How to Spot a Fake Review on Amazon, Google, Walmart, etc.

Many of us read online reviews to help us determine the quality of a product or business. However, not all reviews are honest. Many reviews are intentionally left to sway the customer into buying a product / doing business with a particular company. Other reviews are maliciously left to damage a product’s or business’ reputation. Either way, not good.

Here is a short list of things to watch out for if you are reading an online review of a product or business. Later, I may add to this list if I have the time.

Please note that nothing is fool-proof, and that you may end up believing a review is fake when it is not or vice versa.

  1. Does the reviewer have a history of reviewing other products or businesses? – Does the reviewer’s account have a few other reviews listed, or only 1 or 2. Many times fake reviewers create new accounts for the sole purpose of posting a couple (or so) fake reviews for a particular product or business.
  2. Does the reviewer have reviews “here and there”, or does the reviewer’s account have tons of reviews in a short span of time? – One thing to watch out for is a reviewer with tons of reviews all in a span of weeks. Sometimes the reviewer may review 5-10 products, wait a couple of months, and do another 5-10 products. These people usually have several accounts, and they switch between them when writing reviews. This is obviously done for money and not for the benefit of the customer reading the reviews.
  3. How detailed is the review? – Does the reviewer give specific details in his review, or do they just give generalities like “Good product!” or “Was shipped fast!” or “Beware! Business ripped me off. Went somewhere else.”? Anytime a reviewer does not bother to give details, I would skip that review. A lot of fake reviewers are interested in how many fake reviews they churn out, not about the quality of said fake reviews.
  4. Does the reviewer have a history of all “5-star” reviews? – Even if a reviewer has many reviews spaced out over time (usually a good sign), if most of their reviews are “1-star” or “5-star” reviews, this can be a sign that something is not right. If virtually all the reviews are “5-star” ones, this can be a paid reviewer, or someone who just sees the good in everything (not a bad personality trait, by the way). This can throw off their review, since they may skip over all the “bad” and just mention the good, which does you nor anyone else any good.
  5. Does the reviewer have a history of all “1-star” reviews? – If virtually all the reviews are “1-star” ones, this can also be a paid reviewer, or someone who just sees the bad in everything. This too can throw off their review, since they may skip over all the “good” and just mention the bad, which does you nor anyone else any good either.
  6. Is the reviewer the one who purchased the item or service, or are they writing a review for their “friend”? – Any review that claims to be writing for someone else is automatically suspect in my book. While not all these reviews are fake, I personally stay away from those.
  7. (For a negative review) Has the business replied to the reviewer? – It is always a good idea to read a business’ response to a negative review. If the business has replied with good points about how the review is a fake, you may want to reconsider believing the negative review. Check to see if the business gives details about how the reviewer is lying. Also, check to see if the reviewer ever replies to the business’ response. This back and forth between a business and customer can be helpful in determining who is lying and who is telling the truth.
  8. Did the reviewer even write a review, or did he just leave only a rating? – This is when someone leaves a “1-star”, “3-star”, “5-star”, etc. rating without leaving an actual review. I usually overlook these kinds of reviews, since they really are not reviews to begin with. If someone leaves a “1-star” review with a business without writing anything, my question would obviously be: “Why was your experience a ‘1-star’?”. Ratings with no explanation do nothing to help anyone, since there is no context given. You are just left to guess. These kinds of reviews are frequently seen when searching businesses on Google Maps.
  9. Has the reviewer used the product before? – This one is kind of funny. Some reviewers claim – with a “5-star” rating – that the product “looks good” or “shipped fast” …but they suddenly claim that they have not actually used the product and are “not sure if it works or not”. These reviews – while phony – are still funny.
  10. Has the reviewer hidden their review history? – Hiding your review history is a feature on Amazon  (probably others as well). If a reviewer hides their review history, I would be very careful believing what they say. In my opinion, except for the occasional person who is paranoid, people who do this do not want you to know about the products they reviewed. Why? Maybe because you may realize they are writing several reviews, all at the same time, and that would make them look suspicious?

Here is a real-life example (for #7):

I once saw a local business have someone leave a bad 1-star review, claiming they were overcharging in their estimate and that they were able to get their vehicle repaired at another shop for a lot less cash.

Well, I read the business owner’s reply. He explained in detail how the reviewer was misleading everyone, and how there was virtually no way they could have gotten their vehicle repaired for the amount the reviewer claimed. He also asked the reviewer to provide proof of their claims, since their review was basically slandering his business and himself as well.

