Authorities say a grand jury in Washington State has charged six people for bribing Amazon employees to manipulate third-party seller lists on e-commerce sites, including lists of defective or dangerous products.
Starting in 2017, people including two former Amazon employees paid more than $100,000 to obtain a list of products and accounts that Amazon has blocked or suspended from its Marketplace, thereby allowing third-party sellers to promote and sell their products. Said the justice. Authorities said that these former employees also provided Amazon internal information, which allowed attacks on other third-party sellers and their accounts, including flooding with false negative reviews and the seller’s product listings.
Authorities said the defendants accessed the contact information of Amazon employees and customers, and they shared this information widely. Three of them live in New York, one in Georgia, one in California, and the other in India.
“Aware that they cannot compete in a level playing field, these entities turn to bribery and fraud to gain an advantage. It is also worrying that they not only try to increase the sales of their products, but also try to harm and harm their competitors. Creditworthiness,” FBI’s Seattle Special Commissioner Raymond Duda said in a statement.
The list of restored products includes dietary supplements that were deleted due to safety complaints, household electronic products that were marked as flammable, products that were deleted due to infringement of intellectual property rights, and other items. Some resumed accounts were suspended for posting deceptive product reviews, while others were deleted due to “improper contact”
The company said in a statement: “Amazon has an appropriate system to detect suspicious behavior of sellers or employees, and has a team to investigate and stop prohibited activities.” “We feel special about the behavior of this limited group of current former employees. Disappointed, and thank the law enforcement agencies for their cooperation and support to bring them and the bad actors entangled with them to justice.”
This summer, Amazon’s ongoing struggle with third-party sellers and their markets became the focus of attention, as lawmakers questioned CEO Jeff Bezos on counterfeiting issues at an antitrust hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee and alleged Retailer’s own anti-competitive behavior: Amazon owns the company and denies this accusation because the company is accused of copying Marketplace products to create its own competing products.
Analysts estimate that third-party sellers account for about half of the site’s sales. Third-party sellers appear in the regular Amazon product catalog with a line of text indicating that Amazon itself is not the actual seller.
The six defendants in Washington State face charges of wire fraud, bribery and unauthorized access to protected computer systems. Allegations of wire fraud can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.