Fake Reviews and Fraudulent Evidence Online

The rise in online shopping has brought with it a range of new business opportunities, both
for legitimate vendors and for fraudsters. Vendors who pay for fake reviews, and others
whose product descriptions contain false or misleading claims, are becoming more and more
frequent on e-commerce platforms. This has led to an increase in online investigations by
authorities and platform owners, and as a result, an online seller recently accused of
purchasing fake positive reviews of their products has been brought before the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission, representing the first case of its kind.                                                                               
Some vendors are making false claims regarding the benefits of using their products, but
statements about expected results from using a particular consumer good, especially health
and wealth related results, should be backed by scientific evidence. E-commerce platforms
are therefore taking steps towards protecting consumers by setting quality standards for
certain goods and reviewing the evidence provided by vendors.                                                                      
Another way fraudsters are seeking to deceive consumers is by manipulating legitimate,
positive seller reviews to entice buyers into purchasing counterfeit products. In order to
prevent this, online platforms must use advanced data mining techniques to discover
suspicious behaviour in the comments sections. Examples of such behavior include many
user accounts being created in a short space of time, comments being written at an
unrealistic speed, or comments containing certain keywords that give rise to suspicion.                                 
These online investigations are important measures in protecting legitimate brands as well
as consumers, and should be increased to match the efforts being made by the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission.


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