TrustPilot is an interesting website..
The first word you read is obviously trust. But can you actually trust a lot of the reviews there?
Well when you are looking at reviews of the majority of companies then you could probably say yes. If you were to look up Tesla.com, you can see that they have a 2.6 star rating. Mostly this is to do with customer service issues, but they appear to be real reviews as the text is very human and detailed. Fair enough.
But the simple truth is that it doesn't really matter what TrustPilot say about Tesla. There are only two emotions that drive you to write an article unprompted - joy or anger - so you would expect there to be a majority of good and bad reviews. Who signs-up for a site just to say that it was OK. That is why so many sites like Booking.com request reviews, so that they get an idea of what the average reviewer thinks too. TrustPilot cannot do this, as they are not the agents for any of these people, they just receive angry or glowing reviews. Trustpilot have no knowledge or data as to who has used a given website or not. They have no direct way of verifying a review as real or fake.
This is part of the problem, they are just assuming that these reviews are real and mean anything at all.
You see the truth is that Trustpilot are a business and some companies use TrustPilot as their main marketing tool. You can have a look here at what TrustPilot service plans can be purchased, but essentially clients are buying the ability to improve their trustability in the eyes of their customers.
But surely this is all wrong isn't it? The whole point ot TrustPilot is that everyone stands on equal ground so that we can decide who to trust. Unfortunately not. When it comes to scammers, TrustPilot is definitely one of the most dangerous websites on the internet because people are told that they can trust it. The trust that people have for trustpilot can obviously be misused, leading to fraud being proliferated from such a site. Now this is dangerous talk as these giant online companies tend to sue people out of business pretty quickly, so let's start with a few examples so that everyone can see that we do have some evidence on our side.
How Does TrustPilot Work?
Let's start by looking up a few known scams on TrustPilot. Now there is an important point to mention here. TrustPilot works by URL. That is, it defines a company by a text string, or series of characters or letters. So if you look up John Lewis, you might get different versions of what John Lewis are:
Now some of these domains are obviously impersonators or scams or something as two hundred people are saying that they have received terrible service from JohnLewis.co which doesn't actually exist:
So what does this mean to us? Are there any inherent risks with the strategy that TrustPilot are following? Well certainly! If I was checking up on a website that I thought could be a scam, I might copy and paste the URL into the search box like so:
So the only results I am seeing are for that particular URL, so I am not being made aware if Bitcoin Rush have been changing their URL every six months for five years to 'archive' the bad reviews. Let's try a different way of looking them up:
Why Would We Doubt TrustPilot Reviews?
Well here we can see evidence that when a scammer starts to have their site labelled as a scam, they simply start using a new domain name and can regain the trust of potential victims. This is not a very well thought out practice. We can see by searching for the biggest online scam in the UK, Brexit Millionaire, that this is a very common occurrence:
They just start again and use TrustPilot as a means of inferring reliability. Most alarming, surely TrustPilot must be catching on to this, mustn't they?
Well signs are favourable as this is currently posted on the brexitmillionaire.investerscorp.com page:
Are There Examples Of TrustPilot Misleading People?
Well as you can see, TrustPilot have allowed them to change the name of the company and assert that this site is about scrapbooks! It really is beyond belief how the scammers have been allowed to run rings around TrustPilot here! How could TP allow for the scammers to rename Brexit Millionaire after it has finally become recognised as a scam!
You can still see one of our reviews below, and that they removed our review:
The problem is that it took them years to mark this site as a scam, even though we had warned them a hundred times, and for the longest period (as you can see above) it was our reviews that were being removed.
The only reason that this rather limp website took any action was because the regulators made them do it. They are not on top of this problem in any way at all and millions of pounds of UK money has been lost to scammers as a result of their inadequate efforts to protect people.
Their systems are simply algorithms and they have been used by the scammers to the benefit of the scammers. A simple text analysis tool built into a website will soon be overcome by hackers wishing to usurp opinions to make money. We would've thought that was obvious.
On the right you can clearly see that the scammers have changed every detail of their TrustPilot page after it has been outed as a scam. They have replaced their address with the address of a fish and chip shop that appears to still be in business, even though the website seems to have stopped working. The phone number still gets you through to a fish and chip shop in Chesterfield anyway.
This is just more proof that nothing is verified on TrustPilot, anyone can enter any details they wish to misdirect the public.
Just to give you some idea of how little work the scammers had to do to obscure their identity here, and how little they have bothered to complete the cover up, here is a video made today, after they have renamed brexitmillionaire.investerscorp.com to Ton Pigeon, the website at that address still has links to it's original TrustPilot site, proving that the TP article has been renamed:
Why aren't TrustPilot performing this test? Why aren't they monitoring the IP addresses used to change the details so that we have some hope of tracking down the scammers? Why aren't TrustPilot returning the data to read Brexit Millionaire as they should?
