5-Star Enforcement and the Increasing Laws

Does your organization promote to customers or companies that may go away opinions or price your merchandise? Whether or not your clients can go away opinions in your web site or one other public-facing evaluate platform, firms ought to concentrate on new developments within the client evaluate enforcement area which will influence the way you publicize and conduct your product ranking and evaluate system.  If you’re not conscious of the increasing client evaluate laws, it may price your organization thousands and thousands and even land you in jail.


Part 5 of the Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) Act (the Act) prohibits unfair and misleading acts and practices. Particularly, because the Act pertains to buyer opinions: detrimental buyer opinions and rankings can’t be suppressed or hidden; any incentives for opinions should be disclosed; materials connections between a reviewer and the reviewed product should be disclosed; and evaluate gating is prohibited. The FTC has heightened its concentrate on client opinions as of late and proposed revisions to the Endorsement Guides for advertisers that might tighten enforcement in opposition to posting false constructive opinions or manipulating client notion by suppressing detrimental opinions, amongst different issues. The proposed guideline revisions would state that “in procuring, suppressing, boosting, organizing, or enhancing client opinions of their merchandise, advertisers shouldn’t take actions which have the impact of distorting or in any other case misrepresenting what customers consider their merchandise.” See Federal Register, Guides Regarding the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Promoting, Part IV (C) (July 26, 2022), https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/07/26/2022-12327/guides-concerning-the-use-of-endorsements-and-testimonials-in-advertising. Along with broadening its Endorsement Guides, the FTC has already demonstrated a major enhance in client evaluate enforcement—together with pursuing elevated penalties and new priorities like evaluate hijacking.


In February 2023, Hadis Nuhanovic, a service provider guide, was sentenced to twenty months in jail for participating in a worldwide scheme wherein he bribed staff of a know-how platform to take away detrimental on-line opinions on his purchasers’ merchandise and reinstate suspended accounts, amongst different unlawful actions reminiscent of stealing delicate firm data associated to product-review rankings and focusing on his purchasers’ opponents on the platform. Nuhanovic, along with a co-defendant, reached out to platform staff in India and bribed them to acquire unfair benefits for his personal enterprise’ acquire. For instance, Nuhanovic admitted that he paid a platform worker to take away detrimental opinions and additional admitted that he operated a number of sham accounts—created utilizing false data—to buy merchandise from retailers and submit detrimental opinions about them, with the intention of deceiving customers and harming the focused accounts. Moreover, Nuhanovic used his sham accounts to depart constructive opinions for his most popular accounts, additional deceiving customers and enhancing the location of sure favored merchandise in searches.

Along with the evaluate bribes, Nuhanovic was investigated for different associated crimes to which he finally pled responsible. He was sentenced to 3 years of supervised launch on prime of the 20 months in jail and compelled to forfeit $100,000 and pay $160,000 in unreported taxes.


“Assessment hijacking” happens when an organization—in promoting its services or products—steals or repurposes opinions of one other services or products it affords. Assessment hijacking constitutes false promoting and might happen when an organization merges its new merchandise with totally different, older however extra established merchandise that have already got rankings, opinions or badges on a web site.

In its first enforcement motion focusing on buyer evaluate hijacking, on February 16, 2023, the FTC obtained a consent settlement with The Bountiful Firm (Bountiful) for “manipulating product pages and deceiving customers” that included a $600,000 cost for client financial reduction. As alleged by the FTC, Bountiful abused a characteristic, which allowed the corporate to trick customers into believing that its newly launched merchandise had extra rankings and opinions, greater common rankings, and “#1 Finest Vendor” badges. Some platforms have a characteristic that enables distributors to put new merchandise on the identical product element web page as older variations with the overall rankings, common star ranking and opinions for all merchandise within the variation relationship; Bountiful, nonetheless, allegedly took benefit of that characteristic to promote its complement merchandise with totally different formulations to spice up visibility and enhance gross sales.

The FTC views this sort of evaluate hijacking as clearly misleading and unfair to customers and thus, has heightened its concentrate on firms who use this follow to spice up new merchandise’ rankings and opinions.


The FTC and US Division of Justice’s broad enforcement signifies the businesses’ pattern towards pushing the boundaries on holding firms accountable for deceiving customers. Enforcement actions like Nuhanovic may sign a brand new prison strategy by the businesses to carry firms and people accountable for client deception, significantly because it pertains to buyer opinions.

In response to Nuhanovic, some platforms have indicated they’ve methods in place and groups organized to detect, examine and cease suspicious or criminal activity and maintain unhealthy actors accountable. Corporations with related product evaluate or ranking methods ought to arrange detection methods and stay vigilant of makes an attempt each internally and externally to govern buyer notion or be ready to face the results.