Hordes Of Fake Reviewers Are Earning Up To S$1,600 A Month To Dupe Buyers
One recruiting firm has over 80,000 fake reviewers on its payroll.
Online reviews are a crucial part of buying things online. Though buying things online is easy and hella convenient, the down-side is obvious: because you can’t physically see and touch the product, you don’t really know what you’re getting.
That’s where online reviews come in: to help us buyers get a gauge on whether or not something is worth our hard-earned money.
On one Talking Point episode, Dr. Koh Noi Sian from Nanyang Polytechnic said that positive reviews can increase sales by 9%.
“Family members and friends have the most impact on [consumers’] purchase decisions… followed by online reviews,” she said.
It’s no wonder, then, that a whole industry has been built around creating fake reviews — an activity called “brushing”. One recruiting company has hired 80,000 people around the region, including Singapore.
One professional online reviewer told Channel News Asia that she would get paid a few hundred dollars for each review, even though she has never tried the products herself. Some full-time fake reviewers earn up to S$1,600 a month, she said.
One recruiting company looking for fake reviewers for the e-commerce platform Taobao told Talking Point that this was simply a “marketing strategy”. High reviews simply make products more visible to customers.
How to spot fake online reviews
There are some telltale signs that should signal that a review is bogus:
1. Using vague words.
Writing about something that you haven’t experienced yourself can be difficult, which is why fake reviews are usually vague in their praise, and are hardly ever specific. Writes the researchers:
“Truthful hotel reviews, for example, are more likely to use concrete words relating to the hotel, like ‘bathroom,’ ‘check-in,’ or ‘price’. Deceivers write more about things that set the scene, like ‘vacation’, ‘business trip’, or ‘my husband’.”
2. No internet presence
When you’re researching a product, take a look at the reviewer. For example, some online platforms will verify reviewers who have actually made purchases. These buyers are more likely to be truthful in their comments.
Just make a few extra clicks to make sure if the reviewer is a real person or just someone who created a dummy account to earn a quick buck.
3. The positive reviews were posted around the same time
If a new product has several five-star reviews that were posted in the same day or even the same hour, then that’s a red flag.
4. The company doesn’t have a return policy
One red flag when making an online purchase is a terrible (or even non-existent) return policy. If the company has a bunch of positive reviews but no searchable customer service number, then you should close the tab.
We hope this article on how to spot fake online reviews was helpful!
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