Consumers warned of growing trend of fake online product reviews


by Maggie Ruper

Posted on September 25, 2013 at 11:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 25 at 11:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Millions of people use online reviews to plan vacations and to choose which products to buy, but regulators say many of them aren’t real.

“Anyone that would sit down and write false reviews is misleading the public. It's deceptive and it's just not true,” Bruce Gadansky of the Better Business Bureau said.

In fact, by some estimates as many as 30 percent of reviews are fake. One Louisville woman says she knows that first hand.

“I’m not naive enough to think it never happens, but I was just very disappointed,” the woman said.

She spotted a Facebook post from Matt Kubancik, the founder of Street Moda, an online clothing retailer. He was seeking previous customers to write product reviews on Amazon in exchange for gear. The woman inquired about the opportunity by email.

“He gave me a link to a men's hoodie and he said write a five star positive review on this product and once it's published let me know,” the woman said.

The task, seen in the emails, left her feeling suspicious.

“I pretty much realized he wanted me to write fake reviews because I’m not a guy and I don’t own the product and there's no reason for him to assume I owned the product,” she said.

WHAS11 attempted to contact Kubancik in person for an explanation and eventually got in touch with him over the phone. When asked about the email conversation he responded, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” When advised that WHAS11 had obtained the email thread of the alleged conversation with his name typed on the bottom as the sender he said, “I have someone who answers all my emails.” Kubancik then abruptly ended the phone conversation and hung up.

The Better Business Bureau says consumers can protect themselves from fake reviews by checking multiple sources and checking for an influx of positive reviews on a site within a short amount of time.