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text 2015-10-17 21:58
This didn't take long.

(Edited to provide additional screenshots and to crop others so they are not complete versions, though of course I have those. -- LAWH)

 

How do I feel about this?  Well, Booklikes doesn't have an emoticon for disgusted but not surprised.

 

On fiverr dot com, her name is saffronblossom. 

 

 

 

She claims to have a law degree.

 

 

 She's been selling reviews on fiverr for quite some time.

 

She used to review on Goodreads under the names E. Lovett, Dianne Lucas, and E. Lucas.  All of those accounts were closed in August and September of 2014 -- more than a year ago -- based upon evidence provided to Goodreads that the reviews violated Goodreads' Terms of Service.  E. Lucas is the name under which she reviewed then and continues to review at Amazon.

 

Here is her review of Zay Heron's "Hunt for the Defender" on Amazon.

 

 

Note the date of 7 October 2015.

 

Here is the testimonial posted on Saffronblossom's fiverr profile from zayheron.

 

 

Circumstantial evidence?  Oh, let's go one further.  How much are you willing to bet there's a review within the past two weeks by E. Lucas of a book by Michal Hartstein?

 

 

Here is E. Lucas' Amazon review of "Unrequited" from July 2014.

 

 

 

 

And E. Lovett's review of the same book dated the same day on Goodreads.

 

 

This was sufficient evidence for Goodreads to remove the E. Lovett account in early August 2014.  Saffronblossom came back with another account, Dianne Lucas, which was also removed, and again with another E. Lucas account, which was also removed.  There's a very good possibility that she has returned with another; I gave up in frustration.

 

The point of this is, of course, that she was routinely and repeatedly reported to Goodreads and they dealt with the situation appropriately.

 

 

She was never removed from Amazon.  The review for "Unrequited" is still there under her account.  She has 1146 reviews.  She is a Top 500 reviewer.  She is a fiverr shill.

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A3K1FJNOECNX8R?ie=UTF8&display=public&page=57&sort_by=MostRecentReview

 

Interestingly enough, saffronblossom is not among those named in the complaint filed last week.

 

 

 

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text 2015-10-17 16:07
Re: Amazon Lawsuit against 1,114 fiverr reviewers
 [Text of email I sent to the lawyer who filed the complaint on Amazon's behalf and to the reporter who wrote the article in the Seattle Times about it.  There are two links in the text that may or may not work from this post, but I think anyone here can figure them out.  More later.  -- LAWH]
 
 

Amazon lawsuit against 1,114 fiverr reviewers

To
  • david.bateman@klgates.com
  • jgreene@seattletimes.com
  • Linda A. Hilton

 

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a seller on Amazon. I have four novels and two non-fiction books published through the Kindle Direct Publishing program, and I am also one of the artisans selling on the new Handmade at Amazon platform.  My Handmade shop is Arizona Angel Feathers.
 
 
 
 
image
 
 
 
 
 
Amazon.com: Arizona Angel Feathers: Handmade
I've been a rock hound since early childhood. Moving to Arizona from the Midwest in 1985 allowed me to indulge that passion fully, for Arizona truly is a place of r...
 
Preview by Yahoo
 
 
 
 
I am also a former member of Goodreads, until I was banned for, apparently, telling the truth about the thousands of bogus reviews on that site.  Yes, thousands.  Goodreads, as you know, is owned by Amazon.
 
I tried to report the fake reviews to Amazon, but for some reason or other they never did much about them.  I began at least as long ago as June 2014, and possibly a month or so before that.  Though many of the fake reviews were in fact removed from Goodreads, the same reviews remain to this day at Amazon.
 
After almost a year of researching the fake reviews from fiverr.com that were posted on Amazon and Goodreads and blogging the results of my investigations at Booklikes.com, I posted this in April 2015.
 
 
 
image
 
 
 
 
 
Amazon has always had the ability to stop the fake revie...
Screenshot taken today, 8 April 2015, of the Terms of Service at fiverr.
 
Preview by Yahoo
 
 
 
I don't expect either of you to reply to me.  Mr. Bateman, you are in Amazon's direct pay and are therefore going to present their interests and do nothing that would hinder their efforts, regardless what the end objective of those efforts might be.  Mr. Greene, you write for a Seattle newspaper, and Amazon is one of the twin gods of the region (the other being Microsoft) so I don't expect you to write, or your publisher to publish, anything critical of Amazon.
 
But the information is out there.  It's been out there for a very long time.  I'm not an investigative reporter and I don't have access to anything secret or private or confidential.  What information I obtained was readily available to anyone with the time and curiosity to find it.
 
