In our first article we explained why Amazon, lead by Jeff Bezos, has or soon will pass Bernie Madoff as the largest beneficiary of the biggest dollar scam in history. We also reviewed how brazen the fake review market is for companies on the Amazon platform (we have not seen any fake reviews offered on Ebay or Walmart), and we highlighted four fake review farms. If you found it shocking that fake review providers are shamelessly and publicly selling their wares through websites, advertising, Twitter and on videos– then the next 11 companies we’re going to spotlight (bringing the total to 15) should prove how widespread this scam is. Remember Amazon and our government bragged about taking down a single fake review ring in 2016 that resulted in the shutdown of three merchants.
The amount of fake review consumer fraud on Amazon is massive and shocking. The truth is, no single company benefits more from this massive fraud than Amazon.com. The Jeff Bezos company doesn’t use their monopoly powers in the traditional way to create higher prices. Instead, they knowingly choose more unscrupulous ways to advance their dominate market position, but always using their size and reach to ensure other companies in the marketplace are forced to react to their leadership.
We believe the Ebanel pain relief product with both Ultra-Potent Hemp Extract and Menthol is unethical and illegal under the rules of the Federal Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has not approved hemp or cannabis products.
The FDA has not approved this use. Hemp extract can not be included with any FDA active ingredient, or an FDA approved use like “pain relief.” For example menthol is considered an FDA active ingredient for pain relief. All pain relief products with menthol must work under the FDA regulatory umbrella.
Ebanel has more than doubled their fake reviews on a single product, literally overnight! Just look at the photo’s. Thursday evening their spray product was struggling with a slowly sinking score (despite a load of fake positive reviews!). As part of their product launch strategy, they gave their spray an immediate fake review boost by claiming it was a size and color variation on their cream product. We believe Amazon forcibly separated the two products after complaints of malfeasance. As a result, Ebanel’s fake review count went down significantly and so did their score on that spray product.
So what did Ebanel do? In addition to slowly adding fake reviews to the spray, they went back in a few weeks later and recombined the products!
After we sent our last article to the Department of Justice, they have responded. So we will be coping them on all of our future articles. We have made a claim that Amazon discriminates against both against US and honest businesses; that Amazon gives an asymmetric and unfair advantage to known and documented cheaters and/or offshore companies that use large scale fake reviews from day one.
US President Donald Trump accused his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron over the digital service tax, hinting that he would impose a tax on French wine in the United States in return. Trump expressed displeasure from his Twitter account Friday over French plans to tax multinational technology companies such as Google. The French authorities have justified this tax because such companies pay little or no taxes at all in the countries where they operate.
We have written news articles about Amazon. No matter how bad and dishonest the paid, fake reviews became on their marketplace website, Amazon persistently responded to our complaints by sending us their guidelines and continuing to make public statements such as:
“One unauthorized review is one too many.”
“Any attempt to manipulate customer reviews is strictly prohibited at Amazon.”
“Small and medium-sized businesses are thriving with Amazon.”
We have repeatedly submitted factual evidence and documentation of the systemic use of fake reviews directly to Jeff Bezos at Amazon, and no matter how bad the documented malfeasance is, Amazon just skirts the issues.
After a good deal of anticipation, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it was opening a broad and sweeping antitrust review of some of Big Tech’s biggest firms. While the department didn’t mention any names, the Wall Street Journal reported it was acting on “new Washington threats” from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. It is the boldest action yet against the Silicon Valley giants, and comes off the heels of a rocky week on Capitol Hill. The announcement is sure to attract praise from the likes of both Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)— for different reasons.
Matt Drudge gave a speech before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in 1998. He was already deemed an internet leader in both news and aggregated news distribution. His Drudge Report challenged the ethos of the newspaper society, which was just the beginning of dynamic revolutionary change in the news world order. The Drudge Report made friends, added enemies, created new futures and helped forced everyone in the industry to change many times over in order just to stay relevant.
We reviewed Travelamo this week. We have found that companies are often the most egregious users of fake reviews during a new product launch. We reviewed the Travelambo Leather Business Card Holder Case for Men or Women Name Card Case Holder Magnetic Shut (Napa Red Wine) on Amazon.
