According to reports, the US Department of Justice on Friday accused six people of participating in a plan to bribe Amazon employees and contractors in order to obtain an “unfair advantage” in the company’s online marketplace.
Federal prosecutors claim that since at least 2017, these people have used bribery and fraud to benefit third-party merchants selling goods on Amazon.com. According to the indictment, in some cases, these people worked with Amazon employees to restore suspended products that had been marked as unsafe.
The indictment stated that these people carried out complex but coordinated work, allegedly to bribe Amazon employees to obtain valuable data about third-party sellers and competitors, as well as privileges to access information about Amazon’s internal algorithms. They also bribed Amazon employees to obtain benefits that violate Amazon’s own rules, such as selling restricted products.
These individuals allegedly acted as consultants to third-party sellers who sold a range of goods, including household items, consumer electronics and dietary supplements. Some of them not only act as consultants, but also sell products on Amazon as third-party sellers.
The US Department of Justice stated that these individuals obtained unfair competitive benefits for third-party sellers, with a total value of more than $100 million.
Amazon’s huge market has millions of third-party sellers, accounting for about 60% of the company’s e-commerce sales. Although the market has brought record revenue to Amazon, it has also brought counterfeit, unsafe and even expired products. The company said it invests hundreds of millions of dollars each year to ensure product safety and compliance.
Amazon said in a statement to the media: “Amazon has no place for fraud.” The company added that it has a system to detect suspicious behavior of sellers or employees, and a team to investigate and stop prohibited activities.
It is not clear whether Amazon fired employees suspected of participating in bribery.
Amazon added: “We are particularly disappointed by the actions of these former employees and thank law enforcement for their cooperation and support to bring them and the criminals who were in conflict with them to justice.”
The six individuals were charged with using communication tools to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to protected computers, and conspiracy to commit telecom fraud.
The use of communication facilities for commercial bribery and access to protected computers can be punishable by up to five years in prison, while telecommunication fraud can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
Amazon has previously faced internal employee corruption. In 2018, foreign media reported that Amazon was investigating suspicious data breaches and bribery by Amazon employees, who provided internal data to third-party merchants to help them compete in the market.
If you think this post can be helpful to somebody else, please share it on Twitter, Facebook or Whatsapp it to friends. There are buttons below for this (easy to use too)! Join Over 5,000 + Readers. Get a free daily update via Email HERE