I have hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of screen shots:  of Amazon reviews, of Goodreads reviews, of fiverr profiles, of fiverr testimonials.  And I have evidence that Amazon has made almost no attempt to protect their own reputation.  Fake reviews have not been removed when Amazon is presented with the evidence. 
 
I'm going to state that again just to make sure you're understanding clearly.
 
Amazon has not removed fake reviews even when presented with the evidence that those reviews were written by fiverr members who were advertising that they would post guaranteed 5-star reviews to Amazon, including evidence that those reviews were paid for by the product sellers, evidence that those reviews were posted in violation of Amazon's Terms of Service and Federal Trade Commission regulations.
 
I've given you a link to just one of my posts on Booklikes.com in which I've documented this information.  You can check out the rest of my posts there, going back to approximately May 2014, for some of the evidence.  I have more.  A lot more.  And I'm not afraid to share it.
 
I also understand that giving you this information puts myself and my ability to sell on Amazon at risk.  I really and truly don't care.  I was sickened when I first discovered the fake reviews, and I'm still sickened.  Amazon has no integrity.  None.  Except to their own bottom line.
 
You have my personal email address.  My home physical address is (removed for Booklikes).  My phone number is (removed for Booklikes).  I only answer the phone if I know who's calling, so if your number comes up and I don't answer, you'll have to leave a message or I'll just delete the number from the log.  I'll get back to you.
 
Sincerely,
 
Linda Ann Wheeler Hilton
 
 
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text 2015-06-05 15:47
Addendum- Guns & Plagiarism

[reblogged from 38 Caliber Reviews]

 

Screenshot (10000)

 

Because nothing says targeted for the 12-18 yr old category like advising them to send someone to Hawaii.

 

Forget the discounts.  Everyone gives boring discounts.  Give them something of ‘value’.  Give a free make-over, a free consultation.  make it over-the-top.  Create a contest and the best entry wins a free iPad or a trip to Hawaii.  Make your offer something that really, really stands out and that sets you apart from your competition.6 Tips on How to Advertise More Effectively

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text 2015-04-10 15:29
It boggles the mind: An update on arrogance, hypocrisy, and deceit

http://lindahilton.booklikes.com/post/977093/when-arrogance-hypocrisy-and-deceit-all-come-together-in-one-place

 

Self-publishing author Sandy Nathan, who calls reviewers stupid and tells them how to review, who buys reviews and perhaps Amazon up-votes on fiverr, is a Vine Voice preferred reviewer on Amazon.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Prayers-Heart-Year-Old/product-reviews/1499632401/ref=cm_cr_pr_btm_link_2?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=recent&reviewerType=all_reviews&formatType=all_formats&filterByStar=all_stars&pageNumber=

2

 

 

"Vine Voice" reviewers are selected by Amazon and invited into the program.  The invitation is based at least in part on the reviewer's ranking, especially on how "helpful" their reviews are.  At least that's what Amazon says; the actual process of selection remains . . . mysterious.

 

Amazon Vine invites the most trusted reviewers on Amazon to post opinions about new and pre-release items to help their fellow customers make informed purchase decisions. Amazon invites customers to become Vine Voices based on their reviewer rank, which is a reflection of the quality and helpfulness of their reviews as judged by other Amazon customers.  (http://www.amazon.com/gp/vine/help)

 

Since it's very possible Sandy Nathan was buying "helpful" votes from fiverr sellers, was she essentially buying her way into the Vine program?  (Nathan has, apparently, been a Vine Voice reviewer since 2012, so it's not likely she used fiverr votes to get into the program, but it's possible.)

 

That "Vine Voice" label, along with other marks of Amazon reviewer status such as numerical ranking, implies a certain stamp of approval by Amazon that the review and the reviewer are somehow a little more credible than the average "Kindle Customer" or other screen name chosen by the reviewer.  After all, "Vine Voice" reviewers are chosen by Amazon,  One can't apply to be a Vine Voice reviewer; there are no auditions.

 

Even if the review written isn't of a Vine product, the review still shows the reviewer's tag of "Vine Voice."

 

I found Sandy Nathan's above review quite by accident last night.  After the news of Amazon's lawsuit against a supplier of fake product reviews was announced a few days ago, I went to check on some of the fiverr reviewers I'd tagged months ago.  Many had been removed from Goodreads, but none, not a single one, had ever been removed from Amazon.  I wasn't the only person reporting them, but still, nothing happened.

 

So last night I just went to the Amazon.com page and keyed in the name of an author I knew had been buying fiverr reviews and who was himself a fiverr reviewer, Michael Beas.  You can see my Booklikes report on Mr. Beas's relationship with fiverr here.

