Amazon sellers used this network of people to make positive comments about their products even though they had never tried them.
An Internet database leak has exposed a network of more than 200,000 people posting fake product reviews on Amazon in exchange for free products.
This has been alerted by the cybersecurity company SafetyDetectives, which has discovered an open ElasticSearch database with a total of 13,124,962 data records, and with a weight of 7 GB, as reported by the researchers in a statement.
In the leaked database was a server that hosted direct messages between various Amazon sellers with users who were willing to post fake reviews in exchange for free products.
In this network, sellers would send users a list of products for them to post positive reviews with the maximum rating, five stars, a few days later on the Amazon page.
After the publication of the positive review, users would send a message to the sellers, with their Amazon and PayPal account information, to receive a refund and be able to keep the products for free.
The refunds were carried out through PayPal and not through Amazon's systems, and in this way the network avoided attracting the attention of the moderators of the e-commerce platform.
Among the 13 million records of between 200,000 and 250,000 people exposed in the leaked database are details of sellers such as their email accounts and phone numbers associated with WhatsApp or Telegram.
However, most of the information was personal details of the users posting the reviews, including emails, 75,000 links to Amazon accounts, details about PayPal accounts and usernames that sometimes contained real names. In total 232,664 Gmail accounts were exposed.
The servers involved were located in China and the users affected by the leak were mainly from the United States and Europe.
The database was exposed between March 1 and March 6 of this 2021, when its providers re-secured it and made it inaccessible. SafetyDetectives has been unable to identify the owners of the fake valuation network.
Amazon has responded to this controversy by defending that the company has "clear policies" for people who write reviews and sellers that "prohibit tampering with the functions" of the community, as a company spokesperson has assured Europa Press.
"We take action against those who violate our policies that may involve suspending or deleting their accounts or initiating legal action," the online commerce platform has stated.
Amazon has also claimed the use of "machine learning tools" and the work of its team of researchers, who "analyze more than 10 million reviews weekly" to stop unpermitted ones before they are published.
"In addition, we monitor all existing reviews for signs of inappropriate behavior and take action quickly if we find a problem. We also work proactively with the various social networks to report those actors who are generating misleading reviews outside of our store," the company concluded.