The United States is cracking down on a program designed to incent some third-party Amazon sellers to the detriment of others. A grand jury in Washington indicted six people (via The Verge) for allegedly bribing Amazon staff and contractors in order to gain an advantage in the internet giant’s market. For starters, the Six are said to have paid to get “exclusive perks” for their accounts, such as narrow category sales and internal competitive data.
On top of that, they reportedly asked Amazon workers to lift account bans and even help attacks on rivals. They used the algorithm information to spam the lists of challengers with false negative reviews, the Justice Department said, and obtained confidential performance data such as revenue, customers and ad campaigns. The six were said to have had a “competitive snapshot” of Amazon’s secret information, such as its search engine, application methods and reviews.
Among the accused are Rohit Kadmisetty, Nishad Kunju, Kristen Leccese, Joseph Nilsen, Hadis Nuhanovic and Ephraim Rosenberg. They all face charges of commercial bribery, accessing protected computers without authorization and electronic fraud.
The group will make their first appearance in a Seattle court on October 15.
The case is not particularly well chosen for Amazon. The company is no stranger to issues with dishonest third-party sellers and has been accused of using data from sellers to make competing products and gain an unfair advantage. While the two cases are unrelated, this latest bust does not help Amazon’s claims that it handles abuse from third-party sellers.