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5 Telltale Signs of a Fake Review

Alina Wojslaw
Published by
Alina Wojslaw
Read Article

5 Telltale Signs of a Fake Review

Alina Wojslaw
Published by
Alina Wojslaw

That’s right - that bag you were swayed into buying by a glowing testimonial may well have been smoke and mirrors.

As online review experts, we know how to spot fake reviews. By the end of this article, you'll know how to as well.

How to recognize a fake review?

It’s time to put your detective hat on and watch out for these 5 clues:

1. The verified buyer badge

Trying to decipher real reviews from fake? Start with the verified buyer badge.  

A reviewer will only show up as a verified buyer if they’ve actually bought the product from that website and has been invited to rate and review it via an invitation from the webshop.  

No badge next to a review doesn’t necessarily mean that the review is fake - the majority of online stores allow external users to leave their feedback also without an email invitation but only few - including all Lipscore customers - require logging in with a social account: Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail. They may not be verified buyers, but they are verified users whose full names are visible next to the reviews in most cases. This increases their credibility and imposes personal responsibility for the posted review on its author. Nonetheless, we recommend taking them with a pinch of salt.

2. When was it posted?

Look at the publishing dates. Does a product get a substantial injection of five-star reviews every now and then followed by a few deadly quiet days? Your detective senses should be tingling, and for good reason. Let’s consider the possibilities here.

Has this store owner:

  1. Been very lucky, then very unlucky?
  1. Dropped the product price to $0.01 at some ungodly hour, and asked their friends to buy, then immediately post a review?
  1. Created a bunch of test orders and asked their employees to leave positive reviews?  

We know which one we think is more likely.  

If a large cluster of positive reviews appears on the same day, it’s doubtful that they’re legitimate.

Note: A large bunch of reviews appearing on the same day doesn't always have to indicate fraud. Some providers, including us, offer to send a large bunch of review requests to, for instance, past customers or physical store customers, all at once. This might result in a large volume of reviews coming in witih a short time period but you should see diversity of their rating scores and content.

3. Full name, first name, nickname, anonymous?  

Is it the buyer trying to stay off the grid, or is someone trying to conceal that the 20 new five-star reviews that just got posted on xyzbeachwear.com on a rainy November day were all posted by John, the site owner?

Again, we’ll leave it up to you. Our advice - scrutinize reviews that are posted with incomplete names or nicknames but bear in mind that this goes both ways - if you see a negative review posted by “Winnie the Pooh” it can be from someone who has faked a review and doesn’t want the store to know who they are. Sneaky.

If the reviews list is filled with reviewers’ full names and first-name-only and anonymous reviews occur sporadically, you may also assume that the reviewer contacted the store and asked to have their name hidden, which is one of the rights resulting from GDPR.

4. Suspiciously high ratings

A webshop prides in 5/5 overall rating on its website. At the same time, it is rated 3.6/5 on Facebook and 3.3/5 on Google Reviews. How come?

Some stores fake ratings too. So, if in doubt, scout about for reviews on other sites and compare the results.  

5. The language from a sales script

People don’t write like Don Draper from Mad Men. Why? Because they’re not Madison Avenue advertising executives at the peak of their careers. They’re people of different backgrounds, origins, and language skills.

If the reviews read like a problem-solution sales script, furrow your brow and keep scrolling in search of authenticity - natural language, varying sentence structures, wording, maybe even some grammar mistakes and typos.  

Pay attention to the length of a review as well, bearing in mind that unless the customers really, really loved the product or service or really, really hated it, they won’t take the time to leave a massive page write-up of their brand experience.

Spotting a fake review is not a piece of pie, but if you take your time to conduct a short authenticity analysis based on our 5 steps, you should at least get a reliable gut feeling on whether you can trust the webshop you're browsing, or not.

Picture source: Freepic

Alina Wojslaw
Customer Success Manager