According to the US Department of Justice, those charged as consultants and worked with third-party vendors whose products had previously been removed from the Amazon marketplace got items back on the platform. Six then paid more than $ 100,000 in bribes to at least 10 Amazon employees in exchange for reinstating banned products or services, indecency charges. Prosecutors said the products included household items, consumer electronics and dietary supplements.
US Attorney Brian Moran said in a statement, “The biggest victim of this criminal conduct is the buying public who should be removed from the market.” As the world moves faster in online commerce, we must ensure that The market should not be corrupted by unfair benefits derived from bribes and kickbacks. “
Accused of bribery and wire fraud
Federal officials accused Ephraim Rosenberg of Brooklyn, New York; Joseph Nilsson and Kristen Laceis of New York City; Hadith Nuhanoviv of Acworth, Georgia; Rohit Kadimisetti of Northridge, California; And Nishad Kunju of Hyderabad, India, with conspiracy to commit commercial bribes, conspiracy to use protected computers, wire fraud and other violations. Kunju of India was involved in the scheme as an Amazon employee, but later became one of the advisors, excluding the retailer, the prosecution claims.
Federal officials allege that Amazon employees who were bribed disclosed revenue information about other third-party vendors to consultants or temporarily suspended the accounts of some sellers. The Justice Department said the staff specifically targeted third-party vendors that competed with vendors working with six consultants.
Six prosecutors also helped states access the Amazon Marketplace’s operating procedures and algorithms in the indictment. Prosecutors said the data, which included insights into how search engines and product reviews work, gave Six an unfair competitive advantage over third-party vendors explaining how to post their products.
“Realizing that they could not compete on a level playing field, subjects turned to bribery and fraud to gain the upper hand,” Raymond Duda, an FBI agent in Seattle, said in a statement. “What’s equally concerning is, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but they also tried to harm and discredit their rivals.”
In a statement, Amazon said on Friday that it was “allegedly frustrated by the actions of this limited group of former employees” as alleged in the plan. “The company has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior,” the technology company said.
The six accused face up to five years in prison for commercial bribery and up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud. He will appear in court on October 15 in Seattle.