• Craig Gedey

Thompson and Holt welcomes Amazon conspiracy verdicts

Thompson and Holt has welcomed the news that two people have pleaded guilty for their role in a multimillion dollar conspiracy scheme to manipulate Amazon.

News broke earlier this week that New York pair Joseph Nilsen, 32, and Kristen Leccese, 33, have admitted they paid more than $100,000 in bribes from 2016 to 2020.

They are two of six people that have been charged over the conspiracy, which federal prosecutors say involved paying bribes to get Amazon employees and contractors to leak confidential data and to use that data to grant certain sellers a competitive advantage on Amazon Marketplace.

Another of those involved, Rohit Kadimisetty, was sentenced in February to 10 months in prison and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine.

Two other defendants - Ephraim Rosenberg, of New York, and Hadis Nuhanovic, of Acworth, Georgia - are set for trial in October. The sixth defendant, Nishad Kunju, of Hyderabad, India, has not been brought to the U.S. to face charges.

Nilsen and Leccese have admitted that they paid bribes to obtain confidential Amazon information, leading to reinstating of suspended third-party seller accounts and product listings. It also allowed them to avoid Amazon restrictions on certain products, and to manipulate customer reviews.

The pair are now scheduled for sentencing in U.S. District Court in Seattle on September 9. Nilsen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison; conspiracy to violate the Travel Act, which bars interstate or foreign travel in aid of racketeering and is punishable by up to five years; and tax charges that can bring up to three years.

Leccese pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Travel Act.

Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey said the news should be welcomed by all Amazon Sellers.

Gedey explained: “For years at Thompson and Holt we have suspected that these practises have been taking place, and have campaigned strongly for Amazon to investigate them throughout that time.

“We are really pleased to see that these investigations are now resulting in convictions to the people involved.

“We’re also highly delighted for all the innocent Amazon Sellers that throughout the last five years have been contacting us with suspicions that these practises were taking place. In many cases, it will have cost those businesses significant amounts of money.

“Hopefully these verdicts, and the punishments that have already been handed out with more to follow, will also act as strong deterrents to anybody else considering these black hat tactics on Amazon.

“It needs to be a completely fair and transparent marketplace, and this news is another step towards achieving that.”

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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