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Carbonite caught posting five-star Amazon reviews

By Barry Collins

Posted on 28 Jan 2009 at 11:29

The fallout from the Belkin Amazon review scandal continues, with online back-up firm Carbonite becoming the latest company to be caught posting its own five-star "user" reviews.

Instead of paying someone else to write the reviews, Carbonite decided to cut out the middleman and write the glowing testimonials itself.

A five-star review entitled "I've been waiting for this product for years" was written by the company's vice president of marketing, Swami Kumaresan. He left his name on the review, but didn't reveal that he worked for Carbonite.

Other reviews written by Carbonite employees were posted on the same day.

The fake reviews were spotted by blogger Bruce Goldsteinberg, who wasn't particularly impressed by Carbonite's tactics after his backup failed to restore.

"They [the fake reviews] were created around the same date - 31 October 2006 - all given 5 stars, and the reviewers all came from around the Boston, MA area, where Carbonite is located," Goldensteinberg writes. "You didn't need to be Dick Tracy to see what was done. A few Google searches later, and it was clear."

After being confronted by the New York Times, Carbonite has removed the reviews from Amazon.

"These 'reviews' on Amazon from 2006 should have sourced the authors as Carbonite employees," Carbonite's CEO David Friend told the New York Times.

"I will personally see that the reviews are updated to disclose their employment affiliation. Had they been brought to my attention, they would have been removed long ago. We do have a policy about such things. I apologise to anyone who was misled by these postings."

The New York Times claims, however, that Friend was made aware of the fake reviews as far back as September last year, on a blog post on the newspaper's website that he personally replied to.

Mr Friend was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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