Amazon has deleted 20,000 reviews written by its top 10 reviewers after it was revealed that some appear to be receiving free products in exchange for five-star feedback.
One such reviewer, Justin Fryer, who was found to have given five-star reviews on average once every four hours, seemed to then go on to sell the same products on eBay.
In August alone he reviewed £15,000 worth of products including smartphones, electric scooters and gym equipment.
Mr Fryer then seemingly sold many of the same products on eBay, making almost £20,000.
The investigation, done by The Financial Times, found that the majority of the products were from small Chinese brands – who in the past have been known to send free items to reviewers for positive feedback.
Justin Fryer, who was found to have given five-star reviews on average once every four hours, seemed to then go on to sell the same products on eBay
Online review analysis group, Fakespot, estimates that 58 per cent of products on the UK site had seemingly fake reviews in May
When contacted by the FT, Mr Fryer denied posting any reviews which had been paid for but then proceeded to delete his review history from his profile page.
He added that products he sold on eBay which were listed as ‘unopened’ were duplicates.
Six other top 10-ranked Amazon UK reviewers also deleted their review history.
The FT found that nine of Amazon UK’s current top 10 reviewers were dabbling in suspicious behaviour and the majority of five-star reviews were for Chinese products from unknown brands.
Investigators then found many of the same items in forums which offered free products in exchange for reviews.
Amazon itself was forced to take action on Friday and deleted 20,000 of its reviews.
Amazon has said it will investigate the recent findings and that is suspends, bans and sues people who flout its rules (file photo)
The Competition and Markets Authority launched a probe into suspicious online store reviews in May.
The UK watchdog estimates that such reviews influence £23billion worth of shopping in the country every year.
A spokesman told the FT: ‘We will not hesitate to take further action if we find evidence that the stores aren’t doing what’s required under the law.’
Online review analysis group, Fakespot, estimates that 58 per cent of products on the UK site had seemingly fake reviews in May.
The company’s chief executive, Saoud Khalifah, told the FT: ‘The scale of this fraud is amazing and Amazon UK has a much higher percentage of fake reviews than other platforms.’
Amazon has said it will investigate the recent findings and that is suspends, bans and sues people who flout its rules.
A spokesman said: ‘We want Amazon customers to shop with confidence, knowing that the reviews they read are authentic and relevant.’
However, the company was told of Mr Fryer’s suspicious activity since early August when one user emailed CEO Jeff Bezos directly when his initial complaints were ignored.
While some of Mr Fryer’s reviews were removed, no other action was taken.
On August 13 Mr Fryer was found to have sold an electric scooter for £485.99, just one week after posting a review of the same item on Amazon in which he described it as ‘hands down my favourite toy’.
Mr Fryer has said that eBay listings he makes are using duplicate products and denied that he was given free products in exchange for positive reviews.