MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Consumer Reports has issued a warning that the high ratings on some products on Amazon may be misleading.
Amazon shoppers often decide to buy a product because it has a high number of stars.
Those stars are based on positive customer reviews and can earn a coveted Amazon Choice banner.
But Consumer Reports’ Jake Swearingen says, in a small number of cases, not all those reviews are legit.
“It’s a practice that we’re calling ‘review hijacking,’” he said.
Swearingen showed CBS News a back brace which received 4.3 out of 5 stars.
But when you look at the comments you find plenty of the positive reviews are actually for a baby bib apparently taken from another seller.
“Unscrupulous sellers have figured out how to exploit loopholes in the back end of Amazon,” Swearingen explained.
CBS News found this headphone jack adapter with 4 stars based on nearly 2,000 reviews. But most of the positive reviews were for a phone case or other products.
The actual adapter received scathing comments warning other customers not to buy it.
“Most people are not reading the actual reviews,” said Judah Bergman, the president of Jool. “They’re like, ‘4.5, OK let’s buy.’”
Bergman’s company sells baby products on Amazon.
He’s seen overseas companies take positive reviews from his listings and post them on their own.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time it’s been Chinese sellers that have been doing this to us,” he said.
After CBS News contacted Amazon, the 2,000 reviews for that headphone jack adapter dropped to 106. The unrelated comments were gone along with the Amazon Choice rating.
The company said they track more than five billion changes to detail pages every day.
In a statement, Amazon, said, in part:
“We have mechanisms in place to proactively detect, restrict, and prevent suspicious changes before they appear in our store.”
“I think people can still trust Amazon if they take the time to read reviews,” Swearingen said.
Swearingen said with a little investigating any online shopper can check whether those positive reviews are real.
Amazon told CBS News if someone reports an issue they will investigate it and take the appropriate actions.