Monday December 17, 2018

How Scammers in China Manipulate Amazon and Its Shoppers

Scammers in China will do anything to move up the list of bestsellers on Amazon. They will attack other sellers on the eCommerce site with fake reviews by purchasing the competitor's products and then returning them with complaints. This will kill sales for weeks until Amazon realizes what is happening. They will even purchase their own products and then write fake reviews to boost their ratings on Amazon.

Then there are the websites that are dedicated to selling reviews for products on Amazon and other eCommerce websites. Some Amazon employees have been accused of accepting bribes, restoring banned accounts and leaking insider information to manufacturers seeking to move to the top of the Amazon bestsellers list. Amazon uses machine learning and other technology to combat the scammers and close loopholes in the system. But critics say that it just makes more loopholes as humans adapt to the latest ML algorithm.

Chinese sellers resort to a wide range of cunning techniques to manipulate product listings on Amazon and boost sales. WSJ's Jon Emont investigates their strategies and explains how consumers can detect sham listings. Image: Crystal Tai. Video: Clement Burge/WSJ