who believe that they have seen fake reviews, according to a survey of 1500 residents in the UK conducted by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and shared with the BBC 5 live Investigation.
Some analysts estimate that less than half of the reviews for some of the products displayed on international websites like Amazon are potentially unreliable.
“The sellers are trying to game the system and there is a lot of money on the table,” said Tommy Noonan, who directs ReviewMeta, a U.S. web site that analyzes reviews online.
“If you can rank number one for, say, the bluetooth headsets and that you sell a cheap product, you can make a lot of money,” he said.
‘5-star is best for us”
In 2016, Amazon has launched a wide range of measures prohibiting what it called “with a bonus exam”, where companies offered customers free products in exchange for positive reviews.
Mr. Noonan stated this effectively drove the problem underground, leading to the emergence of Facebook groups where the potential Amazon customers were encouraged to buy a product and post a comment in return for a full refund.
BBC 5 live Investigation has identified several of these groups and, within minutes of your accession, has been approached with offers of full refunds on products purchased on Amazon in exchange for positive reviews.
“5 stars is better for us,” said a person who makes such an offer, in an exchange of messages with the BBC. “We value our brand, and will refund to you as we promised … my Entire company to do it this way.”
It has not been possible to identify people who make these offers, or contact with the companies whose products they were looking for comments.
“We do not allow reviews in exchange for compensation of any kind, including the payment. Customers and the Market vendors must follow our review guidelines and those who do will be subject to action, including the possible termination of their account,” Amazon said in a press release.
Responding to ads posted on eBay, the BBC has also been able to buy a fake 5-star review on Trustguard, an online review website that describes itself as “determined to be the most trusted online of the examination of the community on the market”.
“Dan, the Box is one of the most respected professionals I have dealt with. It was a pleasure doing business with him,” this review said word for word, as requested by 5 live Investigation.
Trustguard, whose platform allows anyone to post a comment, said that they “have a policy of zero tolerance of any misuse.”
“We have specialist software that screens of criticism against 100 data points around the clock to identify and remove fake,” the company said.
In a statement, eBay said the sale of these examinations is banned from its platform, “and all lists will be deleted”.
5 live Investigation is on BBC Radio 5 live, 29 April at 11:00 GMT – catch up on the BBC iPlayer Radio.
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