Want to buy a product on Amazon but confused between two? The easiest rescue that strikes all of our minds is to go through the customer reviews and ratings, right? What if those customer reviews were fake and the product is nothing that you expected it to be?
Answering a yes to all the above questions, the Federal Trade Commission brings its first case against using fake reviews to sell products online.
Here’s What happened..
Cure Encapsulations Inc., a New York City-based company, used to sell weight loss aid pills named “Quality Encapsulations Garcinia Cambogia” only on Amazon.
On October 8, 2014, Naftula Jacobwitz, owner of the company, sent an email to the “www.amazonverifiedreviews.com” operator to post favorable reviews, with the goal of increasing its 4.2 rating to 4.3, which he claimed was necessary in order to have sales. He wanted the product to “stay a five star”.
“www.amazonverifiedreviews.com” then posted a series of fake five-star reviews praising the pills. The praises according to FTC made false claims that the pills were a powerful appetite suppressant, caused weight loss of up to 20 pounds and blocked the formation of new fat cells.
What were the consequences?
The proposed settlement by FTC includes a judgment of $12.8 million, to be suspended upon payment of $50,000 by the company to the FTC and certain income tax obligations. They have been banned from making weight-loss, fat-blocking or disease-treatment claims for dietary supplements, food or drugs without reliable scientific evidence from clinical trials in humans.
Adding to that, they are also prohibited from making misrepresentation including fake reviews about endorsements. It must tell Amazon about the fake reviews and email customers who have bought the pills giving them information about FTC’s allegations.
“We welcome the FTC’s work in this area…. Even one inauthentic review is one too many. We have clear participation guidelines for both reviewers and selling partners and we suspend, ban, and take legal action on those who violate our policies”, said an Amazon spokesperson in a statement to The Verge.
Fake reviews are a major concern and must be taken care if on a priority. It keeps the customers blind to real information about the product. And at the end, the actual victims are the common masses who are forged by the positive reviews and ratings. Not only it is a complete waste of funds of the users but can also result in harmful health hazards.