The Truth About Amazon fraud

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GobFather

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Update:1
It appears the whole article has been deleted. Not sure what happened but will keep you all updated

Original:

I found an article/image about a person's investigation into people making fraud companies to make millions on Amazon. I know a lot people shop at Amazon and thought it was a good PSA. (Although many already knew about it :p)

A quick summary:

A few Amazon Employees are gaming the system to form fake companies and sell products. The evidences showed a few different diet/protein/supplements companies are formed under the name of one person living at an address near Amazon's headquarters. He has even posted his girlfriend in a Doctor's outfit to verify as approved by a physician for another product. On top of this, he has made multiple accounts that give 5 star rating reviews to all his products and 1 star rating to all his competitor products. The person also asks the people who bought the products to give 5 star rating, and in return, a FREE product will be given. (ONLY 5 stars). People that claim, the products are a scam.. are being threatened with a lawsuit. http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/07/amazon-com-seller-asks-judge-to-unmask-negative-reviewers/ This person clearly knows the system, and would have gotten away because how many people are going to check as 'some of you' here do? They will look at reviews, they will see that his products are "Best Seller" on amazon, and etc. **it still says it**

Amazon needs to step up and protect.. the buyers but also other sellers.
Here is the first half of the article:

__________________________________________________
When a prominent Amazon seller explained to me the rampant fraud that happens on Amazon, it opened up the floodgates to an interesting investigation. He pulled up companies that were practicing obvious fraud, all while Amazon turned a blind eye.

According to some Amazon sellers, review fraud on Amazon is rampant and obvious, and it fools a lot of people into buying fraudulent products, all while making scam artists millions of dollars in the process.


For this investigation, this was the product line that kicked it all off for us.

I know your first thought... it's a magic pill fat burner, of course they're full of crap. But that would be missing the point. This is happening in all different industries, it was just so blatantly obvious here that I decided to focus on this.


This has been the top selling fat loss supplement on Amazon for the past year. It's safe to assume they've sold tens of thousands of bottles.

Take a look at their reviews. A TON of 5 stars, plus a good amount of 1 stars,but overwhelmingly still 5's. Over the past 6 months, many more people have caught onto the practices and posted about it with 1 star reviews, but previously it was almost all 5 stars.

What initially threw up red flags on this listing is how quickly it shot to the top. Gaining hundreds and eventually thousands of unverified 5 star reviews at an incredible rate. At the same time, many of the other top sellers began getting hit with unverified 1 star reviews.


I could find nothing about UberVita selling anywhere except Amazon, and their history there was very young.

So, I started looking into who is behind UberVita. It's owned by a man named Sam Keeler living a couple hours from Seattle, in Manson, WA.

This is important for a few reasons, which I'll tie in over the next couple images.


It was hard to find much information on Sam, but here's something interesting. There apparetly is/was an employee at Amazon by the name of Sam Keeler.

This could be complete coincidence. But the Sam Keeler that owns UberVita very clearly knows what he's doing and it appears he has very extensive knowledge of the Amazon system. Could this be knowledge gained from being an employee?


Again, it could be a complete coincidence, but here's one of the addresses we found tied to a company owned by the same Sam Keeler from UberVita.

As you can see, it's just a short drive from the Amazon office in Seattle.


Looking into the reviews, there was a common theme. Many of the reviewers that left glowing reviews for UberVita had also left glowing reviews for products from a company called Eden Pond, and had left not a single other review.

I was already familiar with Eden Pond Labs because that was one of the companies we found while investigating Sam Keeler.

Now, it was time to look in to Eden Pond Labs.


___there's more____
The rest can be found here:

Source: https://imgur.com/gallery/OmIsA

Lock if old or source isn't legit.
 

Shuggananas

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Dec 10, 2014
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Yeah that's not big news

Also people buying horseshit like this are the most likely to fall for scams, so it's well targeted
 

Ether_Snake

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Dec 2, 2006
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Amazon should not accept reviews of unverified purchases.
 
Jul 17, 2013
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Eh, interesting but I was hoping for something more novel than juiced reviews. Amazon employees exploiting their system on the side is pretty interesting, should have gone into more investigative reporting there.
 

GobFather

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Fake reviews have been around longer than amazon
Yes, it's true. I just wanted for people to be aware because it's not just fake reviews. But fake reviews that help these fake companies make millions and fake reviews that negatively review companies to hurt their competitor's sales. Amazon.. like Yelp, there are many people/users (that are not aware) skip low rating company products and 'trust' higher rating companies... especially if there are ENOUGH reviews on it.

I don't really know the best method or a solution because i heard even verified reviews can be fake since, your review still counts even if you return all the items.

:/
 

Madness

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Jan 1, 2013
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Amazon should not accept reviews of unverified purchases.
Why? They worked fine for so long. It's very easy to weed out the poor reviews or the ones which are devoid of any critical or rational though etc. Reviews should ultimately be a guide to a purchase, who cares whether someone has bought the product or not. I've shared my thoughts on various products that I have or have used, but have not necessarily bought from Amazon.

