In October 2016, Amazon banned incentivized reviews tied to free or discounted products. Prior to this change, incentivized reviews were allowed so long as the reviewer included a disclaimer in their review disclosing that the product was received for free or at a discount in exchange for their honest review.
In the following months, Amazon deleted the majority of incentivized reviews from their site. They also marked reviews as unverified if they were bought at a discount. However, this has only served to push review manipulation underground where it is much harder to detect.
We have recently discovered some egregious review manipulation by three beauty brands (all tied to the same person). Through a secret Facebook group called Skincare Insiders, products are offered for around $1. The products are listed as trial size for $1, but the brands ship out the full size product. This allows them to sell discounted products at “full price,” so the reviews are still verified.
Members of the group are instructed to leave positive reviews and qualify for gift card giveaways when they post a certain amount of 5-star reviews. They are also told not to leave a review if they didn’t like the product.
Although the description of the secret group claims it is “supported by top beauty brands,” there are actually only three brands offered in the group: OzNaturals, Admire My Skin, and Seoul Ceuticals. All of these brands are operated by the same person, Craig Romero.
Amazon’s Community Guidelines state, “We encourage anyone who suspects that content manipulation is taking place or that our Guidelines are being violated in any way to notify us. We will investigate the concern thoroughly and take any appropriate actions.” The community guidelines can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201929730.
We reported this review manipulation in July of 2017 and Amazon has not taken any action. These brands should be suspended immediately and their reviews should be removed from the site. Due to Amazon’s inaction, we have decided to expose this review abuse publicly in hopes that the appropriate action will finally be taken.
You can see screenshots from the secret group here: https://www.slideshare.net/ReviewWatchers/top-beauty-brands-amazon-review-manipulation-exposed-82306884
Here’s a video walkthrough of the group: