3rd Party Seller Consultants Indicted For Bribing Amazon Employees
September 22, 2020
According to an indictment issued by a Grand Jury in the Western District of Washington, six individuals conspired to pay Amazon employees over $100,000 to secure an “unfair competitive advantage” on Amazon Marketplace. They are charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, and conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization. Prosecutors allege that the accused acted as consultants to third-party sellers on Amazon. At least 10 Amazon employees and contractors received kickbacks to conduct fraudulent activities, which included reinstating suspended merchant accounts and product listings that had been removed due to safety complaints. Among the sellers were questionable dietary supplements and electronics that proved to be faulty and flammable. “The fraudulently reinstated accounts included accounts that Amazon had suspended for manipulating product reviews to deceive consumers, making improper contact with consumers and other violations of Amazon’s seller policies and codes of conduct,” said the DOJ. The corrupted employees facilitated attacks against competitors by sharing business intelligence, suspending other third-party consultant accounts, sharing confidential data relating to Amazon’s algorithms and procedures, and paving the way for the consultants to flood rival products with fake reviews.
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