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How to Spot Fake Amazon Reviews


If you’ve bought enough stuff from Amazon, you may have been duped once or twice. That’s because fake Amazon reviews are big business.

It is also a big headache for consumers. Every time we buy a dud of a fake five-star product, we become more and more wary of buying products from Amazon in the future, even those that truly deserve high ratings. The company makes it easy to return items, but if something goes 31 days after you buy it, you’re often left to deal directly with an untrustworthy seller.

While there are several ways to outsmart unscrupulous sellers – searching for product reviews outside of Amazon, examining seller history, reading every word of every review from newest to oldest with a magnifying glass – it becomes terribly tedious.

With that in mind, here are two simple checks I use every time I buy something on Amazon. Neither take very long and both seem to paint a reasonably clear picture of any product I might consider.

It’s a numbers game

If a product does not have many reviews and if the reviews it Is seemed overwhelmingly positive, maybe something weird is brewing. Consider the list below.

Not to pick on this particular unidentified product – to be fair, it might be unbelievable – but it has three written reviews that use the word “love” a combined total of five times.

One review calls it “better than described” and another enthusiastically regurgitates all the marketing messaging selling points.

Life in the two- to four-star range tends to be pretty decent.

Oh, and the titles of the three reviews: There’s “Love it” and of course “Great product” and then we tear down with “Fun for the whole family!” Very funny!”

And finally, note that two of the reviews have the “Verified Purchase” tag next to them. This means that Amazon can attest that the person who reviewed this thing actually purchased it from Amazon. Two of the reviews have this tag, but the one that doesn’t have a user-submitted photo of the device.

A cynic might wonder if the company purchased two of its own devices in order to submit “Verified Purchase” reviews, and then submitted another review with a homemade photo of the device to make it look like a legitimate review.

So, red flags abound here. Again: not that this product is not Absolutely the greatest of its kind – and legitimate reviews – but it’s a risky proposition.

Also, be sure to check the exam dates. The oldest here is from October 2021, meaning this product has been out for almost a year but only has three reviews.

Honesty lives in the middle of the road

For products that have substantially more than three reviews, I like to discard all five-star reviews because these can be purchased, submitted by the company, or simply posted by overzealous wackadoos. And I like to toss all one-star reviews because these can be submitted by competitors, malcontents, or overzealous wackadoos.

But life in the two- to four-star range tends to be pretty honest.

To filter reviews this way, scroll down to the reviews section of a particular product and you’ll notice a simple “See all reviews >” link under the lowest review. This is where the magic happens.

Click on it and you will be taken to a product review page. Here there is a sorting and filtering function that you can use to see only two, three and four star reviews.

So this specimen here has about 100 reviews. Five-star reviews contain many superlatives, exclamation points, the word “love”, and family stories.

The one-star reviews seem a bit more genuine, but generally angry, so let’s be fair and toss them since we’re also throwing the five-star reviews.

Checking only the two-, three-, and four-star reviews, a pretty clear picture emerges of the first handful. This is a console for playing retro video games and just about every reviewer in the two to four star range complains that the game controllers feel cheaply made and/or don’t work with some games.

So there you have it: a decent retro console with unexceptional controllers. Probably not worth its $100 asking price.