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Amazon sues several web sites for 'phony' reviews

Amazon is suing several websites it says offer fake, positive reviews of products that are for sale on its own site. The sites targeted in the lawsuit include buyamazonreviews.com and buyazonreviews.com.

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Amazon is suing several websites it says offer fake, positive reviews of products that are for sale on its own site.

The lawsuit, filed in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, demands the websites stop the practice, which Amazon says deceives customers and gives an unfair advantage over other sellers who aren’t trying to game the system.

“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 says, according to the Seattle Times.

The sites targeted in the lawsuit include buyamazonreviews.com and buyazonreviews.com.  

The suit names Jay Gentile, of California, as owner of buyazonreviews.com. The paper says he did not respond to a request for comment.

But Mark Collins, owner of buyamazonreviews.com, defended the practice.

“We are not selling fake reviews. however we do provide Unbiased and Honest reviews on all the products,” Collins wrote in an email to the Times. “And this is not illegal at all.”

His site promises customers that they “can have unlimited 4 and 5 star reviews this week.”

“Our skilled writers look at your product, look at your competitor’s products and then write state of the art reviews that will be sure to generate sales for you,” it further states.

On the crowded Amazon e-commerce landscape, it can be difficult for some products to get noticed. The site’s algorithm gives priority to products that have received multiple reviews and even more clout if those reviews are from users who are active on the site.

The lawsuit says the websites sell reviews for $19 to $22 per review.

It accuses them of of trademark infringement, false advertising and violations of the Anticyber­squatting Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act. The suit says the sites use Amazon’s name and logo illegally, as well as having names confusingly similar to Amazon’s own.

The suit, filed Wednesday, is believed to be the first time Amazon has gone after purportedly fake reviews in court.

An Amazon spokeswoman told the paper that it does not comment on pending legal action.

Doug Gross is a staff writer covering personal finance for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @doug_gross and on Google+.

Image via iStock.

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