The reviewer never replied with anything to prove what they said was true. I suspect the reviewer was intentionally lying, since their review was somewhat vague and they obviously did not want to provide proof. Why not, if you are telling the truth?

Posted in General, Shopping, Society

What Exactly Does “better” Mean, and Why You Should Always Give Context

I have noticed many times on the Internet, people will ask if A is better than B. However, they do not give any context of what they consider “better” to be.

Whenever someone asks me if A is better than B, I always ask them, “What exactly do you mean?”. This is so I can help them make an informed decision. Otherwise I am just guessing, and that will not be helpful to anyone.

Here is an example of someone asking if something is better without context.

A guy named Jeremy goes to a cellphone store and asks Greg the salesman, “Which phone is better to use?”.

Jeremy has not explained to Greg what his requirements are. He could be asking “Which phone is cheaper?”, “Which phone is the fastest?”, “Which phone has the most battery life?”, etc. You get the idea. His saying “better” does not give any context to Greg.

Now Greg proceeds to correctly ask Jeremy, “What are your specific requirements?”. Jeremy then responds saying he is looking for a phone that has a large screen and is not too slow. Now Greg has context – instead of just “better” – and he now can properly show Jeremy the phones that will meet his needs.

Now Jeremy leaves the store happy, since he was able to purchase the phone he wanted.

Something to keep in mind. When someone mentions “better”, that is just their opinion. It does not mean anything until you get their context, and even then, you still would have to agree with their reasons why A is better than B.

You can also have someone who does not care either way. In this case, “better” does not factor in for him.

In addition, you may have someone give their opinion that A is better than B. However, if there is ample, reliable evidence to prove that A is instead equal to B (e.g., scientific research done by two independent universities that came to the same conclusion using valid, reliable methods to test), then there is cause to not believe what the person said. It all comes down to using common sense.

Summary: It’s good practice to always add context when asking if A is “better” than B, otherwise you will have people misunderstand what you are asking and may (unintentionally) give you an answer that is not helpful.

Posted in Computers, General, Internet and Servers, Operating Systems, Security, Shopping, Society, Software

5 eBay Scams to Watch Out for as a Seller

Here are 5 eBay scams to watch out for if you are an eBay seller.

Please note that eBay sellers have almost no protection against dishonest buyers. Worse, several people in the eBay forums seem to fuss at the sellers for “not doing something right”, instead of being helpful and coming up with solutions to help remedy the problem.

Are there options a seller can take to protect himself from bad buyers? Not really. You must stay vigilant. I know that does not really help, but until eBay gives basic protection to sellers, that is all you can do.

1) Bait-and-Switch Return

This is when a buyer purchases your item, you ship it, and he receives it with no issue. A few days later, he will start a return claiming “something is wrong” with the item, and ship it back to you.

However, once you get the item back, you will discover that he placed either something else entirely in the box, or he shipped you his broken version of the item you sold (e.g., the serial number displayed on the returned item is not the serial for the item you sold).

Either way, you lost both the money and item. He gets away scot-free to do it again to another seller.


2) Damaged Return

This one is like the “bait-and-switch” return. The difference is the buyer does in fact send you back the same item you sold, but he has damaged the item, while claiming that you sold it in bad condition.

I am not talking about damage due to shipping. I am talking about complete destruction of the item. In other words, you lost your money and you no longer have an item to sell due to his carelessness or whatever caused the problem. Buyers who commit this kind of fraud are thieves & liars.


3) Hoax Return

This is when a buyer claims something is wrong with the item you sold him. However, once you receive the item back, it works perfectly and can be resold. Nothing the buyer claimed was wrong with the item is true.

I suspect buyers who lie to get a return have either found a better deal and wanted some of their money back, or they were not happy – for whatever reason – with their purchase, and wanted to lie to make certain they would get a return. Either way you are dealing with a liar and you should block his eBay account. Remember every return costs you time & money.


4) Cancelled Order after Shipment

This is when someone buys your item, you ship it off, and an hour or two later he suddenly cancels the order. The idea is you will not be able to stop the shipment in time, he gets your item and his money back. This scam usually is applied to high-priced items (e.g., gaming video cards, 4K televisions).


5) Charge-back

This is when someone buys an item from you (usually high-priced), gets the item, then a few days later initiates a charge back. This is done either through PayPal or their credit company.

You lose your item and money. This is major fraud and the buyer not only should be kicked off eBay, but he should also be prosecuted. Otherwise, he will just do it again to someone else.

