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This article was published on September 14, 2015

How to spot fake reviews

How to spot fake reviews
Alon Gamzu
Story by

Alon Gamzu

Alon Gamzu is a co-founder of Roundforest, the developer of the E-commerce and big data technology behind Comparaboo. With a Bachelor’s of E Alon Gamzu is a co-founder of Roundforest, the developer of the E-commerce and big data technology behind Comparaboo. With a Bachelor’s of Engineering and a background in Machine Learning, Alon worked for Intel and Google. Since founding Roundforest in 2014, Alon has helped millions of users enjoy engaging products and technology, delivering big data in a clear and concise way.

When searching for information about a product that you want to buy, it is imperative to approach user reviews with caution – they are not always as they may seem. User reviews are fabricated perpetually!

Even though the government has cracked down on many companies that paid for good reviews, businesses have found alternative ways to influence their user reviews on the Web. Many organizations discount prices for consumers who agree to review their products, which often improves the rating system. Plenty of fraudulent review organizations have been stopped in their tracks, but there are a multitude of independent rogue reviewers that use freelancing websites to pitch their services. Additionally, scammers from smaller companies are largely off the radar, so their false reviews may be overlooked by lawsuits.

User reviews are not the only review tools that can be faked. Industry bloggers are sometimes paid off by sponsors or they innocently form relationships with others among the industry, and certain rankings may be bumped up higher than they deserve. Articles that appear first in a Web search might be sponsored by the seller, or they may simply interview industry elites or poll from their websites. It’s hard to tell when the top of a product review list genuinely reflects the best that is out there.


So what can consumers do to regain their power on the internet and pinpoint hidden agendas?

  1. Site Reputation

Peer-review websites need to keep the trust of their users. Companies’ deceptive practices have prompted peer-review sites to root out frauds. Fake user reviews that use marketing language or repeat the name of the product multiple times are flagged on reputable ecommerce websites. So are multiple reviews that have similar wording, users who review one manufacturer on all of its products, and users who use comments sections to promote products from rival manufacturers.

Yelp has started aggressively filtering fake reviews. Amazon similarly removes promoted and paid reviews, as well as showing if the reviewer has bought the product. TripAdvisor does not accept reviews that occur before a reservation or arrival at the hotel. As the majority of flagged reviews are removed and fraudulent users blocked, leftover reviews can be deemed trustworthy when read in the aggregate.

Also, the easier it is to add a review on the hosting site, the more likely the review will be from an actual customer. Real customers are not paid to supply reviews. When the process is made simple and direct by the hosting site, those who want to share their comments will be more likely to do so. A trustworthy hosting site will allow reviews only after an item’s purchase and arrival.

  1. Fraudulent Language

Despite reading multiple reviews, consumers should be aware of language commonly used in phony reviews. The New York Times posted a screenshot that illustrates common phrases found in fake reviews to be aware of, such as an excessive use of exclamation points. You can also input hotel reviews into a test pad called the Review Skeptic that tests for fraudulent reviews based on research from Cornell University.


  1. The Reviewer Profile

You can tell a lot by checking the reviewer’s profile. Peer-review sites that require sign in tend to make reviewer profiles clickable so that you can see their history. If the reviewer has primarily written glowing reviews for one manufacturer or promotes links to alternate products in negative reviews, move on.

Bear in mind that unethical sellers tend to post five star reviews for their own products and one star reviews for competitor products. If some reviews seem suspicious, careful consumers should examine only reviews between two and four stars to weed out the fakes.

Reliable reviewers leverage an e-commerce site’s return policy by buying multiple items and returning all but the most effective products within the permissible return period. These reviewers will likely provide trustworthy product reviews based on actual experience.

  1. The More Reviews the Merrier

Scan multiple reviews for trending comments so that you see things in the bigger picture. If no other consumers have rated a product on Amazon, buyers will depend on sponsored comments. But with each consumer rating, the sponsored comment loses its effect. Popular and well-received items tend to rack up more reviews, so you can use them as a foundation to compare newer items that are less critiqued.


Not only do automated technologies streamline productivity, but they are essential for objectivity when dealing with competing brands. Top products in a self-updating comparison tool are automatically supplanted by newer technologies, rather than strategically placed there by involved parties.

The bottom line is that you should easily be able to figure out if an item is a quality product or which companies have superior customer service without going through an exhaustive or misleading web experience. Combining several search techniques will let you out-think the phony reviews and put you ahead of the game. Innovative technologies simplify these pain points and are penetrating the market. Look for comparison tools that are unbiased yet create a tailored approach to the individual information seeker.

How do you decipher user reviews? Let us know in the comments below.

Read Next: Amazon has filed its first ever lawsuit over fake product reviews

Image credit: Shutterstock

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