In April, Amazon sued several Web “entrepreneurs” whom it accused of offering fake reviews for sale. Now, the online retailer took a major new step in its legal fight to cleanse itself of bogus reviews—suing 1,114 John Doe reviewers who sold their reviews on the website Fiverr.
The complaint (PDF), filed Friday in King County Superior Court, shows that Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.
“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”