Amazon's Fake Reviews

Amazon Trolls and Fake Reviews

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Amazon is being sued for leaving fake reviews.  Fake reviews do two things–convince buyers to purchase books they would not otherwise buy and convince buyers to avoid purchasing books they would otherwise buy.  Paid reviewers sell paid reviews in the range of 5 reviews for $50 and 50 reviews for $500.  That’s a small price to pay for the increased sales.  The federal government, however, has decided this is fraud, making it more than just against Amazon’s policies; it’s illegal and a felony.  So far, the paid reviewers caught doing this have had their homes, cars, and bank accounts confiscated and have been given community service.  No jail time…yet.  For the authors, their editors, and their publishers, who hide behind corporations, there doesn’t appear to be any penalty other than word of mouth getting out that they’re fakes.

In less than four hours we were able to find over 200 obviously fake reviews posted on Amazon for gardening books by Skyhorse Publishing, Timber Press Publishing, and Cool Springs Press.  The authors involved in this fraud are Julie Bawden-Davis from Skyhorse, Beverly Turner from Skyhorse, Fiona McDonald from Skyhorse, Janit Calvo from Timber Press, and Katie Elzer Peters from Cool Springs Press.  There also appear to be a large number of paid fake reviews left by the staff of miniature-gardening.com for these authors and their books in exchange for fake reviews of their products.

Below we have listed the fake reviews left on Amazon for these authors’ books.  Most were paid for, either in cash or in exchange for favorable reviews of their own products or in exchange for free books and gifts.  These paid reviewers left five and four star reviews for their clients’ books while trashing their competitors’ books.  There was a direct correlation between Janit Calvo’s books and Julie Bawden-Davis’s books.  Both are daughters of publishers which has given them access to people in the publishing industry who know where to find the fake reviewers and how to get them out there.  Julie Bawden-Davis is famous for taking the work of others and stamping her name to it, like Fiona McDonald.  Both are “authors” at Skyhorse Publishing and work for Julie Matysik, the same editor who plagiarized Molly MacKenna’s Fairy Gardening 101 book and then paid fake reviewers to trash her books.  They continued to harass Molly and even left comments on her site threatening her children.  :0

Take a look at what we found this afternoon.  The way to spot a fake review is pretty easy when you know what you’re looking for.  A young woman from Florida was kind enough to let us know exactly how it’s done and what to look for.

1.  Most fake reviewers have 50 to 100 Amazon accounts in a three month period.  They keep track of the names in spreadsheets.  They often use the names of dead people from the obituary in their hometown and they always use prepaid Visa cards to make their purchases on Amazon so it appears as a “verified purchase”.  Once they’ve successfully contracted with an author to leave five star reviews for their books, they seek out other authors in the same genre.  They move along to other subject areas quickly, however, so you’ll often find their reviews are a mixed bag.  For example, a reviewer professing to be a grandmother reading young adult novels about gay boys.  If you read the reviews themselves they also are a mixed bag–one moment the reviewer is a man and the next she is a woman.

2.  Since the fake reviewers use fake names, often the names of real people, they have to prove to the author that the review is theirs.  The reviewer who contacted us and gave us an insider’s view said look at the birthdates.  One reviewer who has over 50 names and left similar reviews for the same books on our list under different names has the same birthdate under all reviews, August 22.  Another one is August 25.  After reading over 100 reviews with those two birthdates, we were convinced.  It’s the same two people.  Very clever, aren’t they?

Without further delay, here they are.

We found 90 fake reviews for Julie Bawden-Davis and Beverly Turner’s Fairy Gardening book, published by Julie Matysik at Skyhorse Publishing:

