• Craig Gedey

Ex-Amazon employee imprisoned over bribery scheme

A former Amazon seller support employee has been sent to prison for his part in an international bribery scheme surrounding the site.

Rohit Kadimisetty, who worked out of Amazon's Hyderabad office in India until 2015, was ordered to spend 10 months in prison after he admitted he conspired to commit bribery across state and national borders. Kadimisetty was also ordered to pay a $50,000 fine and undertake three years of supervised release.

A report on CNB added: “Kadimisetty is one of six individuals who the U.S. Department of Justice charged with conspiracy for allegedly bribing Amazon employees to gain an ‘upper hand’ over other sellers on Amazon's online marketplace. In addition to Kadimisetty, the group of individuals included seller consultant Ed Rosenberg, Joseph Nilsen, Kristen Leccese, Hadis Nuhanovic and Nishad Kunju, who was employed by Amazon in India until 2018.

“Between late 2017 and 2020, these people allegedly bribed Amazon employees to leak information about the company's search and ranking algorithms, as well as share confidential data on third-party sellers they competed with on the marketplace. The scheme also involved bribing employees to reinstate suspended accounts and defacing competitors' product listings, the DOJ alleged in its indictment.”

The Department of Justice stated that the individuals spent around $100,000 in bribes that reaped more than $100 million in competitive benefits, illustrating the scale of the scheme.

Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey says the case shows that black hat tactics remain evident on Amazon. Gedey said: “Most Amazon Sellers will be aware of that already, but the sheer scale of this operation is eye-opening. If you were a competitor affected by the Sellers who benefited immensely from this scheme, your business would have been significantly hit.

“Amazon talks a lot publicly about its desire to stamp out these practises and this conviction is undoubtedly a victory in that sense. But it’s how many others continue to get away with it - and there will always be both Sellers and company employees looking for short cuts with the amounts of money involved. The judge involved in this most recently case compared the activities to ‘modern day organised crime’. Amazon has become such a lucrative platform that is attracts serious criminal activity.

“At Thompson and Holt we always advise our Sellers to avoid any kind of black hat tactics or approaches that violate Amazon’s terms and conditions, because they are clamping down on them more than ever before. There is still work for them to do - as this recent case illustrates - but it isn’t worth risking your selling status chasing short term gains.

“If you do find yourself excluded for stepping outside of Amazon’s guidelines then contact Thompson and Holt to get back selling as quickly as possible.”

An Amazon spokesperson said in a statement: “There is no place for fraud at Amazon. We work hard to create a trustworthy shopping experience by protecting customers, selling partners, and Amazon from fraud and abuse, and we have systems in place to detect suspicious behaviour.”

If you have found yourself suspended while selling on Amazon, contact Thompson and Holt for a free LiveChat to get your Seller business back online as quickly as possible.

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