I’ve been asked many times how a niche site like SupplementReviews.com can compete with the sheer volume of reviews on sites like Amazon and Bodybuiding.com. I always give the same answer - we value quality over quantity.
Normally, we focus our attention on our own site. We don’t usually spend time scoping out other review sources - until today. I noticed a user on reddit had posted a reply on a topic about scams with “And that’s why I stick to Amazon reviews”. I wanted to check out how trustworthy Amazon reviews really were, so I started my research.
A quick search on Amazon for a Natural Testosterone Booster returned “Ubervita UberMax” as the number one top selling product for this category. It had a 4.6/5 stars after a whopping 580 customer reviews! This must be a great product if it has such great reviews (is what everyone must be thinking).
So, we decided to do some investigation into these reviews and what we found was much worse than we thought. In fact, it was HORRIFIC!
A quick look at the “Most Helpful Customer Reviews” raised more questions than answers.
Under “Most Helpful Customer Reviews,” we see the top 8 reviews listed, and all of them are 5/5 stars. Let’s dive into these and take a closer look.
The first thing we notice is that out of the 8 most helpful reviews, 7 of them were written on either August 18th or 19th. Why would 7 of the 8 top reviews be all left within a 2-day window? This is already looking quite suspicious.
Let’s take a closer look at the reviewers behind the top 8 reviews:
Review #1 “T. Politiski”: This user has 12 total reviews, 11 of which are for other Ubervita products. No surprise, he rates 10 at 5/5 and 1 at 4/5 stars.
Review #2 “Vince”: Has 20 total reviews, 5 of which are for other Ubervita products. Every single review he has ever done is a 5/5. Seems like an easy grader.
Review #3 “Samual M Myers”: His review text says that he has tried many other similar products from Amazon, and Ubervita is the best. His reviews show a different story. The only supplement he has ever reviewed is this one, and his only other reviews are of books.
Review #4 “Scott”: He has 9 reviews on amazon, all 5/5 stars. 5 of them are Ubervita products. Another easy grader.
Review #5 “Tyler”: Tyler only has 3 reviews on amazon, all are 5/5 stars, and all are for Ubervita products.
Review #6 “Dave”: Only has reviewed 2 supplements, both are 5/5 stars for Ubervita.
Review #7 “wade hool”: 89 total reviews, 12 of which are for Ubervita and all happen to be 5/5 stars.
Review #8 “Lindsey Stout”: Only 3 reviews for supplements which are all 5/5 star UberVita reviews. Her review is 39 words, in which she admits that they are getting a free product for reviewing, and it’s her husband who has been taking it, not her.
Out of these 8 “Most Helpful” reviews, ZERO of them would be accepted on SupplementReviews.com. First of all, the longest of these reviews is 197 words. Our minimum word count is 400 words, so they wouldn’t even be able to click the “Submit” button. Next, each review is so thin, they would never make it through our Manual Approval Process. Furthermore, we check to see which products you’re reviewing - if you post 10 perfect reviews for one brand, you’ll never get your reviews approved. Last, you can’t write a review if you didn’t take the product.
It gets worse. If these are the “Most Helpful” reviews, I had to see what the next 572 reviews looked like.
As I read through the reviews, I noticed many disturbing, recurring themes:
Reviewers admit they haven’t used the product - Seriously? How can you review a product you admit that you’ve never used it? (example 1) (example 2) (example 3) (example 4) (example 5) (example 6) (example 7) (example 8)
Reviewers admit they just started taking it - Our policy on SR is that you must complete a container before posting a review, otherwise there’s no way you can post an accurate review. I guess Amazon doesn’t care? (example 1) (example 2)
Reviews of the wrong product - There are numerous examples of reviewers who say that they are reviewing a different product. (example)
Some reviews must be jokes - This guy talks about how he doesn’t beat his wife and kids anymore after taking their product and then gives it 5 stars. (example)
Most reviews were completely lacking any detail - The average review seemed to be just “Great product, I got good results”. The reviewers typically fail to justify or support their rating in any way . (example)
*Note about examples: I found literally hundreds more reviews that fell into one or more of these themes, but it would be a waste of time to link to every single review.
