June 22, 2021

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A database leak reveals the identity of 200,000 fake Amazon references

A database leak reveals the identity of 200,000 fake Amazon references

Amazon. (Image: Primakov / Shutterstock)

Security researchers came across an openly accessible database containing the identities of 200,000 people who regularly posted fake reviews on Amazon.

Amazon has battled a flood of fake product reviews for years. Research indicates that as many as every fifth review on an ecommerce platform could be a fake review. Amazon regularly deletes the accounts of users that have been paid to create reviews. The group doesn’t really control the problem. A flawed database has now been detected that shows coordinated actions to generate fake reviews on a massive scale.

13 million data on a dummy review system

Present in the open database Safety Researcher from Safety Investigation Face how ZD-Net Reports. Accordingly, the database contained more than 13 million data on seven GB of storage, including usernames, email addresses, PayPal and Amazon accounts, as well as mobile phone numbers associated with Whatsapp or Telegram accounts. According to the data, a total of about 200,000 users gathered to create fake reviews on behalf of the company. Corresponding direct messages, which were also found in the database, prove this.

Tuned messages also allow for a closer look at review providers’ actions. One way – but it is already known – is for retailers to send a link to potential fake review creators to the product they want to rate 5 stars. Then users buy the product on Amazon. This ensures that the review appears under the “Verified Purchase” label.

Counterfeiters receive the product for free

After a few days, the fake reviewer posts their positive review and sends a letter to the retailer who hired him to do so. This then sends out a certain amount via PayPal as an expense provision. User can keep the product. Paying to reviewers is completely different. Some users or brokers offer packages of up to 1,000 fake reviews for a few thousand US dollars.

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According to Safetydetectices, the server is located in China and may belong to a Chinese organization. According to security researchers, access to the database was available between March 1 and 6. Then the owner seems to have noticed the error. Because after that the database was backed up. According to Safetydetectices, it was not possible to locate the owner. But Amazon was likely interested in the data. Merchants and users involved in the fake review system are threatened with being excluded from the platform.

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