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Do you rely on product reviews to decide if something is good enough to try or buy? Real product reviews are great at helping us make better informed decisions. But you might wonder if some of these reviews – on websites, in blogs and on social media – are from real customers who used the product. And you should, because some companies use fake reviews to paint a pretty picture and boost their bottom line.

According to an FTC lawsuit, Sunday Riley Modern Skincare, which sells cosmetics through Sephora and other retail chains, decided that fakery was the way to go. The FTC says that the CEO herself, Sunday Riley, and other company managers created accounts and, posing as customers, wrote positive reviews for their own products and encouraged other company employees to do so. But that’s not all. When Sephora removed fake reviews coming from Sunday Riley’s IP address, what did Sunday Riley and her staff do in response? According to the FTC’s complaint, they got even sneakier, using a Virtual Private Network to hide their identity so the fake reviews could keep on coming.

The FTC’s settlement with the company says that it will be subject to civil penalties if it engages in similar deceptive conduct in the future.

The next time you plan to buy anything based on online reviews:

  • Consider the source of the reviews before deciding to buy or pass. Reviews from trusted and impartial experts and organizations are likely worth more than a single customer review or one found on a website you’ve never heard of.
  • Compare online reviews from more than one source. You can get a better idea about a company, product, or service from reading reviews on several types of websites, including retail or shopping comparison sites. Also check out trusted sites that specialize in reviewing products with expert reviews and comparisons.

For more information, check out this video.

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October 22, 2019
(some) Amazon sellers do this all the time. They post ads on Craigslist mostly in the gigs section promising high commissions for writing multiple reviews for their products. Of course it's a one time deal bc multiple reviews can't come from one person ... But similar ads are popping up on Craigslist, seen them on Chicago, Florida CL and others.
October 22, 2019
What may be more useful would be to show the return rate of items purchased online. Customer reviews are essentially useless. This article is valuable in showing the amount of deception in advertising that goes on.
October 22, 2019
I have never relied on consumer reviews for just that reason. It's only now coming to light that dishonesty seems to prevail these days. But thanks to the FTC, lots more is known generally than before.
October 22, 2019
It is my opinion that "generated" reviews are quite common. This company is just one among the multitudes. Caveat emptor
October 22, 2019
This was not helpful. If all you do is say make sure you get honest reviews that doesn't help at all-- we know that! Tell us which websites can be trusted for honest reviews. Give us names! Tell us how we can post an honest review of a company or a product. That is helpful.
October 22, 2019

In reply to by cbhamaker

I totally agree with you, cbhamaker. Thanks for your response.
October 22, 2019

In reply to by cbhamaker

The problem is any site that allows the public to post reviews is open for possible deception. Many do have filters to reduce fake reviews from bots, but fake reviews made by real people are harder to catch. Watch out for overly elaborate positive reviews. Check other websites for information on the product.
October 23, 2019

In reply to by cbhamaker

Exactly!!! Please tell us what Review Sites to go to to see legit reviews and make our own review statements.
October 22, 2019
I left a review on Amazon about a product I bought that was made by a big name cosmetic company and because it wasn't a good review it got removed after a couple hours so I don't trust any product reviews anymore no matter who sells or makes it.
October 23, 2019
Thank God for the FTC enforcement Division !!!!