Posted in General, Shopping

The Warning Signs of Online Scams and how to Avoid Them

Have you ever gone to a website that promised to show you how to strike it rich? Showed you how much money he is making in his PayPal account using his “special system”? Told you that he would show you how to do it yourself? Then once you are “in the system”, you quickly find out that most (if not all) of what he told you was hype?

That has happened to me before. People lying through their teeth, preying on unsuspecting people – many who probably do not have a lot of money.

I’ll give you some things to be cautious of when looking at services found online (e.g., like how to make money every day). Please note that just because a business falls into one or more of these categories, does not mean they are a scam. You will just have to use common sense.

1) Watch out for long, drawn-out webpages

If someone is advertising their product, and their webpage seems like it has no end what-so-ever (the page seems like a small book), then this is a very good sign that this service is a scam.

No one who is professional is going to go on and on taking up 30-45 minutes of your time to show you something that can be shown in 10 minutes or less.

2) Watch out for repetitive words

Scammers love to restate things over and over again. Like “you will make money in no time!”, “my special system…”, “this unique system…”, “…spend less time…”, etc.

If you get the same words, basic ideas, maybe even whole phrases repeated to you over and over again, mark it down that it looks like a scam.

3) Watch out for “testimonial” videos

Several scammers use “testimonial” videos to try to convince you that real people have tried out his service, system, whatever, and it actually works. Problem is, there is no way to know if these testimonials are in fact 100% true, and not just some actors being payed to say certain things for money.

4) Watch out for “No Cost” services

These scammers will typically try to get you to think that you do not have to spend ANY money with them to get these “services” or learn about his “system” of doing things.

Problem is, how does he make money if he does not charge anything? Something is wrong with that. Why would someone spend their time and money showing you how to make money (or whatever) and not get anything in return?

5) Watch out for “make money with Google Ad-sense” type of services

Google Ad-sense is a service from Google that allows webmasters to put Google ads on their websites. Basically if someone comes to your website and clicks on one (or more) of the Google Ad-sense ads, then you make a little bit of money. This really is not the way to make serious money online, but it can be a start for some people.

In my experience, every single “make money with Google Ad-sense” type of services I have come across has been a scam. No kidding! If the person wants to sell you Google Ad-sense “services”, be very cautious. There is a 99% chance that he is a scammer.

6) Watch out for “website building” scams

There are scammers that will promise to build you a website (for money) that will make you money. Well these “services” will more than likely turn out to be a scam.

I know because I had two people scam me before with this type of scam. A little over 6 years ago, I trusted two people to make me a website that would make money. Well I found out that these people were scammers (they built a one page website that made them money 😆). Thankfully PayPal gave the money back.

7) Watch out for web-hosting scams

A lot of people are duped by web-hosting companies telling them that they are getting unlimited disk-space and unlimited bandwidth. Folks, these hosting companies that advertise such things are lying to you (I should know, since I do web-hosting myself!)

Even the word “unmetered” (a term a few web-hosts use) while technically is different from “unlimited” is still riding on the edge as being dishonest.

Have you ever heard of an unlimited hard drive before?  How about unlimited bandwidth on an Internet router? Nope! No web-hosting company in the world can give anyone true, honest-to-goodness unlimited disk-space and bandwidth. It just will not happen.

It would be much better to find a host that does not offer any kind of unlimited hosting and has reasonable web-hosting packages available for purchase. Of course, that is your business whether or not you go with an unlimited web-host.

8) Watch out for “just run my software program, and it WILL make you money” type of scams

I have seen one such scam that if someone would use this “specially written” software, you will make money. I think you were to set it up a certain way and then “turn it on”, then it would make you money. I am sure everybody would like to have a money making solution like that. What a bunch of hogwash!

9) Watch out for “article website building software” (wow, that was a mouthful)

This type of scam is rare, but non-the-less real. I came across a software that built you a website full of articles at no cost.

Basically the idea is to have a bunch of unique content on the Internet for Google to index. Then when people find your article websites on Google, they have an opportunity to click on Google Ad-sense (or whatever money making ads you have) and make you money.

Well what the program was doing was taking other people’s articles (without their permission) and putting them onto your website (at least, the software put the name of the author for each article it copied). Google might ban your domain name if you put on duplicate content that was originally found on other websites. So much for unique content! 🙂

So basically there was a very small chance of making money (dishonestly), and you were risking Google banning your domain name that you used for the article website. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

10) Watch out for “I am tired of scammers too” sales pitches

I watched a video of this guy claiming that he was “tired of all the people who would scam you”. Basically he was trying to get people to believe that he was not a scammer. Well 2/3 into the video, it was real evident that he was promoting a “pyramid scheme” scam. So much for that.

Posted in Shopping