We even caught one reviewer stealing a before/after photo that wasn’t theirs.
One review caught my attention. They went so far as to use a before/after image in their review, but didn’t really go into much detail.
A reverse image search revealed the original source of the image as a post on Reddit. The author didn’t mention anything about Ubervita, so I went ahead and asked if it was his review. He confirmed that he did not post that review:
But wait, there’s more.
Only 50 out of the 580 reviews were “Verified Purchases”. So fewer than 10% of the reviewers had actually bought the product through Amazon. Given the fact that the only place to really buy this product is Amazon, this seemed extremely suspicious.
Two-Thirds of reviews appeared in just ten days. At the time of writing, reviews for this product ranged from 7/19/2015 to 10/5/2015, or 79 days of reviews.
35% of reviews appeared in the 3-day period of 8/18 to 8/20, or an average of 68 reviews per day.
31% of reviews appeared in the first week of 7/19 to 7/25, or an average of 26 reviews per day.
34% of reviews appeared in the other 69 days this product has been reviewable, or an average of 3 reviews per day.
Here’s a graph that shows frequency of reviews and a 7-day moving average. Notice the big push at the beginning and the big spike around 8/19? If the reviews were naturally occurring, you’d expect a more even distribution of review dates.
Let’s take a deeper dive into those first 30 reviewers.
Out of the first 30 reviews on this product (between July 19th and 20th), here’s what we found out:
27 of them had reviewed multiple Ubervita products. Clearly Ubervita was calling in some favors from their loyal followers.
Of the 3 who did not already review Ubervita products, 2 of them only had one review.
14 of them have ONLY reviewed Ubervita products. Almost half of these reviewers had no other items in their review history than Ubervita products.
12 of them gave only 5/5 star reviews to Ubervita products.
The average number of total reviews per user is 10.6, average number of ubervita reviews per user is 4.8.
Out of all the Ubervita reviews they wrote, the average review of 4.92/5. (144 reviews)
Only ONE review was a “Verified Purchaser”, and that was the very first review, and also Review #1 on the “Most Helpful” reviews list which we already discussed if you remember, Mr. “T. Politiski”. He has 12 total reviews, 11 of which are for Ubervita products, and 10 of which are 5/5 stars.
It’s obvious that brands are gaming the system.
The data paints a clear picture: reviews on Amazon are easily manipulated by the brand. You don’t get the full story just by looking at the “4.6/5 stars, 580 Customer Reviews” figure. There’s a lot more going on behind the rating than meets the eye.
In the end, Amazon is letting the brands win.
You need to pick your trusted sources carefully. Many consumers falsely assume that the reviews on Amazon are trustworthy, especially when there’s hundreds of reviewers all corroborating the same story. Our investigation clearly demonstrated that reviews on Amazon aren’t as trustworthy as we thought, and highlighted the importance finding a reliable source.
Here at SupplementReviews.com, we’re always on the lookout for brands who try to stuff the ballot. The world of supplements is filled with empty promises, marketing hype, and flat out lies. We’re dedicated to making sure that it’s impossible for brands to influence ratings on our site, and so far we’ve been very successful. See why SupplementReviews.com is still the most trusted source for supplement info on the internet.
October 12, 2015
I normally find Amazon reviews very helpful. However, you are right. Some are just fake to sell a product. Health supplements are one are that there is an abundance of fake reviews!
I find it helpful to look at 3 star reviews the most. The people who do that are more likely to give a balanced review. Of course there are some products which deserve one star.
I am new to this site. I hope it is reliable!
October 14, 2015
Great article! I have a friend that owns a brand that sells on Amazon. This stuff happens more than you know... and UberVita appears to be the kingpin of it all. It's a shame bc there are some great brands and honest sellers, such as my buddy, but it's getting to where it's nearly impossible for them to compete due to stuff like what's mentioned in your article.
