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The Cost of Review Fraud and the Value of Authenticity

Learn how email address intelligence is helping businesses fight back against review fraud.

Convenience and choice have become synonymous with online shopping. And online shopping trends keep ticking upward, with the global e-commerce market expected to be worth $6.3 trillion in 2024 alone. But this increase has also brought about some challenges – specifically, review fraud. New findings from customer experience company Uberall reveal that a significant majority (67%) of shoppers worry about the authenticity of online reviews, with many unable to distinguish between genuine and fake feedback.

Review fraud happens when fake reviews are posted online to either make a product look better than it really is or to unfairly criticize a competitor’s product. It’s become such a pervasive problem because shoppers rely on these reviews to decide what to buy, ultimately enhancing trust and loyalty with a brand. In fact, nearly 90% of online consumers consult reviews before buying.

Fortunately, leveraging email address intelligence to scrutinize the validity of email domains, unearth irregular patterns, and ensure reviews are linked to actual purchases can effectively tackle the menace of review fraud and set the stage for a more authentic and trustworthy digital shopping experience.

The Challenge of Review Fraud

With 93% of users saying online reviews had an impact on their buying decisions, review fraud is like having a cheat code that messes up the score. AI or genuine people write glowing reviews about a product that isn’t actually that good, or they write bad things about someone else’s product. In recent years, an illicit “fake review broker” industry has proliferated. According to Amazon, “these brokers approach customers directly through websites, social media channels, and encrypted messaging services, soliciting them to write fake reviews in exchange for money, free products, or other incentives.” This cheating can trick shoppers into buying things based on lies, which can make it difficult to know who to trust.

And trust is everything when you’re shopping online. According to Statista, out of 2.7 million online fake reviews in 2021 that were detected and removed, 46% were five-star reviews. So, if shoppers start thinking that these good reviews can’t be trusted, they might not feel comfortable purchasing online at all. This lack of trust hurts businesses, not just in sales but also in damaging brand reputation. When customers think they can’t rely on what they read online, it’s harder for businesses to connect, and can make customers less likely to stick with a brand long-term.

But real, honest reviews are important – only 2% of consumers have never read an online review. They help shoppers make smart choices and tell businesses how they can make their products better. When reviews are genuine, they create a kind of conversation between customers and businesses that’s good and helpful for everyone. By making sure reviews are from real people, companies like AtData are working to help keep that trust alive, keeping the marketplace fair and trustworthy. 

Understanding Email Address as a Fraud Vector

When it comes to spotting fake reviews, email addresses are a key indicator. As a primary identifier in the digital sector, they are frequently exploited for fraudulent purposes. Think of an email address as a digital fingerprint. Just like no two fingerprints are the same, each email address is unique to its user.

But here’s the problem: fraudsters can exploit this by creating many fake email addresses or using temporary ones to flood the internet with false reviews, which allows bad actors to skew review systems in their favor. Traditional methods of email verification have proven inadequate in addressing this loophole, illustrating the need for a new, stronger approach to identify and mitigate fraudulent activities.

Email Address Intelligence to Combat Review Fraud

So, what’s the solution? One response to this challenge is through a multifaceted strategy rooted in email address intelligence. By analyzing the intricacies of email domains, the age of email addresses, and associated behavioral patterns, data providers like AtData can pinpoint irregularities that suggest fraudulent activity. This involves a deep dive into the legitimacy of an email address, employing AI and machine learning algorithms to detect and adapt to the constantly evolving tactics of fraudsters.

Moreover, email address intelligence acts as a filter to prevent review fraud, serving as a checkpoint that scrutinizes the legitimacy of every review posted online. AtData validates the email address behind a review and confirms it’s tied to genuine customer transactions, ensuring the feedback presented to consumers is more likely to be authentic and reliable.

This strategy is not just reactive but proactive, offering businesses tools to preemptively identify potential fraud. By examining email addresses for signs that might indicate a review is fake, such as new accounts or patterns often used by fraudsters, AtData also discourages those looking to game the system by making it harder for them to succeed.

Enhancing Consumer Trust and Business Integrity

Uberall’s research shines a light on the tangible impact of consumer trust. A slight uptick in star ratings, something as simple as moving from a 3.5 to a 4.0, can drive a 25% increase in customer engagement. It’s a reminder of the direct correlation between customer trust, as reflected in star ratings, and revenue. Businesses that consistently achieve at least a four-star rating distinguish themselves, not only outpacing their competitors but also setting a standard for quality and reliability in the eyes of the consumer.
The drive towards authentic reviews has broader implications, too. In a marketplace where every review is genuine, consumers can make informed decisions, and businesses receive honest feedback on their products and services. This feedback loop offers invaluable insights that lead to improved product quality, better customer service, and, ultimately, growth. Businesses become more attuned to their customers’ needs and experiences, while consumers feel valued and understood – it’s the cornerstone of a healthy digital marketplace.


It goes without saying – online reviews impact consumer decision-making, and those reviews turn into revenue. So, the fight against review fraud is not one to be taken lightly. AtData offers genuine solutions to this challenge that are designed to preserve the integrity of online reviews and foster a healthier marketplace. Join us now in making the online sector better for everyone – visit AtData to discover how to protect your business and create a safer, more reliable online environment.

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Author: Diarmuid Thoma

AtData’s Vice President of Fraud & Data Strategy. Over 20 years of experience designing and working on fraud prevention platforms with large companies including Facebook, Symantec, and Hewlett Packard. Founding member of fraud platform Trustev which was acquired by TransUnion.