This is a new problem that affects everything from app store and Google play, to various websites. People buy positive reviews, there are places in China that use hundreds of devices to post favorable comments etc.
 

Aiii

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Jan 5, 2012
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This entire article and all I can think about how it's weird he didn't just call his company Overlife instead of Ubervita.

You know, because of the obvious overdrive tie-in. Perhaps it was taken.
 

Stereogatari

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Oct 1, 2014
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Amazon should not accept reviews of unverified purchases.
Unless I'm remembering wrong this is on a country basis. In the UK I want to say that you can only review something if you've bought it...

Although it must be said that such a system would still be open to abuse of course...
 

GobFather

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Eh, interesting but I was hoping for something more novel than juiced reviews. Amazon employees exploiting their system on the side is pretty interesting, should have gone into more investigative reporting there.
I think the author mentioned that he/she wanted the media to investigate further but I thought it was interesting that a lot of companies were under the Amazon employee name and a few under his girlfriend's name..... and one address.
 

alterno69

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Is it fraud if people are getting the product they paid for?

People should pay more attention to what they buy.
 

GobFather

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this, i'll never understand why any random ass can just post reviews without actually buying from them. they also allow people to post reviews for unreleased products. what a joke.
yeah this doesn't make sense at all.
 

SURGEdude

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this, i'll never understand why any random ass can just post reviews without actually buying from them. they also allow people to post reviews for unreleased products. what a joke.
Agreed. I get why they do it, but the positives are outweighed by the negatives.
 

marrec

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Everyone's looking around at each other and being all like "Duh reviews can be fake, Amazon didn't invent the fake review" and we can all be safe in the knowledge that we won't get scammed by fake reviews but there's some amount of people out there who will buy this product based on the seemingly satisfied customer base and they will have to find out the hard way.

Especially when selling unverified supplements that could potentially be harmful to your health, Amazon NEEDS to step up and police these kinds of products in a much more proactive way or they're going to have a big problem later.
 

sangreal

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The real fraud on Amazon is the rampant counterfeiting masked by the Fulfilled By Amazon program. They pool similar products from multiple vendors together, so if you buy from legit company A, Fullfilled By Amazon you might actually get something from shady company B, Fulfilled by Amazon

There is an option available for merchants to avoid this, but you can't tell as a buyer
 

mackattk

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I used to trust Amazon reviews, but over the past 2-3 years I have found them to be largely unreliable. Between things like this and people getting paid to write fake 5 star (or 1 star) reviews, it just isn't a good source of information anymore.
 

GobFather

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Everyone's looking around at each other and being all like "Duh reviews can be fake, Amazon didn't invent the fake review" and we can all be safe in the knowledge that we won't get scammed by fake reviews but there's some amount of people out there who will buy this product based on the seemingly satisfied customer base and they will have to find out the hard way.

Especially when selling unverified supplements that could potentially be harmful to your health, Amazon NEEDS to step up and police these kinds of products in a much more proactive way or they're going to have a big problem later.
This is so true. Fake reviews have always existed but it doesn't mean, we shouldn't be aware of it or continue to warn others....and push Amazon to make the review system better.

I used to trust Amazon reviews, but over the past 2-3 years I have found them to be largely unreliable. Between things like this and people getting paid to write fake 5 star (or 1 star) reviews, it just isn't a good source of information anymore.
Yeah, I am using it less and less. Anything larger than $50, I've been using more reputable places... even if it's slightly more expensive. Atleast I'm confident it's the product I wanted.
 

styl3s

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Why? They worked fine for so long. It's very easy to weed out the poor reviews or the ones which are devoid of any critical or rational though etc. Reviews should ultimately be a guide to a purchase, who cares whether someone has bought the product or not. I've shared my thoughts on various products that I have or have used, but have not necessarily bought from Amazon.

This is a new problem that affects everything from app store and Google play, to various websites. People buy positive reviews, there are places in China that use hundreds of devices to post favorable comments etc.
Why not? It stops people (or at least the majority) from trolling or making 100 accounts to inflate a review. You shouldn't be allowed to review something you haven't bought.
 

DietRob

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If Amazon is going to continue to accept unverified reviews it should give users the option to filter them out. At the very least. I personally only want to see reviews from people who bought the thing on Amazon.
 

mackattk

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This and Amazon Vine reviews are the worst.
Amazon Vine reviews are overwhelmingly 4 - 5 star reviews. Even if the average is 3 stars. Yeah if I get a free product that was worth $300 I would be pretty damn happy too and give it a high rating.
 

NealMcCauley

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Damn, read the whole thing and it's sketchy as hell; the end of the article said Amazon partnered with UberVita.
 

Starwolf_UK

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Amazon should not accept reviews of unverified purchases.
At the same time a lot of these reviews (both the positive ones for the companies products and negatived ones for their competitors) were verified so that does help solve the problem.