  1. Amazon Customer Amazon Troll Julie Bawden David Beverly Turner Michelle Inciarrano – Copy
  2. Angela Morgan Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  3. Anne Katherine Garrison Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  4. Arlene Werner Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  5. B Trujillo Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  6. Barbie Calvo Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  7. Bellas Dad Amazon Troll Julie Bawden David Beverly Turner – Copy
  8. Beth Seymour Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  9. Camille Pryor Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  10. Carol Olmstead Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner Debra Lee Baldwin – Copy
  11. Carol W Hall Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  12. Carolyn Caskey Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  13. Cheryl Hurst Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  14. Cindy H McDaniel Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  15. Colleen Cleveland Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  16. Dann Martel Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  17. Debbie Massine Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  18. Deborah A Cossins Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  19. Denise Eaton Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  20. Dianna Kulwicki Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  21. Dragons Folly Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  22. Elaine DeMicco Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  23. ET Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  24. Evonne Tuholsky Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  25. Gerald Nechia Lee Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  26. Gina Caridi Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  27. Happy Grandma is No Grandma Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  28. Irina Rojas Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  29. James M Rajchel Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  30. James Stephen Amanda Stanley Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  31. Jay Rogers Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  32. Jean E Brown Thornton Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  33. Jean Lindsey Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  34. Joan Gilmartin Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  35. JoAnn Reilly Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  36. John Bauer Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  37. Judy Y Porter Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  38. Julie Bawden Davis Amazon Troll Beverly Turner Skyhorse Publishing – Copy
  39. Julie Matysik Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  40. Julie Matysik II Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  41. Karen Bergevin Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  42. Karen Hanson Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  43. Karen S Lebeter Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  44. Kathleen Trader Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  45. Kathy Wright Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  46. Katie Weissberg Amazon Troll Julie Bawden David Beverly Turner – Copy
  47. KCathy Little Rock Arkansas Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  48. Kelly Sherman Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  49. Lara J Nance Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  50. Laurie A Zimmerman Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  51. Leanne Crawford Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  52. Linda D Pratt Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  53. Linda Hass Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  54. Linda Parker Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  55. Lisa Shambrook E Avery Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  56. Lynn A Lomax Sparks Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  57. Lynne V Davidson Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  58. Mark Newman Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  59. Marsha Baker Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  60. Marta Betts Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  61. Martha Evans Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  62. Mary Ann Zenger Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  63. Melody Fitzgerald Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  64. Mike Bastida Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  65. Minnie Kansman Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  66. Murva R Millbradt Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  67. Nana Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  68. Nelda Johnson Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  69. Noel C Spaso Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  70. Ohio Grama Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  71. Pam Johnson Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  72. Patricia Lentos Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  73. Patricia Uzzo Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  74. Penny Massey Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  75. Peter A Duecker Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  76. Phillis Ossinger Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  77. RDM Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  78. Rebecca VanderHeide Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  79. Robin M Jackson Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  80. RSF Reader Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  81. Starshine Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  82. Steffani Ricarte Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  83. Steven Bawden Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  84. Suanne Carkhuff Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  85. Susan Hayes Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  86. Susan Lampp Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  87. Susan Szanto Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  88. Suzanne G Elsner Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  89. Terry Noxel Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy
  90. Wendy Huber Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner – Copy

We found 6 fake reviews for Fiona McDonald’s (plagiarized) Fairy Gardening 101 book, published by Julie Matysik at Skyhorse Publishing:

  1. Cape Lady Amazon Troll Fiona McDonald – Copy
  2. Dorothy Bagley Amazon Troll Fiona McDonald – Copy
  3. Fiona Rose McDonald Amazon Troll Skyhorse Publishing – Copy
  4. Gnome Friend Amazon Troll Fiona McDonald – Copy
  5. Movie Buff Amazon Troll Fiona McDonald – Copy
  6. Stephen C Prokop Amazon Troll Fiona McDonald – Copy

We found 85 fake reviews for Janit Calvo’s Gardening in Miniature book, published by Andrew Beckman at Timber Press Publishing:

  1.  Agnes Simon Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  2. Alejandra Ramos Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  3. Amber Turtle Soap Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  4. Andrea Julia Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  5. Annie Calvo Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  6. Annie Calvo II Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  7. Athena S Thaler Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  8. Barbara F Talley Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  9. Barbara Rosen Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  10. Beverly Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  11. Brenda Rose Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  12. Carol W Hall Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Beverly Turner – Copy
  13. Carole Gunderson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  14. Carolyn Stines Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  15. Cathy Chappius Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  16. Cathy Doss Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  17. Deborah Ford Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  18. Diane Davidson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  19. Diane M Jones Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  20. Donna B Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  21. Donna Calvo Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  22. Fanny Obadia Two Thumbs Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  23. Gail Charree Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  24. Gale V Deleonardis Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  25. Gerald Nechia Lee Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Beverly Turner – Copy
  26. Happy Camper Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  27. J Biscoe Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  28. Jack W English Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  29. Janet Gordon Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  30. Janice E Chapman Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  31. Jean E Brown Thornton Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Beverly Turner – Copy
  32. Jenny Wilson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  33. Jodie Ball Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  34. Jorge Simao Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  35. Joshua Calvo Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  36. Juanita S Storms Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  37. Julia Giessler Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  38. Julie Matysik II Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Beverly Turner – Copy
  39. Karen S Lebeter Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Beverly Turner – Copy
  40. Kate Bowden Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  41. Kathy Duncan Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  42. Kelly A Carey Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  43. Kelly Mattocks Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  44. La Faye Kotz Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  45. Laura A Amenta Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  46. Laura Maiorana Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Tovah Martin Amy Bryant Aiello – Copy
  47. Leslie Miseyko Deerfield Beach FL Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  48. Linda Al-Sangar Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  49. Linda Steiner Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  50. Lisa Seldon Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  51. Lisa Tobleman Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  52. Lynn C Anderson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  53. Margaret Deemer Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  54. Marie Gauld Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  55. Marsha Clark Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Amy Bryant Aiello All Publishers – Copy
  56. Martha Rimmer Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  57. Mary Cole Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  58. Mary Harvey Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  59. Meehan Parr Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  60. Melanie S Gousset Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  61. Melissa Calvo Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  62. Melissa Gifford Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  63. Michelle Roberts Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  64. Mike Bastida Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Beverly Turner – Copy
  65. Nadine Drake Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Michelle Inciarrano – Copy
  66. Norman Calvo Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  67. Olena Tarasova Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  68. Patti Tobin Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  69. Pilar Hernandez Silva Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  70. Ray Johnson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  71. Ray Johnson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters Debra Lee Baldwin – Copy
  72. Rebecca Brink Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  73. Richard Lundvall Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Michelle Inciarrano – Copy
  74. Rosemary Stull Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  75. Rosemary W Willson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  76. Runner Tee Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  77. S C Fore Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  78. Saundra Popa Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  79. Shannon Calvo Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  80. Sharon R Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  81. Suzanne Feit Norman Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  82. Tempest Hall Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  83. Terri Pearce Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  84. Victoria Whitney Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy
  85. Virginia L Ryman Amazon Troll Janit Calvo – Copy