Are These Examples of Inadequate Policing?
We could definitely argue yes, how could any website claiming to be a source of reliable information even list a domain like brexitmillionaire.investerscorp.com ? It is one domain pretending to be another. It is simply unbelievable as a company or as a website from the ground up.
So that is the first part of the problem, but there is more.
You see the above page shows that this Brexit Millionaire site (and there are many of them) has the following distribution of star ratings:
But this is after they have removed the reviews which they have suddenly decided are suspicious. We can assure you that the vast majority of reviews on this TrustPilot page for Brexit Millionaire were fake. They had a ridiculous rating of over four stars for years! TrustPilot repeatedly removed our reviews in favour of the scam reviews and now they are pretending to be vigilant. As you can see, every single review of five stars has been removed and their rating has plummeted.
Well, let's put forward a little proof of this before the lawyers start calling, here is an example from March 2022:
OK so we are a bit rude here, but we promise it is just out of exasperation. TrustPilot is supposed to be a trustable site, and it is proceeding to favour the side of boiler room scammers rather than the people we are trying to protect! Very frustrating indeed we assure you...
Now that someone official has intervened they are acting all high and mighty even though they are arguably the biggest part of the problem.
TrustPilot's Paying Sites
Now those types of scammers - the Brexit Millionaire/Bitcoin Rush/Immediate Edge scammers, are obvious and known scams. They only take in those who never read the small print and are an easy target, but there is an even more alarming type of TrustPilot review. The TrustPilot review that is paying to ensure that they have a lot of control and visibility of their reviews and has the greatest possible opportunity to increase trust in their service. These types of companies use TrustPilot as their main marketing and sales platform. These types of companies specialise in performing services that the customer is perfectly capable of performing themselves, and probably just doesn't realise it.
Welcome to the world of the scam recovery companies.
A scam recovery company specialises in making a case to your bank for said bank to reverse the transaction made (often in what is called a chargeback) and refund you your money after you have provided evidence that it was a scam. You do pay your bank after all and they should be taking action to prevent you being swindled with bank transfers and the like. This service provided by the se recovery companies usually costs a lot of money upfront, and it is something you could do at least as effectively yourself as you need to provide the evidence only you possess anyway.
These types of companies rely on their trustpilot score as their main source of prospects as everyone who has been scammed has learned that they need to check companies out in advance. That is why they always address every negative review quickly and remove as many negative reviews as they can by claiming that they are spam or competition or whatever. As they are paying customers, trustpilot are only too happy to oblige.
Now these companies are not breaking the law, just using a lack of knowledge on behalf of the scam victims to get another bite of the cake. They know that the people who have been scammed have limited knowledge of legal and financial regulations, otherwise they would not have been scammed, and so they know that if they have hundreds of positive reviews and no bad reviews, people will sign up for their recovery services and hand over a substantial fee for a service that basically involved sending a few letters. They are protected in the small print from having to return said fee, as well as from having any obligation in your territory whatsoever, as their companies are almost certainly registered overseas.
You do have to ask how the total value of stars is calculated too. When we look at a company like Payback-Ltd.com, the majority of plausible reviews appear to be highly negative, and yet they are sporting an overall rating (the first thing anyone looks at when seeking advice) of 4.3 stars out of 5!
Surely a review that describes itself as:
Payback are a very dependable and very honest company.
has to be carefully considered. Who writes that something is honest? Surely you expect that of anyone you meet or do business with, don't you? It just seems so odd that our reviews warning people of scammers could be removed and this review left in place. They only write one sentence and it still stands?
So what can we tell you about using TrustPilot to get a real opinion of something that may be fraudulent? Well the simple truth is that when it comes to avoiding scams, TrustPilot is one of the most dangerous sites around. It preaches safety, but falls a long way short of offering any kind of protection. Their methods are naive at best, and their tactics leave huge gaps for misdirection, and the scammers can get their company names removed even after they have been outed as scammers!
If you are concerned that something is a scam, we highly recommend that you pay attention to the basic points in this video to help avoid online scams. There is nothing surprising here, it just mentions the simple truth about most scam videos and only lasts a moment. None of it should surprise you.
VERDICT: TRUSTPILOT IS NOT ADEQUATE TO PROTECT YOU FROM SCAMMERS!
You must stay aware of their scammer tactics. Any website hurrying your decisions could be a scammer. Autotrading platform websites are almost certainly scammers. Get rich quick sites are almost certainly scammers.