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Amazon Marketplace, 10 charged Over Dodgy Products & Bribery Scam

Several third-party sellers aiding in the sale of products on Amazon marketplace have been charged after allegedly trying to bribe Amazon employees to gain an advantage by continuing to sell goods deemed dangerous.

A US federal grand jury in the USA has indicted six people who provided consulting services to vendors on Amazon’s marketplace, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, and they collectively paid more than $100,000 in bribes to the e-commerce giant’s workers.

10 Amazon employees and contractors also accepted bribes prosecutors said.

The group of six are slated to appear in U.S. District Court in Seattle on Oct. 15, they include two former Amazon workers who prosecutors say bribed company employees to reinstate the sale of products deemed inferior or even dangerous.

Two of the defendants, Joseph Nilsen, 31, and Kristen Leccese, 32, provided consulting services through a company called Digital Checkmate which also offered services to Australian operating in Amazon’s marketplace.

Ephraim Rosenberg, 45, had spearheaded a similar effort called Amazon Sellers Group. Hadis Nuhanovic, 30, had provided fee-based consulting and led his own third-party seller accounts; and former Amazon employees Rohit Kadimisetty, 27, and Nishad Kunju, 31, also became consultants to third-party sellers.

The also attack their clients’ rivals and used inside access to suspend accounts and share proprietary details about Amazon’s algorithms for listings according to the Wall Street Journal.

In exchange for cash Amazon insiders provided the defendants with access to proprietary Amazon data and — in some cases — credentialed access to the company’s systems, prosecutors asserted.

In a statement, Amazon said that the company supported the investigation and had worked with federal agencies involved in the case.

“Bad actors like those in this case detract from the flourishing community of honest entrepreneurs that make up the vast majority of our sellers,” Amazon said.

The wire fraud and wire-fraud conspiracy charges against the group carry prison sentences of up to 20 years plus fines, the U.S. attorney’s office said on Saturday.

An additional charge of conspiracy to use a communication facility in furtherance of commercial bribery could carry up to five years in prison and fines.

“As the world moves increasingly to online commerce, we must ensure that the marketplace is not corrupted with unfair advantages obtained by bribes and kick‑backs,” U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said in a statement. “The ultimate victim from this criminal conduct is the buying public.”

Business practices on Amazon’s marketplace have come under increased regulatory scrutiny over the past year, and Amazon has struggled to block the sale of faulty products.

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