I'm on UberVita's emails list and they get a ton of reviews by telling the list to post a review, send UberVita a link to the review, and they'll reward them with a free bottle afterwards... that's clearly against Amazon's TOS, but UberVita has gotten away with it for years. Check out this article about them: http://www.askmen.com/sports/health/diet-pills-scam-allegations-the-case-of-ubervita.html
October 27, 2015
Agreed with this and every other category. I did a test on Fiverr...and I was easily able to buy reviews from registered users and actually sell my owner services. Companies will go as far as giving you a coupon code to receive the product for free, but not actually ship it to you. Then it looks like the review is further trusting, because it's from a verified buyer. This is why I don't trust reviews from anywhere on Amazon.
January 1, 2016
Best Log in / Register
Imgur user presents evidence of Amazon Fraud
Impressive footwork. Keep it up!
People should see this so that it inspires them to do their research before buying products. It seriously matters on forums like eBay and Amazon.
Spread this find, people! Let's see if we can stir some actual action out of Amazon over this!
I just noticed that this was removed from Imgur. I used google's webcache, and while I can't see the images anymore, I can still see the image captions. I've copied and pasted them all here because I'm pissed that this was taken down.
When a prominent Amazon seller explained to me the rampant fraud that happens on Amazon, it opened up the floodgates to an interesting investigation. He pulled up companies that were practicing obvious fraud, all while Amazon turned a blind eye.
According to some Amazon sellers, review fraud on Amazon is rampant and obvious, and it fools a lot of people into buying fraudulent products, all while making scam artists millions of dollars in the process.
For this investigation, this was the product line that kicked it all off for us.
I know your first thought... it's a magic pill fat burner, of course they're full of crap. But that would be missing the point. This is happening in all different industries, it was just so blatantly obvious here that I decided to focus on this.
This has been the top selling fat loss supplement on Amazon for the past year. It's safe to assume they've sold tens of thousands of bottles.
Take a look at their reviews. A TON of 5 stars, plus a good amount of 1 stars,but overwhelmingly still 5's. Over the past 6 months, many more people have caught onto the practices and posted about it with 1 star reviews, but previously it was almost all 5 stars.
What initially threw up red flags on this listing is how quickly it shot to the top. Gaining hundreds and eventually thousands of unverified 5 star reviews at an incredible rate. At the same time, many of the other top sellers began getting hit with unverified 1 star reviews.
I could find nothing about UberVita selling anywhere except Amazon, and their history there was very young.
So, I started looking into who is behind UberVita. It's owned by a man named Sam Keeler living a couple hours from Seattle, in Manson, WA.
This is important for a few reasons, which I'll tie in over the next couple images.
It was hard to find much information on Sam, but here's something interesting. There apparetly is/was an employee at Amazon by the name of Sam Keeler.
This could be complete coincidence. But the Sam Keeler that owns UberVita very clearly knows what he's doing and it appears he has very extensive knowledge of the Amazon system. Could this be knowledge gained from being an employee?
Again, it could be a complete coincidence, but here's one of the addresses we found tied to a company owned by the same Sam Keeler from UberVita.
As you can see, it's just a short drive from the Amazon office in Seattle.
Looking into the reviews, there was a common theme. Many of the reviewers that left glowing reviews for UberVita had also left glowing reviews for products from a company called Eden Pond, and had left not a single other review.
I was already familiar with Eden Pond Labs because that was one of the companies we found while investigating Sam Keeler.
Now, it was time to look in to Eden Pond Labs.
Welp, another company owned by Sam Keeler.
Turns out there are several companies he has tied to over the past several years. Eden Pond Labs was the most prominent until UberVita.
Looking into Eden Pond Labs on Amazon, I found a similar pattern to what I saw with UberVita... a TON of unverified 1 star reviews, and looking at their competitors was even worse, as shown in the next image.
At this point I decided to purchase a product from UberVita and get a first hand look.
It arrived with this little postcard in it telling the customer to email them to learn how to get their next bottle for free. So, of course I had to email them and see.
Sidenote: This is against the TOS for an Amazon seller. The sellers are not allowed to take customer contact outside of Amazon, so directing them to their own email address is a blatant violation.
Here was their reply on exactly how to get a free bottle. Write a review, let them see it, then receive a free bottle.
