I guess people realise that you can't rely on Amazon reviews. You just can't be sure that they are genuine. A recent development confirms this assessment.
The people who sell on Amazon through associate agreements want to improve the ratings of their items by Amazon. The ratings are based upon reviews i.e. how many five star reviews the item receives. The fact that the reviewer is verified is important. Verified reviewers are those that have actually bought the product.
In order to achieve five-star reviews from verified reviewers, these businesses are setting up fake purchases using stolen data. They steal the data of American citizens and on their behalf they purchase the items that they are manufacturing and selling.
In doing this, they set up an account on behalf of that person i.e. the recipient. The recipient is completely unaware of what is going on and they receive unwanted goods like seeds, whistles, sunglasses and socks. A five star review is written on behalf of the unwitting recipient.
It is reported in The Times newspaper that businesses are advertising on Facebook for people to write fake reviews at a price. It is the trade in fake Amazon reviews which Facebook promised a crackdown on but apparently are not. The magazine/online website Which? found that Facebook are failing to stop it. It's called a "fake review factory". Facebook told the Competition and Markets Authority in January that it would install systems to detect and remove this sort of content.
Apparently you can find this trade on Facebook by searching for "Amazon review". There are several Facebook groups dealing in these reviews and across them there are at least 82,000 posts a month. Often these posts are from agents offering refunds and commission free products in exchange for the reviews. It is not only on Amazon that these fake reviews are written. Fake and misleading reviews are illegal under UK consumer protection law.
Which? said that over the preceding year there had been no change in the amount of trading on Facebook with respect to fake reviews. The average number of posts in individual groups are up to 5600 over a 30 day period.
The worrying aspect of this is, of course, it is a scam and online scams of varying types are a rapidly developing phenomenon on in the West and probably elsewhere. The other worrying aspect is that the scammers have acquired the personal data of Americans. We know that there have been many computer hacks leading to the acquisition of personal contact details and it is quite likely that these details are being used in this way in this instance.
The receipt of seeds by unwitting recipients in America has baffled them. People all over the US started to receive small parcels of seeds from China. At one time people thought that this was part of a Cold War. Perhaps they were sending invasive species into America to destroy America's nature; to propagate plant diseases but no, it appears that it is simply an Amazon scam.
FYI - another Amazon scam is to inadvertently get people to pay an Amazon prime subscription at an inflated price. These people receive scammy phone calls often generated by computer systems to trick them into paying an Amazon prime subscription but not at the usual rate but one which is a hundred times larger (799 rather than 7.99). Be aware of telephone scams by people referring to Amazon prime subscriptions. Never get involved with those. Put the phone down immediately. You might like to contact Amazon if you can to report it. I am sure that they are aware of it but the more reports they get the better.