 

The first of Mr. Beas's books to come up on Amazon was Reflections: Prayers from the heart of a 14 year old boy.  As I skimmed down through the reviews written for this book last summer and fall, I recognized a lot of the old familiar fiverr account names:  Chloe H, R. Coker, Stan Law (who bought lots and lots and lots of fiverr reviews).  I wasn't shocked to see Sandy Nathan's name, because I already knew she was affiliated with fiverr as a buyer of reviews and other stuff, and because I knew she wrote in a shall we say spiritual vein. 

 

What did surprise me, however, was that "Vine Voice" seal of Amazon approval attached to her name.

 

In the wake of the recent lawsuit filed by Amazon against a company that sold "fake" product reviews, there's been additional attention given to Amazon's own policies on reviewing.

 

Two specific policies appear to apply to the Sandy Nathan "Vine Voice" situation.  I'll address the second one first, since it's more relative to what I've already posted.

 

Paid Reviews – We do not permit reviews or votes on the helpfulness of reviews that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind, including payment (whether in the form of money or gift certificates), bonus content, entry to a contest or sweepstakes, discounts on future purchases, extra product, or other gifts.

The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact. Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are already labeled, so additional disclosure is not necessary.

 

Reviews from the Amazon Vine program are designated by a green line (which I can't personally verify because I didn't take the time to go looking for a verified Vine Voice green lined review), but all reviews by a Vine Voicer receive that tag.  How many Amazon review readers are aware of the distinction?

 

Furthermore, however, if Amazon does not permit helpful votes to be purchased, what is their mechanism for verifying that?  How is anyone supposed to know that any given reviewer -- Vine Voice or not -- has achieved their ranking via legitimate votes or via purchased votes?

 

It should be noted, also, that fiverr.com has apparently cracked down somewhat on Gigs(r) openly offering such votes for sale, whether they are "like" votes on Facebook or Twitter or other sites, as they violate the Terms of Service on those sites.  No one has any way of knowing, of course, how many such votes anyone has already purchased.  Again, it is possible that Sandy Nathan purchased the votes that put her into the Vine Program and gave her reviews the added weight of credibility.

 

But there is another part of the Amazon review guidelines that applies to this situation.

  • Promotional Reviews – In order to preserve the integrity of Customer Reviews, we do not permit artists, authors, developers, manufacturers, publishers, sellers or vendors to write Customer Reviews for their own products or services, to post negative reviews on competing products or services, or to vote on the helpfulness of reviews. For the same reason, family members or close friends of the person, group, or company selling on Amazon may not write Customer Reviews for those particular items.

As an author, Sandy Nathan is not permitted by Amazon to post a negative review of a competing product.  Although Amazon used to specify that authors could not post negative reviews of other books in their own genre, the parameters were never spelled out.  Could an author of historical romances write negative reviews of contemporary romances?  Could an author of academic non-fiction write negative reviews of popular fiction? 

 

As a Vine Voice reviewer, however, Nathan is supposed to be scrupulously honest.  Well, we should all be at least reasonably honest, but for those bearing the Vine Voice tag, you would think a higher level of honesty on reviews was in order.  Of course it is quite possible that Sandy Nathan reviewed Michael Beas's because it's in the same sortof spiritual category that she writes in, but she's required by the Amazon guideline posted above to give a positive review . . . or none at all.  She can't, if she wants to abide by the review guidelines, be honest.  And yet honesty is required of Vine Voicers.

 

Amazon has filed suit against a supplier of paid, fake reviews.  It looks like maybe Amazon should either stop throwing stones from their own glass house, or sue themselves.

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text 2015-04-09 01:50
Amazon files suit against seller of fake reviews. (No, I'm not making this up.)

(Edited the title to better reflect the facts.)

 

http://www.geekwire.com/2015/amazon-files-first-ever-suit-over-fake-reviews-alleging-calif-man-sold-fraudulent-praise-for-products/

 

 

[snip]

 

Amazon has filed suit against the alleged operator of several sites that offer Amazon sellers the ability to purchase fake 4- and 5-star customer reviews of their products.

 

The suit, the first of its kind from the Seattle company, was filed in King County Superior Court against a California man, Jay Gentile, identified in Amazon’s filings as the operator of sites including buyazonreviews.com, buyamazonreviews.com, bayreviews.net and buyreviewsnow.com. The site also targets unidentified “John Does” also believed to be involved in the scheme.

 

The case is part of a broader effort by the company to crack down on fake reviews.

 

“While small in number, these reviews threaten to undermine the trust that customers, and the vast majority of sellers and manufacturers, place in Amazon, thereby tarnishing Amazon’s brand,” the suit says. “Amazon strictly prohibits any attempt to manipulate customer reviews and actively polices its website to remove false, misleading, and inauthentic reviews.

 

[end snip]

 

I don't have a gif for ROFLSHIAWMP.

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