Again, this is against Amazon TOS. Sellers are allowed to offer a product up front in exchange for an honest review, but they can not bribe by asking for a review first, to be rewarded with a free bottle.
Also notice the very blatant implication pointing out anything below a 5 star is a "negative" for them.
A few weeks later, I checked my mail. Keep in mind I had never given them my address, other than purchasing their product through Amazon, which was sold by one of UberVita's seller accounts (it has since been shut down) but fulfilled by Amazon.
This is the 3rd TOS violation. Sellers are not allowed to contact customers for marketing reasons; only to finalize a sale. They are also not allowed to contact customers outside of Amazon, which they are doing by sending mail to customers' homes.
The 4th TOS violation is also in this postcard, as they are again, asking the customer to leave a review and they will reward the action with a free bottle.
Damn, here they are contacting me outside of Amazon again.
Once more, it is asking for a review and they'll reward me with a free supplement.
Here is one of many reviews calling UberVita out on their suspicious activity.
Here is one of many reviews calling UberVita out on their suspicious activity.
Here is one of many reviews calling UberVita out on their suspicious activity.
What do those reviewers from above get for stating their opinions? A potential lawsuit.
This is a lawsuit filed by UberVita claiming they have been a victim of fraudulent attacks and negative reviews.
They also went through and began commenting in an aggressive manner, threatening the reviewers that left them 1 star reviews, with this lawsuit.
They subpoenaed Amazon for the information of the reviewers that they feel to be suspicious. They even asked for credit card information, but eventually backed off on the credit card info once they received some backlash for it.
Yet another email came in, but this time from "Spyder Nutrition" which I had never heard of, yet it was the exact same message I had seen from UberVita many times... asking for a review and they'll reward me with a free bottle.
Hopping on over to their product page, here they are gaining a bunch of glowing 5 star reviews, almost all unverified.
But a few people called them out on the shady practice of bribery. They may want to watch out for a lawsuit!
Here's the details on Spyder Nutrition. So, it's not owned by Sam Keeler.
But... I recognize that name. D. Corrina Saunders.
Oh, I know that name because I found another company tied to Sam Keeler's home address.
This one is owned by Dr. Danielle Saunders, however (same owner from Spyder Nutrition). Looking into Dr Danielle, I found the exact same pattern of extreme surges to the top and very suspicious review patterns.
Who is Dr. Danielle?
Turns out, it's Sam Keeler's girlfriend. Looks like he's teaching her every he knows.
This is the wonderful, totally real, non photoshopped picture she actually uses as her company image. I literally pulled this straight off the Facebook page.
This post has gotten ridiculously long (and this is just the summarized version), so let me conclude it here.
Why am I posting this?
I love Amazon. I spend thousands of dollars per year on goods from Amazon, as so many others do. I know we can't always believe what we read online, but there are a ton of people that don't realize that. Those are the people that could so easily fall into this type of activity. I think of people like my Mother, that are sweet and trusting and don't realize stuff like this goes on.
All of this information, and a lot more, has been submitted directly to Amazon and nothing has been done. The only disciplinary action that has been taken is shutting down one of Sam's seller accounts. There were more accounts up and selling within hours, so that barely even qualifies as a minor setback.
In fact, Amazon has since partnered with UberVita, as you can see in this image. UberVita and Eden Pond Labs are both now sold by Amazon, which means they have been added to the invite only Vendor program with Amazon. In a nutshell, Amazon partners with Vendors and helps grow their sales together.
This is simply the information I found during my extensive investigation, but it could be all coincidence and completely wrong.
I could be completely off my rocker and 100% wrong in all of this. You can make of it what you will.
This above reply is from a Reddit post. It's not my reply but I found it very interesting. Ubervita is no longer being sold on Amazon. However "Doctor Danielle turmeric " is being sold still and is currently number 1 on Amazon . Would you be able to check the reviews of that product ? Compare it to Ubervitas . Danielle Saunders aka Doctor Danielle and Sam Keeler are related some how or are bf/gf . They're both on each others Facebook page . It wasn't very difficult to locate them on Facebook.