Amazon spent the past couple of years cracking down on fake product reviews, but enterprising tricksters are exploiting a fresh loophole on its site.
Many of the same vendors who sold fake positive reviews on Amazon for $5 a pop are now selling so called “list optimization” or “list maintenance” services, in which they enlist hundreds of people to vote a product review as helpful so that it moves up to the top of a product’s page.
But the votes can also be used to sabotage a competitor, voting up negative reviews of rival products and tanking demand for goods that previously had been well-received, sources told The Post.
“This is an evolution of an existing problem,” said Nii Ahene, co-founder of CPC Strategy, a San Diego-based online consulting firm. “Sellers are negatively influencing their competitors, but at the end of the day it’s a policing problem that Amazon has to address.”
Amazon says its technology can detect this scam.
“We have machine-learned processes to detect inauthentic customer insights including the manipulation of helpful votes and will ban vendors, sellers and reviewers who are found to be out of compliance with our policies,” Amazon told The Post in an e-mailed statement.
Nevertheless, vendors for vote manipulation aren’t hard to find.
Early Friday, the site Thesocialmarketeers.org was advertising multiple packages, including the sale of 1,000 “yes” votes from “real verified users” that are “delivered within 48 to 72 hours” for $360.
After being contacted by The Post about its Amazon services on Friday morning, Thesocialmarketeers.org had scrubbed them all from its site by the early afternoon. Instead, it advertised services to increase followers on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram — for a fee, of course.
Other vendors find clients by spamming Amazon merchants. One of them contacted The Post through an e-mail account, firstname.lastname@example.org, promising “good and quality english reviews with photo…