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Amazon has filed a lawsuit against the administrators of more than 10,000 Facebook groups which attempt to orchestrate fake reviews in exchange for money or free products.

The groups are set up to recruit individuals willing to post incentivised and misleading reviews on Amazon’s online stores in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Japan.

The reviews are designed to artificially boost product ratings and therefore increase their likelihood of being bought by customers.

One of the groups identified in the lawsuit is “Amazon Product Review,” which had more than 43,000 members until Meta, which owns Facebook, took down the group earlier this year.

The fraudsters behind such groups solicit fake reviews for hundreds of products available for sale on Amazon, including car stereos and camera tripods.

Amazon strictly prohibits fake reviews and has more than 12,000 employees around the world dedicated to protecting its stores from fraud and abuse, including fake reviews.

A dedicated team investigates fake review schemes on social media sites, including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, and regularly reports the abusive groups to those companies.

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Amazon’s investigations revealed that those running the schemes attempt to hide their activity and evade Facebook’s detection, in part by obfuscating letters from problematic phrases.

Amazon has said it will use information discovered in its legal action to identify bad actors and remove fake reviews commissioned by the fraudsters.

The reviews that will be removed will be ones that have not already been detected by Amazon’s advanced technology, expert investigators, and continuous monitoring.

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“Our teams stop millions of suspicious reviews before they’re ever seen by customers, and this lawsuit goes a step further to uncover perpetrators operating on social media,” said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s vice president of selling partner services.

“Proactive legal action targeting bad actors is one of many ways we protect customers by holding bad actors accountable.”

Since 2020, Amazon has reported more than 10,000 fake review groups to Meta. Of these, Meta has taken down more than half of the groups for policy violations and continues to investigate others.

Amazon introduced reviews in 1995 to help customers make more informed shopping decisions.