The Indian employee charged was identified as Nishad Kunju, 31, of Hyderabad. Others indicted are Ephraim Rosenberg, 45, of Brooklyn, New York; Joseph Nilsen, 31, and Kristen Leccese, 32, of New York City; Hadis Nuhanovic, 30, of Acworth, Georgia; and Rohit Kadimisetty, 27, of Northridge, California.
They were charged with conspiracy to use a communication facility to commit commercial bribery, conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
“Realizing they could not compete on a level playing field, the subjects turned to bribery
and fraud in order to gain the upper hand,” said Raymond Duda, an FBI supervisor in Seattle. “What’s equally concerning, not only did they attempt to increase sales of their own products, but sought to damage and discredit their competitors.”
said it has systems in place to detect suspicious activity by employees and sellers and teams that investigate prohibited activity.
“Bad actors like those in this case detract from the flourishing community of honest entrepreneurs that make up the vast majority of our sellers,” the company said in a statement.
More than half the goods sold on Amazon’s website come from independent merchants who give Amazon a cut of each sale. Selling on Amazon is so competitive it has created a cottage industry of consultants who help merchants. Amazon’s introduction of paid advertising on the site, which allows merchants to pay for better visibility in search results, has increased the competitive pressure on sellers.
Amazon has struggled to tamp down various problems that run rampant on its site, like counterfeit products and fake customer reviews meant to deceive shoppers. Many of these schemes can be conducted in ways that elude detection by the company, such as finding online shoppers in Facebook groups and using PayPal to pay them to buy a product and leave a favorable review. The federal indictment highlights how the stakes are so high that Amazon’s employees and contractors can be enticed with bribes to manipulate a marketplace that is supposed to help shoppers find the best products at the best prices.
“This inside thing is bad and it’s growing,” said Boyce, who sold on Amazon for more than a decade before starting his consulting firm.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.