A new study looked at how much money Americans are losing when phony online reviews make a bad product look good.
“It's 12 cents on every dollar and most people presumably spend, you know, hundreds of dollars on these types of online purchases that might be influenced by fake reviews, so it really does you know add up over time,” said Jesper Akesson, a researcher with The Behaviouralist.
A UK consumer group set up a shopping website to watch how people respond to fake reviews. They found when fake reviews were put on a low-quality product, people were about 50 percent more likely to buy it. They also found that frequent online shoppers were more likely to fall for fake reviews than less experienced ones.
“It's most likely, because these consumers shop much more quickly, so they sort of developed these habits of just looking at reviews very quickly,” Akesson said.
Companies have been taking steps to keep fake reviews off their sites. Amazon just filed suit against administrators of thousands of Facebook groups they said help coordinate fake reviews for profit.
“A typical sign of there being fake star reviews is that the reviews are sort of very kind of lopsided, you know, where you have a lot of five-star reviews,” Akesson said. “You can also sometimes check the profile of the reviewers as well and see other reviews they have left for other products, to see if you think they seem like real or not.”
He said companies should do more internal audits to determine how well they're protecting shoppers from fake reviews.