Amazon Files Lawsuit To Vanquish Websites Selling Allegedly Fake Product Reviews

And now we cannot even trust critics and reviewers! Jay Gentile, a man based in California who is said to be the operator of a number of sites that sell 4-star and 5-star reviews to Amazon sellers (among them buyazonreviews.com and buyreviewsnow.com) is the target of a lawsuit filed by Amazon in an effort by the mega-retailer to crack down on fake reviews. Other "John Does" also believed to be involved in such practices are alluded to in the suit as well.

Filed Wednesday in King County Superior Court in Washington state, the Amazon lawsuit accuses Gentile and the John Does of trademark infringement, false advertising and violations of the Anticyber­squatting Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

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“While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” the suit states. “Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews. The suit goes further, saying, “Despite substantial efforts to stamp out the practice, an unhealthy ecosystem is developing outside of Amazon to supply inauthentic reviews. Defendants’ businesses consist entirely of selling such reviews.”

Specifically, the cited scam offers to provide fake "verified reviews" to customers, directing the Amazon sellers to ship empty boxes to reviewers in on the scheme for the purpose of tricking Amazon into believing that a transaction has actually taken place and moved through to completion.

Mark Collins, the owner of buyamazonreviews.com (named in the Amazon lawsuit, though Collins himself is not), denied Amazon’s claims, saying that his site offers only to help Amazon’s third-party sellers get reviews. “We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products,” Collins offered. “And this is not illegal at all.” Collins describes his website as a "middleman", helping to connect sellers to buyers who are willing to write reviews, who in turn receive discounted items for their trouble And according to Collins, there are no required criteria for the reviews posted. And according to Collins, he and his website are in no way connected to the sites run by Jay Gentile, who he claims not to know.

Amazon is asking that the websites cited in the lawsuit be compelled to cease using Amazon’s name and stop selling Amazon reviews, as well as triple damages and attorneys fees.

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