E-commerce reputation manipulation: The emergence of reputation-escalation-As-A-service

Haitao Xu, Daiping Liu, Haining Wang, Angelos Stavrou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

56 Scopus citations


In online markets, a store's reputation is closely tied to its profitability. Sellers' desire to quickly achieve high reputation has fueled a profitable underground business, which operates as a specialized crowdsourcing marketplace and accumulates wealth by allowing online sellers to harness human laborers to conduct fake transactions for improving their stores' reputations. We term such an underground market a seller-reputation-escalation (SRE) market. In this paper, we investigate the impact of the SRE service on reputation escalation by performing in-depth measurements of the prevalence of the SRE service, the business model and market size of SRE markets, and the characteristics of sellers and offered laborers. To this end, we have infiltrated five SRE markets and studied their operations using daily data collection over a continuous period of two months. We identified more than 11,000 online sellers posting at least 219,165 fake-purchase tasks on the five SRE markets. These transactions earned at least 46,438 in revenue for the five SRE markets, and the total value of merchandise involved exceeded 3,452,530. Our study demonstrates that online sellers using SRE service can increase their stores' reputations at least 10 times faster than legitimate ones while only 2.2% of them were detected and penalized. Even worse, we found a newly launched service that can, within a single day, boost a seller's reputation by such a degree that would require a legitimate seller at least a year to accomplish. Finally, armed with our analysis of the operational characteristics of the underground economy, we offer some insights into potential mitigation strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWWW 2015 - Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781450334693
StatePublished - May 18 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event24th International Conference on World Wide Web, WWW 2015 - Florence, Italy
Duration: May 18 2015May 22 2015

Publication series

NameWWW 2015 - Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on World Wide Web


Other24th International Conference on World Wide Web, WWW 2015


  • E-Commerce
  • Fake Transaction
  • Reputation Manipulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Software


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