Last August, we looked at The Review Factory – based on an August 2011 NYT article In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5. This August, there is a new article on the wholesale manufacturing of purchased reviews:

“In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

There were immediate complaints in online forums that the service was violating the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author. But there were also orders, a lot of them. Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.”

You may have wondered how some self-published books launched with lots of positive reviews at publication date. Now you know.

The article ends with Google and Amazon dinging him, and closing its doors. Meanwhile, here are some  ways to discern if a review is a fake:





Yelp Going Public; Billions to Flow to Reviewers (February 17th, 2012)

The Review Factory (August 21st, 2011)

Amazon’s Absurd Pro-kindle Anti-Author Book Reviews (March 17th, 2010)

The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy
NYT, August 25, 2012

Category: Consumer Spending, Web/Tech

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

12 Responses to “Fake Review Factory, Redux”

  1. machinehead says:

    ‘Here are some ways to discern if a review is a fake.’

    Strange — all of these techniques are staples of sell-side ‘research.’

  2. [...] Fake Review Factory, Redux  I assume the rates are lower now. Globalization. [...]

  3. The Window Washer says:

    I love reading The Big Picture and following Barry Ritholtz! An incredibly insightful and successful prognosticator. A daily must read!

  4. VennData says:

    I enjoy the commentary of The Window Washer a great deal. If there are a lot of comments, I’ve got a little page search macro that looks for his – her? – on the page and also use Google Alerts The Window Washer every hour on the hour. Please keep up the great body of work TWW and more exclamation points!

  5. philipat says:

    “Freedom of speech” is a double-edged sword isn’t it? And for anyone thinking to have Google remove something, some simple advice. Forget it!!


    BR: Are you equating misleading paid reviews — appearing as if they were actually made by users/readers/customers with speech?

  6. ToNYC says:

    They all matriculated at Trump University, where you buy your ratings increase in the time frame you can afford. Sort of like almost every chart made for retail presentation. Their lawyer; their time frame.
    Keep your eye on the slope; watch your wallets!

  7. philipat says:

    Barry, you are the Lawyer and that is a very fair point. It is certainly sleezy bahaviour and not something that I would want to do to make a living, but then why pick on that in this day and age? But what would be the basis for a succesful legal action, which is about the only thing that gets Google’s attention?


    BR: The Rule of Law matters — stop rationalizing criminal behavior

  8. doug says:

    BR, yes it is sleazy. But what law was broken to make it ‘criminal behavior’?

  9. NoKidding says:

    I use some of the same filters for e-mail, spoken conversation and reading.

    Exclamation marks or multiple question marks- immediately binned unimportant.
    Focus of story is self rather than subject – not interested.
    High adverb usage – trying too hard or lacking vocabulary.

  10. RockysBoy says:

    Barry, As someone that bases most of their purchases as Amazon, Yelp, Consumer Reports etc. Thanks for making me more aware of this practice. I think we need to keep some integrity on the internet! Thanks always glad when I read your site & enjoy seeing you on Fast Money. Btw, thanks for the $10. I’ll characterize it as something else. What would the gov or a lobbyist term this??? I am thinking, I am thinking…

  11. [...] are the actual funny reviews (Amazon).  And speaking of reviews: Fake review factory: redux (The Big Picture) Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in [...]

  12. [...] up some interesting insights, both ultimately resting on the same point: ‘fake’ is generally bad form and, at least in the investing world, really bad [...]