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.