The U.S. Department of Justice has charged six people with bribing Amazon employees and contractors in an attempt to supply third-party sellers with unfair advantages on the company's marketplace. A grand jury indictment describes how Amazon employees allegedly accepted more than $100,000 in bribes and, in exchange, boosted the products of certain sellers and attacked their competitors.
- The six individuals, who worked as consultants for Amazon’s third-party sellers, allegedly paid at least 10 Amazon employees and contractors to leak internal intel, reinstate suspended sellers' accounts and products, and suspend the accounts of their competitors.
- The leaked intel allegedly included the algorithmic formula for Marketplace's search engine and inside competitive and performance data of other sellers, such as customers, revenues, and ad campaigns. The competitive benefits reportedly tallied in the tens of millions of dollars.
- Amazon hasn't said if it fired the employees allegedly linked to the scheme, which dates back to 2017.
- U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran says the "buying public" is the ultimate victim in the alleged scheme since many purchased "inferior or even dangerous goods" that shouldn't have been on Amazon's marketplace.
- The indicted individuals are Ephraim Rosenberg, 45, of Brooklyn; Joseph Nilsen, 31, and Kristen Leccese, 32, of Manhattan; Hadis Nuhanovic, 30, of Georgia; Rohit Kadimisetty, 27, of California; and Nishad Kunju, 31, of India.
- They face wire fraud charges, which carry a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and bribery-related and improper access charges, which carry up to five years in prison and another $250,000. The six will appear in a Seattle court next month.
- From Twitter: Amazon seller Molson Hart, CEO of toy company Viahart, claims that bribing Amazon employees has been "going on for years" and this is "only the tip of the iceberg."