How To Spot Sketchy Fake Ratings on Amazon & Avoid Scammers

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Whether you love it or hate it, most people find themselves browsing the wares at Amazon whenever they need essentials or those “just for fun” items. 


Amazon is a massive online retailer, and when shoppers are presented with hundreds of matches to their product search, it helps to have the reviews of other users. 

The only problem is that many of those reviews are fake. In fact, there are businesses that sell on Amazon that contract with people who are willing to post phony, five-star reviews of their product. Unfortunately, all of those glowing reviews lead unsuspecting consumers to buy these products too, frequently to their regret.

This subterfuge is made possible because the vast majority of the products on Amazon are sold through its Marketplace program. This is used by third-party sellers who may sell anything and everything. It often is the third-party sellers who entice people to leave fake reviews for their products, as they know that the more highly-rated reviews they rack up, the more sales they get.

Amazon tries to protect buyers from these tactics. Rules are established that restrict third-party vendors from paying or otherwise motivating people by providing free products. Unfortunately, these restrictions are not deterrents to many sellers. Some of them coordinate their efforts on Facebook or other social media platforms in an attempt to evade detection by Amazon.


Facebook and other social media channels also have rules prohibiting fake reviews, and many of them have partnered with Amazon to quash this practice. Amazon has even taken legal steps, such as suing the administrators of thousands of Facebook groups, each of which is accused of coordinating fake reviews on Amazon.

Unfortunately, this is a never-ending cycle. As soon as Amazon identifies and takes down a bad actor, others crop up in its place. This means that it’s up to the consumer to learn how to spot sketchy Amazon ratings so that they don’t waste their money.

Tips for Spotting Fake Amazon Ratings

It’s never a good idea to quickly buy the first item on Amazon that appears to meet your requirements and has tons of five-star reviews. If you want to be certain that you’re getting a legitimate product that meets your needs, it’s essential that you do some detective work.

Admittedly, this means that it will take longer for you to make your purchase, but the extra time invested is worth it. You are more likely to get a product that you’ll use and enjoy instead of one that you’ll want to return.

Here’s a rundown on some of the most glaring hints that a product is being boosted by fake reviews:

  • All five-star reviews: Be suspicious of any product that has only five-star reviews, especially if there are hundreds or thousands of them. No product is that perfectly suited to all shoppers. A product with legitimate reviews has a mix of four star and fewer reviews.
  • False negatives: As you’re looking at a product, filter the customer reviews so that you can look at the one-star reviews. It’s not unusual for some third-party sellers to solicit false negative reviews on the products of their competitors. Some one-star reviews may be legitimate, especially if they repeatedly refer to the same problems. Hence, it’s a good idea to examine these reviews, but take them with a grain of salt.
  • Generic praise: It is the more detailed reviews that talk about using the product for the first time and its performance that are the most likely to be legitimate. Be wary of any reviews that just say “great product” or “awesome.” These no-effort reviews are more likely to be fake. Who takes the time to log in to their Amazon account just to say “awesome” on a product review? The answer is someone who is being paid to do so.
  • Mentioning competing products: This one can be deceptive, as consumers do occasionally try a competing product only to come back and buy something else. Still, this is relatively rare, so whenever you see a review that talks about how product B is superior to product A, it’s best to be suspicious.
  • Questionable spelling and grammar: In these days of using your smartphone to do everything, it’s easy enough to introduce the occasional spelling error into a review. However, if a review contains numerous such mistakes, it can be a sign that someone is being less than honest about the product.
  • Explaining away problems: Sometimes, third-party sellers solicit fake Amazon reviews that are designed to explain away the problems about which other reviews complain. If you see a number of reviews that mention a similar issue and other reviews that seem to counter or minimize these problems, it may be a sign that the seller has organized a campaign against legitimate negative reviews.
  • Multiple reviews on the same date: Sketchy Amazon review campaigns can be highly coordinated. This means that you may notice that several reviews are clustered on the same date. In fact, there may be a pattern of this behavior, with weeks or months extending between the clusters of reviews. This demonstrates an effort by the seller to coordinate false positive reviews to counter the legitimate ones.
  • Several reviews with similar wording: As you scan through the reviews, you may start to notice that many of them sound or look the same. This is another tell-tale clue that the seller has provided a “script” to be used by its fake reviewers. It’s always best to discount these similarly worded reviews from your evaluation of the product.