The same fake reviewers who left Janit Calvo’s book five stars trashed many of her competitor’s books, including Molly MacKenna’s Fairy Gardening 101 book.  Janit has also publicly attacked Molly on Pinterest, leaving insulting and threatening remarks on her pins and then demanding that Pinterest remove many of her pins, even pretending to be Molly to have those pins removed.  Janit is Canadian, not American, and runs a shop in Seattle, close to the Canadian border.  The daughter of a publisher, she has enjoyed a privileged life, but has marred the publishing world with her bad behavior.

We found 20 fake reviews (which is all of them) for Katie Elzer Peters’ Miniature Gardens book, which she self-published with Ray Wolf at Cool Springs Press:

  1. Amazon Customer Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  2. Andrea Julia Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  3. Barbara Bach Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  4. Carol J Michel Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  5. Deborah Gagnon Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  6. Deborah Murphy Kerr Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  7. E R Betsy Lunde Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  8. Geralyn M Mayo Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  9. Ginny Sharp Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  10. J Biscoe Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  11. Jan St Louis Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  12. John Fobert Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  13. Julie Matysik Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  14. Kenny Twoshirts Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  15. Linda Steiner Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  16. Margaret Bingham Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  17. Patricia Askins Amazon Troll Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  18. Ray Johnson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters – Copy
  19. Ray Johnson Amazon Troll Janit Calvo Katie Elzer Peters Debra Lee Baldwin – Copy
  20. Starshine Amazon Troll Julie Bawden Davis Beverly Turner Katie Elzer Peters – Copy

We found 6 fake reviews left for Molly’s books by the same reviewers working for Skyhorse Publishing (Julie Matysik) and Timber Press (Janit Calvo and Andrew Beckman):

  1. Apostolia Fioretzi Amazon Troll – Copy
  2. Gerald A Bowers Amazon Troll – Copy
  3. Janis Stevenson Amazon Troll – Copy
  4. Jean E Brown Amazon Troll – Copy
  5. Lesley Smith Amazon Troll – Copy
  6. Sharon Christiansen Amazon Troll – Copy

Sharon Christiansen is a close personal friend of Janit Calvo’s who uses multiple Amazon accounts under variations of the name “Diablo Girl” to trash Janit’s competitors’ books.  You can see her circle of friends on her Pinterest boards, www.pinterest.com/diablogirl/.  She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, is a former landscape designer, and aspiring watercolor artist.

 

Sharon Christiansen, close personal friend of Janit Calvo, bashing the competition
Sharon Christiansen, close personal friend of Janit Calvo, bashing the competition

What we learned from the fake reviewer who spoke with us is that they often start out giving the book they are trashing a three or four star review, especially if it looks obvious that they have not read the book.  After a few weeks or months, they go back in and change the rating to one star and trash the author’s book.  Although some of the fake reviewers do this to avert suspicion at Amazon, it appears there’s no need.  Many of the reviews we found were left by family members in their real names and Amazon didn’t blink.  Look at all the reviewers of the last name Calvo.

We hope this series has been informative.  As we learn, we teach.

One of Janit Calvo's Fake Reviews
One of Janit Calvo’s Fake Reviews

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