Amazon Rewards Fake Reviews – The Ebanel Case

The Numbing category on Amazon is rampant with fake reviews both positive and negative. Nowhere could we find a worse perpetrator than Ebanel Laboratories. After an in depth review of thousands of potentially false reviews, positive on their products, negative on their competitors, we filed a complaint to Amazon, and wrote an email directly to Jeff Bezos about Ebanel.

Amazon emailed us back on March 26th 2019.

Subject:  Extreme case of fraudulent reviews -immediate action needed

Hello,

My name is Anu, and I’m a member of the Amazon.com Seller Performance team. Jeff Bezos received your email and I am responding on his behalf.

Amazon is committed to maintaining a safe and secure trading environment and takes potential abuse of our policies seriously. We investigated the issue that you brought to our attention.

For reasons of account privacy, I cannot notify you of the outcome, but appropriate action has been taken.

Thank you for selling with Amazon,

Amazon’s Best Seller and #1 Homeopathic product company Ebanel has been confirmed and documented providing substantial falsified reviews. But surprisingly (or perhaps not to most of us) nothing had changed.

None of the fake reviews of  Ebanel purchased through a review farm had been taken down. We tracked their products over the next 5 days after Amazon response, and they did not remove any of the fake reviews, even those cited in the complaint, even though Amazon’s email said they were “committed to a safe and secure trading environment.” Since that email from Amazon, Ebanel continued to manufacture around 5 fake reviews a day, on the particular product we were tracking. After individually tracking each review, our research pointed to an estimated 70% of their reviews being falsified.

Numb25 Max Strength Lidocaine 5% Topical Numbing Cream for Tattoo, Microneedling, Laser Hair Remove,1.35oz Painkilling Anesthetic Ointment Rub with Liposomal Technology, Use Before Tattoo, Hemorrhoids

Even worse than simply allowing fake reviews, Amazon gave Numb520 an award ! This is another Ebanel product which we have reason to believe attained a massive number of fake 5 star reviews numbering in the thousands, in a very short period of time. They were awarded as an Amazon Best Seller, an award that greatly influences Amazons buyers.

This award on Amazon can potentially bring in millions of dollars in business to the Best Sellers, and in the Ebanel case it surely did. According to direct competitors only about 1% of buyers even bother to post numbing reviews, positive or negative. And 1% would be a good return rate!  The competitors we interviewed said it would have been physically impossible for Numb520 to have received the sheer volume of numbing reviews they had even if it was the greatest product ever!

We contacted the head of Marketing for Ebanel, a Ms. Chow, and asked how they could have so many correlated reviews with the exact same firms and she claimed:

“We have statistician that use the product from our social media channel.”

Of course that made no sense, so we asked a very simple question: If their reviewers were unethical, and she said “yes.” We asked again and again she said “yes.” We asked if she knew what she was saying and she changed her answers to “not understanding the question,” and then claimed “she had no time.”

The most shocking detail is that none of the massive amounts of known fake reviews have been removed. On top of that possibly over 70% of the new reviews posted on their products are fake on Numb25 Max  – and that is after Amazon’s involvement, at which point they had large quantities of evidence pointing towards fake reviews! As a matter of fact the number of reviews went from 36 on the March 21, 2019 when we sent our complaint letter to over 70 by March 31st, basically doubling, as they appeared to make about five fake reviews per day.

What is even more troubling is that fake reviews seem to be a very rewarding path to obtaining the “Best Seller” moniker. Even if you get caught it appears Amazon’s “Appropriate Action” does not even remove or delete the proven false reviews. Thus even when you are caught, you still could have increased your business substantially and without apparent consequences. No wonder Amazon has so many successful fake review farms active and giving reviews. From Amazon’s side of the business the review farms do buy the product so this increases Amazon’s overall revenues.

We identified Travelambo as also using the same review farm that Ebanel uses. Of the firms we tracked as using the same review farm as Ebanel, 40% now had the “Best Seller” product awards. Amazon is rewarding sellers with massive amounts of farmed reviews, steering you, the consumers, with their highest award. They do this even after they have documented facts supporting massive amount of review farm frauds.

Travelambo reviewers are very often the exact same people who are writing the Ebanel Reviews. Seeing a person or two who have reviewed the exact same products is a coincidence, but when you are seeing 10, 20, 30 or more companies with combined reviews, there is no way it’s a coincidence.

Amazon has provided outstanding advancements in online services especially delivery and prime, plus they provide many software and software related products. Fraudulent reviews are not a new thing, so Amazon has the technical capability to stop this massive fraud whenever they want. Surprisingly, Walmart has done a far better job in attaining real honest reviews especially in the field of numbing, where fake reviews are rampant on Amazon.  Walmart eliminated most fake reviews and most of the companies who put in large amounts of fake reviews.

We did a search for Walmart Ebanel Numbing on Google and all we could find on the Walmart page was:

This item is no longer available

If, in a very short time period, on a brand new product, there is a very high level of 5 star reviews, that triple combination alone should be a substantial software red flag for a fraud like Ebanel Numb520 with over 1,800 reviews in a few years, or from Numb25 Max going from zero to 70 reviews in about 20 days.

It is surprising that a leading platform would let possibly it’s worse perpetrator (that many in the industry consider an inferior product) be promoted by Amazon to the highest position on the Homeopathic Best Sellers list as a superstar, of superstars, even after being presented with a mountain of fact based evidence that Ebanel has orchestrating a multi-million dollar fake review fraud.

Amazon’s failure to take any recognizable action, outwardly rewarding Ebanel and others as their most privileged (The Number 1 Seller), after confirming the documentation of significant participation in a large fake review farm, could possibly put Amazon in significant legal risk.

Is Amazon rewarding Ebanel and others because their fake reviews have worked so well over years, that they can’t leave the gravy train, even when they know it’s wrong?

A couple of points are certain:

  • The consumers are the ones being given significant misrepresentation and often reading fake reviews just prior to their purchases, and Amazon knows this as a fact.
  • Amazon is knowingly and continually rewarding this misrepresentation and the perpetrators who do it.

We question how Amazon and Jeff Bezos personnel representative can claim Amazon  “takes potential abuse of our policies seriously“.    

Email Complaint Sent Directly to Jeff Bezos

Jay Black

I try to write fact based articles that most people won't. Lets improve this world including both Corporate and Government malfeasance. If you have a lead about a ethical failure please comment on my article or in many of my comments.

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