But after that dozens of fake 5-star reviews instantly appeared all with a similar glowing theme and a high percentage of the same words. Obviously writers had not even visited the hotel! The result – all the one-star reviews were pushed off the front page to be buried on page seven!
Second, we used Fakespot to analyse the Bluetooth Scales mentioned earlier. Out of nearly 6,000 Amazon reviews all posted in Q1, 2019, it stated 99% were suspect and had an F-grade for fail. Amazon has removed over 3,000 reviews for this product since June.
Reviews are vital – Over 90% of GadgetGuy readers say they would purchase an item based on our review (credibility).
Australian research shows
- 91% consult reviews or ratings before making a big-ticket purchase.
- 84% of consumers trust product reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- 80% of consumers have changed their mind about a product based on NEGATIVE information – they want the truth, good or bad.
- 63% of consumers purchase from an e-commerce site that has product ratings and reviews.
- The overwhelming percentage of reviews are positive and unverifiable (fake)
It is so easy for companies to buy volumes of fake reviews from review factories. It is equally easy for companies to buy negative fake reviews for competitors’ products.
From a review perspective, we revealed the scourge of the internet where over 90% of the reviews (we suspect it is far higher) are fake – not from genuine buyers.
But more importantly, recently a fake review factory in the Philippines was shut down – an estimated 60,000 ‘writers’ out of a job. The scam involved giving reviewers a unique ‘code’ to purchase goods on Amazon (setting them up as a verified buyer). But the codes also means the merchants never ship the products! Tens of thousands of fake reviews were generated. Amazon says fake reviews are not allowed but common sense says otherwise.
It is similar to the Chinese fake review factories that desperately plead with Western media to do reviews on everything. We get hundreds of poorly written requests to review Chinese made tech every week – sorry no! We also get hundreds of requests to publish so-called independent reviews and articles on our site – ditto!
Fake reviews are everywhere – travel, accommodation, tours, restaurants, shops – anything you buy.
Forbes has an excellent article on the Chinese scams here.
Rule 6: Reviews are vital but make sure you look at different sources rather than rely on e-commerce site reviews. Look for reviews from independent sources.
Scams – one involving GadgetGuy’s good name
In December we started getting calls from people who had bought items from GadgetGuy – but we don’t sell anything! Our investigations are not complete, but it appears that our website was scrapped (cloned) by an Asian cybercriminal and a fake e-commerce site set up to rip off customers. Fortunately, the web-hoster shut it down very quickly but here is the kicker – read what the perpetrators said (sic) when we tracked it back
- We do not offer identical copy of Gadgetguy.com.au.
- We do not offer source code of Gadgetguy.com.au.
- We are not (in anyway) associated to Gadgetguy.com.au.
- Our services (website design/ development) are not endorsed by Gadgetguy.com.au.
- This page features information already in public domain.
Rule 7: Read how to spot a fake website
The Rise of Fake News
Then you have poor Jennifer Dudley-Nicolson, respected Courier-Mail (NewsCorp) IT journalist who is supposed to be endorsing Samsung Galaxy S10 phones for $3. The link to the Facebook scam is here (and in case it ends up behind NewsCorps paywall here are some details).
Basically, the fake article widely posted on Facebook purports to be written by Jennifer championing the deal as part of a ‘marketing strategy’ to artificially inflate Samsung’s popularity over Apple. Readers are encouraged to click a link to ‘claim their offer’, which leads to a copied (cloned) Samsung website that extracts their name, address, phone number, email address and their credit card details to pay for the $3 phone. Wave goodbye to your money and identity.
Now I know a few of these bloggers (basically anyone that does not have journalist training and does not abide by the Journalist Code of Ethics) and they have no shame in lying about products or companies as long as they get money. They regularly tell porkies and break that at least four fundamentals of the code.
- Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence.
- Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.
- Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence.
- Do your utmost to ensure disclosure of any direct or indirect payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories.
Rule 8: An oldie but a goodie – if it is too good to be true, then it probably is.
The rise of ID theft
Not a day goes by that I don’t get phishing emails (some remarkably good) or someone tries to scam me by phone, SMS even snail mail.
Last year my aged Aunt was within a bee’s whisper of ID Theft when cybercriminals got control of her Telstra account. They dumpster-dived to get a hard copy of the phone bill, sent her a letter on Telstra letterhead asking her to call a fake 1800 number urgently or her phone would be cut off. They asked for her Drivers Licence number and DOB as ID ‘evidence”. All that was required to take over her account – and they did.