Fake Online Reviews – How To Spot Them & How To Stop Them
Online reviews are a seriously useful resource for online shoppers. 53% of users find reviews and ratings to be the most important factor in their eCommerce experience.
Positive reviews build consumer trust, offer a direct line to real customer experiences, and help businesses rank higher on Google searches.
But you can’t always trust what you find online…
Fake online reviews are becoming increasingly common. Seemingly trustworthy sites like Amazon, eBay, Google Reviews and TripAdvisor can be plagued by false comments.
Whilst products and services may be backed by positive reviews, the truth is that many of these users are fake and their comments are fabricated.
This is particularly dangerous when consumers get tricked into downloading fraudulent programs and browser extensions. It’s an emerging practice used by cybercriminals to siphon personal information and financial details.
Luckily, online security is improving all the time – and winning the game against fake online reviews.
In this article, we deliver an overview of recent findings plus tips and tricks to stay safe online.
Table of contents
- Uncovering a Network of Fake Reviews
- The Evolution of Fake Online Reviews
- What Fake Reviews Mean For eCommerce Businesses
- 5 Ways To Spot a Fake Online Review
- Conclusion – How To Protect Your Business From Fake Online Reviews
Uncovering a Network of Fake Reviews
A recent groundbreaking investigation exposed a network of malicious browser extensions – spread by scores of fake accounts and fraudulent reviews.
KrebsonSecurity is the blog of security journalist and investigator Brian Krebs. The reporter tracked down a range of fraudulent browser extensions – backed by an extensive community of fake reviewers.
Having been alerted to a potentially harmful Microsoft Authenticator extension on the Google Chrome Store, Krebs decided to closely study the accounts leaving five-star reviews.
KrebsonSecurity found that these phony Google accounts were responsible for numerous fake reviews of other extensions, many of which had already been removed for malicious activity.
As Krebs looked further into this network of bogus extensions and fraudulent comments, he uncovered a systematic attempt to deceive users via fake reviews.
The result? Scores of imitation products were downloaded, leaving users vulnerable to cyberattacks.
The Evolution of Fake Online Reviews
Part of the reason this fake extension network was so deceptive was that it had disguised itself as consumer brands that people wouldn’t hesitate to trust and download.
These included Adobe, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and other reputable household names.
Despite many of these extensions having reviews that pointed to how dangerous they might be to download, some had remained on the store for a considerable length of time.
For instance, KrebsonSecurity found that fake Microsoft and CapCut extensions had stayed available for over two months, accumulating thousands of downloads from unwitting users.
After the user had installed these extensions, they would be prompted to enter their financial information, undoubtedly leading to fraudulent payments for some unlucky people.
The report highlights that fraudulent online practices are adapting and continuing to trick unsuspecting online shoppers and eCommerce users.
These bad actors are hiding in plain sight – posing as reputable brands and authentic reviewers.
What Fake Reviews Mean For eCommerce Businesses
It’s no secret that fake online reviews hurt Australian businesses.
Online reviews are such an important resource for consumers…
90% of online shoppers read online reviews before purchasing a product.
Products with 5-star reviews have a purchase likelihood of 270% more than with products with no reviews.
These are big numbers – representing an even bigger problem for eCommerce businesses.
KrebsonSecurity highlights just how pervasive and coordinated fake online reviews can be. And in a world where it’s simple to buy thousands of positive Amazon ratings, learning how to spot a fake online review is essential.
5 Ways To Spot a Fake Online Review
1) Extreme Reactions
Keep an eye out for extreme responses. We all know it’s uncommon to have a completely positive or negative experience of a product. The truth is that most purchases generate a mix of good and bad reactions. 100% and 0% reviews are likely trying to skew the overall rating of the product.
2) Poor Quality Writing
If a review is extremely negative, coupled with typos, foreign words, and bad spelling and grammar, then be on your guard. Caps and exclamation points are often used to disguise a fake story with strong emotion. Don’t be fooled.
3) Short Length
The longer the story the more chances to slip up and make a mistake. For this reason, fake reviews are often some of the shortest. Look for reviews with longer content and more personal, subjective experiences. They’re usually more trustworthy.
4) Other Reviews
Check the past comments of the reviewer and see what they’re up to elsewhere. A real account will have a range of reviews and a variety of experiences and ratings. Fake reviews will often be 100% positive or negative. Do some digging and you’ll find the truth.
5) Check the Rest
The reality is that fake online reviews are increasingly common. It’s likely you’ll encounter some on any product. So, read a comprehensive range of comments and ratings. Whilst you may not be able to trust every single one in isolation, a good overview will tell a more dependable story.
Conclusion – How To Protect Your Business From Fake Online Reviews
The sad truth is that fake online reviews are a growing cause for concern among online shoppers and eCommerce businesses. Whilst your customers need to be smart, your business needs to be smarter.
Are fake accounts spamming you with negative comments and false reviews?
Instead of being the victim of a few bad actors, it’s time to get serious and protect your brand.
At First Page, we’ve developed a suite of unwanted content removal services.
We know how to erase the spam and boost your real reviews. It’s your ticket to immediate reputation repair.
Our digital marketing specialists are here to help. So, to begin a conversation about how our content removal and reputation management services can help your business, contact our team today.