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Open database exposes massive Amazon review scam

Reviews can be quite helpful for determining whether or not a product is right for you. You can get the pros, cons, defects and more from people who have personal experience with the item.

Amazon prominently displays its most highly rated listings, making it a no-brainer when you’re shopping on the site. But is it really so simple? The truth is that these reviews cannot always be trusted. Tap or click here to read about how hundreds of thousands of product reviewers were caught in a scam.

With countless available listings and new ones popping up every second, Amazon’s marketplace is ripe for crooked behavior. Yet another fake review scam recently surfaced containing millions of records showing how the operators pulled it off. We have details and tips for you to spot fake reviews.

You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours

A cybersecurity team from Safety Detectives came across a server filled with incriminating information. It revealed that Amazon vendors had a scam going on with reviewers. The vendor would send them a list of items for which they want a 5-star review. The reviewers then buy the products and leave a glowing review a few days after receiving them.

Following this, the reviewers send a message to the vendors with their Amazon account and PayPal info. When the vendor sees that the reviews were completed as requested, they refund the reviewer through PayPal and let them keep the items as compensation.

The numbers

More than 13 million records totaling 7GB of data were found containing messages between vendors and reviewers. This data contained messages with personal information such as vendors’ email addresses and WhatsApp and Telegram phone numbers. The reviewers had their Amazon accounts, PayPal accounts, email addresses and usernames exposed.

How to spot fake reviews

There are ways to weed out fake reviews to make an informed decision about a product. Tap or click here for some tips on spotting review scams.

Here’s a breakdown you can take along with you:

  • Watch for bad spelling and grammar.
  • If a review is gushing about a product, it’s a red flag.
  • A bunch of positive reviews left in a short time? Be suspicious.
  • Is the review vague and not referring to any specific product? It’s probably fake.
  • Fakespot is a free Chrome extension that can take the guesswork out of fake reviews for you. Check it out at
  • ReviewMeta filters the fluff from reviews, leaving you with the bare essentials. Go to to get the extension.

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