The real fraud on Amazon is the rampant counterfeiting masked by the Fulfilled By Amazon program. They pool similar products from multiple vendors together, so if you buy from legit company A, Fullfilled By Amazon you might actually get something from shady company B, Fulfilled by Amazon

There is an option available for merchants to avoid this, but you can't tell as a buyer
The problem here is any feedback hits company A. I remember someone who basically went bankcrupt over when 10s of thousands of DVDs they had couldn't be sold as Amazon had shut his account due to countfeit goods and court cases he wasn't told about. It was then either pay up to keep the items in the warehouse, pay up to destroy the items or pay up to get them back.

As a seller you have to be afraid.

Damn, read the whole thing and it's sketchy as hell; the end of the article said Amazon partnered with UberVita.
As in Ubervita pays money to Amazon and in return Amazon keep their products in the warehouse, will send them out too (taking advantafge of amazon prime etc) and will keep or destroy such products if their account gets in trouble. Which could be very soon if enough people have forwarded that to jeff@amazon.com or whatever the e-mail is. Losing a tonne of merchandise is the kind of thing that can sink this.
 

GobFather

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At the same time a lot of these reviews (both the positive ones for the companies products and negatived ones for their competitors) were verified so that does help solve the problem.
Isn't one of the flaws for "verified buyer" is that you can give a review, then return it. And it will still say "verified buyer"?

The second problem is that, the company would give you a FREE product, if you give them 5 stars. One would wonder, if people are easily bribed to give 5 stars due to this. **In the source, you can see the person ordering it, and getting offers for their FREE products, if you give 5 stars and 5 stars ONLY.


As in Ubervita pays money to Amazon and in return Amazon keep their products in the warehouse, will send them out too (taking advantafge of amazon prime etc) and will keep or destroy such products if their account gets in trouble. Which could be very soon if enough people have forwarded that to jeff@amazon.com or whatever the e-mail is. Losing a tonne of merchandise is the kind of thing that can sink this.
who is Jeff at amazon? Thanks in advance.
 

Fuchsdh

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I thought this was going to be about people buying products off Amazon and then attempting to defraud the sellers out of the product and the money they paid for it, which is also apparently a big issue that hurts sellers on Amazon.

It makes sense that Amazon and eBay are designed to best protect the buyer, but it does leave the system open to being gamed by unscrupulous people.

But yeah the ratings thing will always be an issue, unless you do something like force the reviews to be from Amazon purchasers (sort of like how NewEgg prominently focuses on the people who actually bought it from their site.)

Isn't one of the flaws for "verified buyer" is that you can give a review, then return it. And it will still say "verified buyer"?
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I think so. But I'd need to check. I rarely buy random sketchy products off Amazon so I'm fairly well-insulated, but especially for things like cables I know there's a bunch of no-name people out there who try and get you.
 

DoktorEvil

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Is it fraud if people are getting the product they paid for?
People should pay more attention to what they buy.
"Man, those Lumbar Liquidators shoppers are so stupid to shop at a place where formaldehyde is in such high levels in their wood. People should pay more attention to what they buy."

Nice job blaming the customer and not the corporate entity.

What the article address is the Amazon employee gaming the Amazon system to peddle some "diet pills" that god knows what could be in it.

https://imgur.com/gallery/OmIsA

Scroll down and read the 1 star reviews.
 

GobFather

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I think so. But I'd need to check. I rarely buy random sketchy products off Amazon so I'm fairly well-insulated, but especially for things like cables I know there's a bunch of no-name people out there who try and get you.
yes, please updates us. I am not 100% on it. :) Thanks!
 

GobFather

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EDIT: sorry Double Post, but I felt it was important :p

There is another product that needs attention:
Dr. Danielle products.. all perfect 5 stars.

http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Danielle-Lipoic-Extremely-Quality/dp/B00JQPOOA2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1425405517&sr=8-3&keywords=doctor+danielle


What's crazy is... LOOK at the photo of Dr. Danielle Saunders on the bottle at the amazon link....

NOW, here is a close up:



OK, now let's compare to the original



O_____O;

Oh, I know that name because I found another company tied to Sam Keeler's home address.

This one is owned by Dr. Danielle Saunders, however (same owner from Spyder Nutrition). Looking into Dr Danielle, I found the exact same pattern of extreme surges to the top and very suspicious review patterns.

Who is Dr. Danielle?

Turns out, it's Sam Keeler's girlfriend. Looks like he's teaching her every he knows.
 

Casimir

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Jul 16, 2012
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This isn't a rebuttal to the attempt to get Amazon to protect it's customers from fraud, but as another point, Herbal supplements are pretty much just fraudulent products. There is no scientific proof they will benefit you. And because the supplement market follows what libertarians promote as their ideal type of regulatory atmosphere, i.e. no to little regulation, they often don't contain meaningful amounts or even any amount of whatever ingredient they list and promote. But they may contain substances known to be harmful.
 
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