Other Steps You Can Take

Once you start examining the problem, it becomes clear that there are thousands of fake reviews on Amazon. Use the above tips to protect yourself, and be certain to take extra steps where it seems to be called for.


Here are some ways that you can dig deeper into a product and its seller:

  • Look elsewhere for reviews: You don’t have to restrict your research to Amazon. If possible, find other websites and social media channels where reviews may be located. YouTube videos are excellent resources. You might also look for reviews of certain products that were performed by Consumer Reports or a major media outlet. Many of these in-depth reviews can give you a much better idea of the product’s pros and cons.
  • Research the brand: If you are at all suspicious of the product’s listing on Amazon, then it is wise to check out the brand that is behind it. Be especially wary of any company that does not have an official website. Likewise, if the brand’s website is extremely thin and flimsy, containing little substantive information, then you would probably be wise to steer clear of their products. Chances are very good that whatever they are selling is not worth your money. Also, check the website for the Better Business Bureau and similar services to see if the company is rated there.
  • Check Amazon profiles: If you are having difficulty determining whether or not an Amazon review is fake, just click on the reviewer’s name. This will take you to their profile. Check on how many reviews they have left for products and what those products are. Notice any patterns that might point to coordinated efforts to falsely boost products. Be sure to take a look at the reviewer’s “Impact” score, which Amazon compiles by using the number of people who tapped the “Helpful” button beneath their reviews.

Seek Outside Tools for Support

Amazon offers an astonishing variety of products both large and small. It may not be necessary to conduct an in-depth research project every time you need to buy a new kitchen knife, but there certainly will be times when it is sensible to take a deep dive so that you don’t waste your time and money.

For those smaller purchases, it might make sense to let someone else do the heavy lifting. Fortunately, there is a handful of trustworthy online tools that can make it easier for you to determine if your smaller purchases are good choices.

The first of these is Fakespot, an extension on Chrome that also is a mobile app. It relies on seller history and analyzes review legitimacy to remove fake reviews from the equation. This leaves you with genuine ratings and reviews to consider.

The next is Review Meta. Simply navigate to and paste the Amazon product page URL into the search box. Automatically, the website analyzes the totality of the reviews to evaluate them and presents an adjusted score that removes any reviews that are considered untrustworthy.

You also can look at The Review Index at This service is particularly helpful if you’re looking for a more granular breakdown of the reviews for a particular product. It can identify and flag fake reviews while also providing concise summaries that are categorized by certain features for each product.

It is not really possible to determine just how accurate these tools are, so it is best to take their results under advisement but to not trust them absolutely. Amazon is known to declare that their fake review problem is not as bad as these online tools typically suggest, but it’s in their best interests to do so. 


Bear in mind if you use any of these tools that they may identify false positives as they look for fake reviews. Nonetheless, you can use them to help you analyze products and brands with which you are unfamiliar.

Look for Reviews in the Middle

When all else fails or you are simply feeling overwhelmed, filter the Amazon reviews on the product you are considering by their number of stars. Pay particular attention to the three- and two-star reviews. Third-party sellers frequently pay for five-star reviews on their products and one-star reviews on the products of their competitors. 

The cagier ones will solicit the occasional four-star review just to show that they are being fair. However, no seller is likely to pay anyone to leave a two- or three-star review, so you can trust these to be accurate if not exactly glowing. 

These reviews may be your best clue as to the actual quality of the product, especially if you see many reviews in these categories. 

Once Burned, Twice Shy

What do you do if you fall for fake reviews on Amazon? The company definitely wants to know about it. Notify Amazon by clicking on the “report abuse” link. You can even do this for products that you have not purchased. Sometimes, the fake reviews are so glaring that you don’t need to actually receive the product to know that it won’t live up to expectations.

Return any product that you bought under false pretenses according to Amazon’s return policy. However, be aware that many third-party sellers have their own return policies, which can be quite different from Amazon’s. This may mean that you are stuck with an inferior product and cannot get your money back.

Accordingly, it is sensible to always check the seller’s return policy when buying from the Marketplace program.


How do I know if an Amazon review is fake?

There are several tell-tale signs, such as a review that consists of just one or two words or one that is loaded with spelling and grammatical errors. Be on the lookout for any reviews that are grouped by date as well.

What should I do if I see an Amazon product with fake review?

Click on the “report abuse” link to inform Amazon of the issue.


Are there tools I can use to spot fake reviews?

Tools such as Fakespot, Review Meta and The Review Index can make spotting fake Amazon reviews easier.

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