Consumer group Which? investigated hundreds of the top rated products on Amazon and found the highly regarded items were dominated by unknown brands, which in many cases had thousands of unverified reviews.
They've shared their techniques for spotting dishonest ratings and most of the tell-tale signs are very easy to notice.
Filter to check for unverified versus verified reviews
The most trustworthy reviews are marked as verified on Amazon - it means the website confirm the item was actually purchased before being rated.
Unverified reviews could be written by someone who has no experience at all with the product and as a result are much easier to fake.
As mentioned above, verified reviews can still be faked so make sure you carry out further checks.
A high number of positive reviews could be suspicious
If a product you're interested in has an extremely high number of positive reviews you should question whether they're genuine - especially if they're for a brand you've never heard of.
One way to check if they're honest reviews is by looking at the dates they were written.
If a high number of reviews were given on similar dates the seller might have done a big drive on social media to drum up feedback.
Look for repetition in the comments
While star ratings are a great way to quickly check a product, you shouldn't rely on them alone - check the comments as well.
If you see the same review titles, repetitive phrases or even the same reviewer name appear more than once on a product, it’s very likely that it has been targeted by fake reviews.
If a review reads like an advert, it probably is an advert
A genuine customer review is often quite easy to tell apart from a fake review, just by looking at the language used - be suspicious if the review is overly positive.
Two examples provided by Which? are:
- These £2 sunglasses are the best thing in the world. They’ve changed my life. I can stare directly at the sun for hours.
- Once I bought this snake oil for £170, I felt like a new person. My hair grew 5cm overnight and I instantly dropped 10kg.
Check seller profiles
Other things to beware of are foreign seller locations, strange business names, a lack of contact details and negative reviews of the seller.
Check out the seller profile page before you buy to see if anything seems out of place.
Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: "To avoid being misled and possibly buying a dud product, customers should always take reviews with a pinch of salt and look to independent and trustworthy sources when researching a purchase."