This week, Durig Capital provides a brief update on 99 Cents Only Stores LLC, a deep discount retailer whose bonds we have reviewed in the past for our Fixed Income 2 (FX2) High Yield Managed Income Portfolio. 99 Cents Only Stores has recently been challenged by its outstanding debt obligations. Here are some of the highlights:
Deep discount retailer 99 Cents Only Stores recently completed an arrangement with creditors which would eliminate many of their short term debt obligations.
Debt to equity swaps are a common method companies use to improve liquidity.
Under the newly agreed upon terms, 99 Cents Only Stores will issue common and preferred stock for some of its outstanding debt.
Recent Financial Statements
We went through the reviews of Wewgo Ball Bearing 608-2RS and they had an incredible rating of 4.4 stars by Amazon. For this very high rating they were awarded an Amazon Choice Badge.
Having 4.4 stars made everything about this product look great, but there’s one major issue: The reviews were bought. Worst yet, over 70% of the total reviews for the Wewgo Ball Bearing 608-2RS were fake. Wewgo is another cheater! It appears everything about Wewgo was set up from day one to be a consumer scam, more on that later. Wewgo never deserved the Amazon Choice Badge. We’ve asked Amazon publicly to remove fake advertisers /reviews from their platform but after many complaints about Ebanel (so far the most successful at being a serial perpetrator of consumer fraud), they haven’t even removed the Amazon verified fake reviews or Amazon’s Choice Badge!
The cloud wars are becoming a duopoly with Microsoft operating their Azure division and Amazon offering the public their Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Amazon has first leader advantages and works in the fastest growing part of the cloud where they focus more on start ups. Amazon advertises heavily to make sure people know it’s a lower cost provider. The AWS business segment has been growing at an annual rate of 43-55% for the last three years and grew 41% last quarter alone. This is Amazon’s largest margin business.
- Amazon to Walmart: U.S. retail giants woke up Thursday to yet another challenge from Amazon.com. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos, this time with a call to match his company’s recent increase to a minimum wage of $15 per hour. “Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us…It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”
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.
- Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz: “Meanwhile, far-left activists succeeded in forcing Amazon to abandon plans to create a second headquarters in the New York City area, which would have brought 25,000 jobs and injected billions of dollars into the local economy. Where has common sense gone?“
- Endeavor currently offers streaming for the NFL, NBA, UFC, and Euroleague. In announcing the launch, the newly formed division has added new clients WWE and their WWE Network, one of the largest sports-entertainment OTT platforms in the world.
- The combination of IBM and Red Hat, it’s a game changer. IBM will be the undisputed No. 1 leader in hybrid cloud tech.
- Microsoft just leapfrogged Amazon with $8.5-billion in cloud revenue last quarter, opening a decisive lead over Amazon as the world’s leading enterprise cloud provider for the past 12 months.
- AWS retains its title as the world’s biggest cloud provider, but the position is not going unchallenged by the likes Microsoft and Google third quarter market analysis shows.
- IBM with it’s biggest software acquisition ever, could potentially be the new sheriff in town. With this elevated profile in the cloud landscape, IBM now offers a more compelling alternative to Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) , and Alphabet (GOOGL).
- Dark clouds are on the horizon for Google: An outage at YouTube highlights the unknown technical risks faced by cloud providers like Google. Investors know clouds are economically efficient, and large companies that can afford cloud infrastructure now dominate the global economy.
- OPINION: The true lesson of IBM’s move for Red Hat: Open-source has truly arrived. After years of wondering whether companies could make money on freely available software, hybrid-cloud infrastructure has solidified open-source’s role in tech.
Companies with stocks list in this report are Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB)
- Netflix to report Q3 revenue Tuesday after the close — the consensus is for revenue of $4.23 billion (up 29%) and EPS of $0.50.
- Amazon wants to dominate global streaming, there is little Netflix could do about it. On paper Netflix is a big fish with a market value of $154bn, but Amazon became the second company to reach a trillion-dollar valuation.
- Generation Zs top brands: #4. Netflix # 3. Oreo #2. Doritos # 1. YouTube, with at Amazon at #11 and Facebook at #39.
- Bearish bets against Netflix have more than tripled this year to an all-time high, according to data.
- Disney has four times as much revenue and twelve times as much net income as Netflix. With Netflix’s outstanding growth rate, there’s no question that investors should pay much higher multiples for Netflix, but the question is “how much higher?”
- Netflix’s fast-growing, big-spending ways suddenly don’t seem so ironclad. Investors wonder whether a maverick giant is about to facing its own disruption.